Last week Mayor Peter Petty and tourism marketing manager Caitlin Reid visited the Vodafone Warriors at their home ground, Mount Smart Stadium in Auckland. The New Zealand national rugby league team "adopted" Tenterfield for the 2020 season at the end of last year.
The council representatives met the NRL squad, watched the team train, and made a presentation about the community's dire predicament to the club's players and staff.
"This connection with the Warriors has lifted the spirits of our community," Cr Petty said. "We're looking forward to our association over the next 12 months, and the friendships that we'll make with the Warriors."
Cr Petty and Ms Reid were invited by Warriors CEO Cameron George. "To make a difference in Australia, which has really been devastated by natural disasters, is a big thing for our club and me, being an Australian as well. Our Kiwi boys within the club really appreciate what we're doing, and understand the significant challenges."
The Warriors' Club will fund infrastructure to water the Tenterfield Tigers' sports ground. "This will prove of great benefit for our local rugby clubs, and improve the visual aspect for travellers heading into town from the south," Cr Petty said.
The playing field was unable to be watered last year. The NZ sports club will provide a 150,000 litre tank to contain water, and pumping facilities to regularly irrigate the field. "Otherwise the locals would have had to travel hours to play sport, which is not what we want in the community we're trying to help," Mr George said.
Council needed to do more in the early part of this year to reseed and water the field, Cr Petty said. Council owns the fields, but the sporting clubs, to their credit, had taken over the management of the fields.
Council and the Warriors are planning exciting activities and joint initiatives for the year, Cr Petty said. These include an Ambassador program, a skill exchange between Warriors club employees and Tenterfield community members; and a fundraising dinner in Tenterfield, where a Warriors motivational speaker will establish a youth skills development fund. The Warriors will also bring their community team to Tenterfield Shire for school visits and training days, including to outlying schools.
The mayor thanked Warriors' players and staff for their enormous gift of support to Tenterfield. He said the Tenterfield Shire Council and the community at large were overwhelmed by the Vodafone Warriors reaching out to help.
"The whole area has been in an ongoing drought for the last two to three years now, but it has really bit hard in the past 12 months - and then we've had 12 months of bushfires as well," Cr Petty said.
"It's been really tough. The community's very strong and resilient, and we've worked our way through that. We've had four major fires in the year very close to our township, [and] it's affected our water quality.
"This newly established partnership will have a significant impact for the sports groups in our community."