Taupō fundraising project saves kuia from burning house

By Bronson Perich
Taupō golfer Wilson Simmonds masked up to practice - Photo / File

Wilson Simmonds started playing golf five years ago. He’s gone from strength to strength, and is preparing for a golf tournament in December. His kuia, Sarah Rahera Simmonds, has been playing for 40 years. She taught her children to play, and her grandson is her latest understudy.

"He's amazing, and I'm not saying that because he's my moko," kuia Sarah Rahere Simmonds says.

“He’s so good, because I was his first coach!”

To meet the costs needed to play golf, Wilson and his whānau are making and selling face masks.

“My mum’s a fashion tech teacher at Taupōnuiatia College in Taupo,” Wilson Simmonds says.

Mā whero, mā pango ka oti ai te mahi

Sarah Rahera Simmonds (left) and Wilson Simmonds (right) show some of the masks they make for sale - Photo / File

After teaching her students to make their own masks, the whānau decided to make more masks and sell them.

The orders are rolling in, and they’ve had to rally whānau to help them meet the demand.

“We had a big order of 150 masks from Te Aroha College/Kura,” Wilson Simmonds says.

“We had to get these done by the Monday, and we started making them on the (previous) Thursday.”

While everyone was gathered at Wilson’s home, kuia Simmonds' home was on fire.

Ka mate kainga tahi, ka ora kainga rua

Wilson Simmonds models another one of his masks - Photo / File

“Making these masks is what saved because normally I would be in bed,” kuia Simmonds says.

Kuia Simmonds' eldest son, Wilson’s uncle was in the house and she is grateful her tama made it out of the burning house.

“I’d never have been able to get out, my oldest son was lucky,” she says.

“Where I sleep is gone, there’s nothing (left) apparently.”

Wilson Simmonds is hoping to get a scholarship to study in the USA once high school is completed. His eventual goal is to become a pro golfer with his own business.