Kaikōura youth fishing club reels in $3,620 grant from Foodstuffs South Island Community Trust

17 April 2024


Keepa Timms, Club President of The Rod Benders


A local fishing club set up and run by Kaikōura rangatahi is helping young people learn, connect and get ahead, thanks to funding from the Foodstuffs South Island Community Trust and New World Kaikōura

The Rod Benders fishing club was established earlier this year with the help of the Foodstuffs South Island Community Trust, New World Kaikōura owner operators James and Kym Bishop, and Mark Paterson, facilitator at Te o Mātauranga – Learning in Kaikōura, which creates, promotes and encourages learning opportunities in the town. 

Foodstuffs South Island is a 100% New Zealand owned co-operative, with over 200 stores in communities across Te Waipounamu operating under the Four Square, New World, On the Spot, PAK’nSAVE, Raeward Fresh and Trents brands. Our purpose is to feed the South Island and create successful communities, and the Foodstuffs South Island Community Trust has been set up to support people and projects that provide a meaningful community benefit.  

At the end of last year, James endorsed a grant application from Te o Mātauranga to the Foodstuffs South Island Community Trust. The application secured $3,620 of funding for the club to purchase equipment to help improve the health and wellbeing of local rangatahi and build connection and self confidence among club members. 

James Bishop, owner operator of New World Kaikōura says: “We want to give back to the community in a meaningful way, so supporting the club to get up and running was a no-brainer and a good opportunity to give back and create a positive impact for young people in town.



New World Kaikōura owner operators James and Kym Bishop


Led by Club President Keepa Timms, Rod Benders was formed just a few months ago and is already proving a popular pastime for its 21 members, all aged between 11 and 18

Keepa, a grocery assistant at New World Kaikōura, says aside from learning how to fish, the club has helped many local rangatahi gain life-long skills, and become kaitiaki of their environment

Before becoming the club’s president, Keepa was enrolled at Te Hā o Mātauranga as an alternative education student. Under the tutelage of course facilitator Mark, Keepa and his classmates were taught the skills they would need to find employment and connected to the outdoor extra-curricular activities that resonated with them most. For Keepa, this was fishing


Kaikōura youth fishing club

Rod Benders fishing club learn a few techniques on one of their first outings together


Mark had taken Keepa fishing a few months before the club began and taught him how to fish. Keepa hooked his first ever catch at a beach near his work, a rig that was big enough to feed his whole whānau

“It was an awesome feeling, being able to use a new skill and also provide a few meals for my whānau,” Keepa says. 

After talking it through with Mark, Keepa was inspired to start a fishing club for local rangatahi, which Mark and then James supported via the Foodstuffs South Island Community Trust.

“We’re really stoked to have the opportunity,” Keepa says.

I’ve also learned a whole bunch of other things I never would’ve expected to, like all the different ways we can look after our marine environment, so we leave it in a better place.”

The club meet every fortnight at the local community hall, where members are empowered to learn about the activities involved in running a club, as well as fishing techniques, how to run a meeting, fundraising, and they agree on the fishing spots they will visit next. Te Ao Māori, the idea that everything is connected in some way, such as people and the environment, forms a big part of the way the club operates

“Our ethos as adults is to lead from behind,” says Mark Paterson, of Te o Mātauranga.

“We want to teach our rangatahi how to connect and care for the whenua as well as create and maintain good relationships.

“So, if they’re fishing at the beach or river, they don’t just pick up their own rubbish, they also pick up the other rubbish that might have been left there by others, and if someone’s taken the time to teach them something about fishing, they’ll provide a koha for their time.”


Mark Paterson - Rod Benders fishing club

Mark Paterson, course facilitator at of Te Hā o Mātauranga, with members of the Rod Benders fishing club


The positive impact of the support from Foodstuffs South Island Community Trust, New World Kaikōura, and the wider community, is already being felt

“The support we’ve received from the community to engage our rangatahi in this way has made a big impact on these amazing young people and had an incredible benefit to their wellbeing,” Mark says. 

Any whakama (shame or embarrassment) among members about not having a fishing rod, bait, or fishing gear in general has been replaced with enthusiasm and a curiosity to learn.  

The club has also received support with gear from a range of local businesses and providers in the community, including Te o Mātauranga, ITM, and Okuma Fishing. 

Marks says: “Kids from all walks of life are connecting and helping and supporting each other, and it’s having a big flow on effect on them, boosting their confidence and wellbeing. These kids are blown away that people are seeing them and are interested in them.”

As a small town heavily reliant on tourism, particularly over the busy summer period, young people often see Kaikōura as a place where there isn’t a lot to do. 

“Thanks to the local community, our rangatahi are being given the knowledge, techniques and resources to really experience the region, the great outdoors and the kaimoana (seafood) that’s put Kaikōura on the map, Mark says. 

Rod Benders fishing club is at full capacity and has become so popular that even others in the community, including adults, are asking to join and learn from current members.

James is pleased to see the club already having such a positive impact on the community and is keen to help encourage more initiatives that empower local rangatahi to reach their full potential

Having a sense of community and feeling engaged and connected is really important for our rangatahi, and we’re really pleased to have been involved in helping bring this about,” James says.

“All the work that’s gone into setting up the club has been done by the community for the community, and we’re hoping to support more initiatives like this here in future.

For more information about the Foodstuffs South Island Community Trust, visit https://www.foodstuffs-si.co.nz/foodstuffs-community-trust.