Great Article about Te Ranga in the Herald.


Thanks Will… a great article. Will Johnston is such a staunch advocate for Te Ranga School. A great guy who promotes the pig and possum hunt on the radio and squeezes every last cent out of the punters as an auctioneer. He really goes above and beyond. 👍


How did you spend your Sunday last week?

Chilling? Family time? Housework? Recovering from that ‘one more, I’ll be fine tomorrow’?
Well last week was rounded off in the best, most beautifully random and rural way for me.

It was a good week in my life.

Definitely one of those weeks I’ll look back on in years to come.

I won a radio award (well, WE won a radio award, my show is pretty much just a guy in a padded room talking to himself if no one participates with it)! I MC’d TEDx Tauranga and connected with the coolest crowd of people as they were blown away by the 6000-plus volunteer hours the organisers and 11 speakers put in.

But last Sunday I returned, after a couple of years, to MC/auction at the Te Ranga School Possum & Pig Hunt Gala Day.

Racing at the Te Ranga gala day
Racing at the Te Ranga gala day

Te Ranga School is about 20 minutes’ drive past Te Puke up into the hills. It’s a small rural school and, in my opinion, one of the best schools in the country.
It rained for the whole thing. And it was awesome!

If people from under 5 years old up to 55 years old Tossing the Poss — throwing a toy possum like a discus — isn’t enough (we don’t use a real one), then what about the most epic waterslide made with excavators and polythene wrapping you’ve ever seen?

I’m not talking about your average backyard water slide. I’m talking about a theme-park kind of slide!

And if you’re not convinced that this is a memorable day, then how about the Killer Hill Pig Run?

Before I explain that, at this stage I should explain how the money is made. This year there were almost 700 pesty possums brought in by friends and family of the school — the school sells the fur, etc, and makes a bucket of money, along with an auction in the school hall, gala games, food sales and a bunch of sponsorship, and we are up around $20k, fingers crossed!

There’s also a pig hunting section. Then, rain or shine, anyone who wants to can whack a soul-departed piggy on their back and run the timed course down a steep short hill, along a little, and back up the hill!

This year, the lightest pre-bacon-oinker was about 50kg. So, yeah, that’s not gonna happen. So the kids (even the 5-year-olds) did their race all carrying a dad possum each.

Which, even as an increasingly lessening townie, is an eye-opener. But they love it!

Then the adults turn. Again, piggy too heavy … But you know what wasn’t too heavy? A ginormous turkey someone had shot while out hunting! So the turkey got the honour of being carted up and down the hill.

I honestly think my stomach still hurts from the laughing.

Aptly, the principal regained the title I heard he’s been trying to hide that he was missing for the last year.

The point of all school galas in the end is what does the money do to? Well, amongst a couple of upgrades round the school, the next door farm is donating a bit of their native bush land to the school and they are going to make an outdoor ‘bush classroom’ with the leftover money!

Think of the things they’ll learn and the lack of Wi-Fi so they have to concentrate ‘old school’ style.

Come to the Te Ranga School Possum & Pig Hunt Gala next year. If you don’t, you’re missing out … ya big turkey!

— Will Johnston is the local 9am-3pm host for The Hits Bay of Plenty 95FM. He’s also a celebrant and MC. Follow Will on Instagram on @radiowill.

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