Our Downtown club members are as Paul Harris envisaged. We are also strong believers in developing close, co-operative partnerships with like-minded individuals and organisations so that we can scale up and achieve more. This means larger community impact through working together resulting in a 3-way win, for Downtown, for our like-minded partners and for our beneficiaries.
Downtown Rotary started life in 1984. We are about 60 in number with 30+% female and a broad range of ages. Our 'base' is Auckland's Northern Club where, over breakfast on Tuesday mornings a guest speaker provides new perspectives and laughter prevails.
Our flagship project in 1991/1992 raised over $1.2 million in seed funding for Ronald McDonald House. This achievement set a precedent for our capability, and we have continued to aim high. In 2009, Downtown donated $140,000 to the University of Auckland's Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences, which led to the establishment of a Child and Adolescent Mental Health Research Fund. Routinely, our club supports Auckland City Mission, KiwiHarvest, Auckland Girls Grammar School, Trees for Survival, Gardens in Schools and various Rotary Youth Programmes.
We continue to actively acknowledge and support Mental Health as a social issue.
BATTLE OF THE SUITS TO DATE
The idea for 'Battle of the Suits' came from the famous Oxford debates in the UK, one of which our own David Lange rendered especially famous in 1985. Downtown members’ action rather than talk finally resulted in our first debate in August 2019. Beginning in the very gracious anteroom of the Cordis Hotel ballroom, all guests assemble in their finery for champagne and chit-chat. A 3-course dinner with NZ wines served at tables for 10 is the setting for a two-team Oxford-style debate supported by an MC, two no-nonsense adjudicators and a time-keeper.
One team of high public profile personalities; one team of high public profile lawyers; each argue a moot designed to stir the emotions of both debaters and guests. The first debate in 2019 (with team one lead Sir John Key and team two lead Michael Timmins, Dir. of Human Rights Proceedings – Aotearoa NZ), involved much hilarity and was a resounding success. With the support of our 350 guests, more than $60,000 was raised for the Auckland City Mission HomeGround project, finally commissioned in Q1/2022.
During the course of continual merriment, online and live auctions offer a wide variety of experiences and items available to our guests to buy, supporting our chosen charity in doing so and contributing to a lasting memory of an excellent evening out with an even better outcome on the horizon for those who will ultimately benefit.
Downtown’s Battle of the Suits was never intended to be a one-off; instead we aim to host it biennially building Battle of the Suits to become a ‘must’ on the Auckland event calendar and an opportunity by way of entertainment to ‘give back’ to its philanthropic supporters.
Our second debate in May 2021 hosted 450 guests and raised $100,000 – despite the upheaval of a pandemic. On this occasion, the (previously) Right Hon. Steven Joyce excelled leading team one and the inimitable Julian Miles QC presided leading team two. 2021 proved timely for our food rescue and re-distribution beneficiary KiwiHarvest who by mid-2021 were servicing a client base that had increased three-fold during the past 12 months.