In 1990, with just one year Rotary membership under my belt, I was approached by a fellow Rotarian Bob Benzie with a suggestion that I do something about getting an Interact Club under way at Pakuranga College. I had moved there from Edgewater College in 1987 and was still fairly much under pressure finding my way with new systems and relationships so wasn’t too chuffed about taking on new responsibilities.  But many of you will remember Bob – he was persistent if nothing else and finally wore me down. As a result, after clearing it with the principal Pamela Stone, our Paskuranga College Interact Club was assembled and chartered at a special evening on 14 March 1990 where Bruce Robinson (DG), Noel Holyoake, (past DG) and Dennis Waller (Pakuranga Rotary President), gave us the all go. 
A rostrum made by Stuart Thomson was donated and a President’s chain was provided by our Rotary Club.  We were the second club in Auckland, the only other one being at Pukekohe High School, supervised by Ross Pullman who lived and breathed Interact. 
Before too long other Auckland schools had joined in –Papatoetoe, Wesley, Mt. Roskill, Dilworth, Diocesan, Mangere,  De La Salle , Rosehill, Macleans, Edgewater, Elim, Ormiston, One Tree Hill, , and more recently  Glendowie, Auckland Grammar and Epsom Girls Grammar. Only the last nine of these are currently active.  In the Pacific Islands, part of District 9920, Fiji boasted about five active clubs with Jasper Williams High School being chartered at the same time as Pakuranga College. Recent changes in Health and Safety regulations however have created problems there for schools as outside supervision has been disallowed. Samoa has one club but the one in the Cook Islands hasn’t functioned in recent years.  Tahiti has yet to form a club.
So began my association with some of the most wonderful young people you could ever hope to meet. Many of the founding members and those who followed in their footsteps have made names for themselves in business and the professions – one is a Queen’s Counsel! We certainly had Serious Fun (Inertact’s motto) and within a year had raised enough funds to buy one of Peter Drysdale’s Rotahomes for a Fiji family near Lautoka - $1800! That easily fulfilled the obligation to have a project with an international theme but it was the fundraising activities that provided us with most pleasure.
 One project involved a weekly collection (in my car, sometimes with a trailer) of used plastic milk bottles provided by a number of locals on the roadside every Friday – wet or fine.  Two Interactors joined me each week and quite a lot of money was raised.  We had teams doing odd jobs for Rotarians, selling chocolate and other sweets (non PC these days), selling jewellery, having food stalls and sausage sizzles, garage sales, book fair, car washes, organising and selling umbrellas with the Pakuranga College logo and, most profitable, selling flowers for Valentines Day with messages written by students attached. When flowers became too expensive we switched to heart shaped balloons – still being sold each year.  When we got to 500 sales we thought we were doing well.  This year it was 1100! Such a great way to get new members involved at the start of the year.
So many charities have benefitted for the club’s efforts and for about 20 years now, two children have been sponsored through World Vision.  In recent years the club has also organised the 40 Hour Famine with between $4000 and $6000 being raised each year. Other beneficiaries have been Canteen, Guide Dogs, Heart Foundation, Asthma Foundation, Youthline, Heart Institute, Kidz Foundation, Starship Hospital, Kidney Kids etc. etc. Rotary projects have been supported as well – Dengue Fever, Ba Village, Trees for Survival, ERKs. Rotakitchens (Fiji)  etc.  Pakuranga College gained computers, a plant growing unit and national flags with Interact help in the mid 90s.
Starting with just 20 members, the club grew rapidly and with the influx of Asian students in the late  1990s numbers reached up to 120 – all in the senior levels of the school.  Recently numbers have settled to between 60 and 80.  Students love to get involved, come up with great ideas and have been a mainstay of support for Top Schools, Carnival Day and some Auxilliary Club projects. The ethnic composition of the club reflects the diversity of the school – a mini United Nations really.
Strength of leadership has been outstanding – it has been great to see new leaders grow into their roles and develop amazing skills of organisation, group management and verbal communication.
My involvement with Interact has gone well beyond the Pakuranga Club as I was roped into a District Interact Committee within a year. Its members were geographically dispersed with two from the Drury Club, one from Mangere and Ross Pullman based in Pukekohe but we met fairly regularly for several years before the travel became too demanding and email communication became the norm. I promoted Interact at some District Conferences, sometimes with student assistance which always went down well.
As District Chairman for many years, Ross organised inter-club events with trips to the Gannet Colony at Muriwai, the Parakai Hot Pools and Seminars or dinners where guest speakers such as Possum Bourne and Martin Crowe were an attraction, giving motivational talks to admiring young people. I organised a trip to Waiheke for the Pakuranga Club one year and, had it not been for one boy getting horribly drunk, it went quite well!
 About 15 years ago I bought a trophy and set up annual Trivia Night competitions between clubs, vying for the Serious Fun Cup. The hosting of these was shared among the participating clubs and we got as many as 110 students involved each year – lots of friendly competition and a chance for Interactors to meet others and share ideas on fund-raising, community involvement etc. Making up the sets of questions geared to secondary age students was a challenge but one I enjoyed.  New Zealand History was always there (showing my bias) as was a double round based on the current events of the month leading up to the competition – education by stealth! In the last few years, Auckland Grammar has held this trophy but I think the event has run its course as getting enough schools to commit has become more difficult in the last two years.
When Ross resigned as Chairman I took over – about 15 years ago and did much to promote the formation of new clubs. Earlier this year I relinquished the District Chairman’s position but intend to continue my involvement with the college club.
The thirty years have brought great rewards – quite apart from 3 PHFs given by District Governors at various times and the one presented by my own club. Foremost has been the satisfaction of seeing young people develop as leaders in their ‘Executive’ roles in the club.  Their enthusiasm, sense of achievement, entrepreneurial flair, collegial spirit and serving natures plus a huge love for their community have been an inspiration. It was never a surprise to me to note that so many of the end-of-year prize winners crossing the stage included ‘Interact Club member’ as part of their CV. Giving young people the opportunity to contribute to their communities in very tangible ways has given me much pleasure.  I am sure their lives have been greatly enriched by their Interact experiences – as has mine.