Proceeds from the contest will support the busy Westpac Helicopter Rescue Service.
Behind the fun at the annual Leigh Fishing Contest on March 25 are some sobering facts and figures.
The annual event attracts more than 500 people, with $70,000 of prizes up for grabs including a Surtees 475 Workmate boat and 60hp engine.
It is the biggest fundraiser for Auckland Westpac Rescue Helicopter, raising $40,000 last year.
The prizegiving and entertainment is held on the Leigh Primary School field including children’s rides, a fish auction, refreshments and live bands.
The field is also where the helicopter lands during the year for callouts. There were six in Leigh last year – two critical, three serious and one moderate. The callouts were for strokes, chest pain and an unwell baby. At Matheson Bay there was a diving accident and in Pakiri there was a near-drowning and a child injured from a fall.
Auckland’s Westpac Rescue Helicopter services the largest catchment area in New Zealand and had 1111 missions last year. Rodney had 145 callouts and was the third most visited region, after Thames Coromandel and Waiheke.
The service is not centrally funded so relies on donations and events to keep flying. For many remote communities it is the main access to care in a medical emergency.
Event manager Nathan Turley says the Leigh Fishing Contest fundraiser also helps them give the communities an experience in return for their support.
“An event like Leigh is a good example of where the community can come together and help us pay for missions that take place in their area,” Nathan says.
The competition attracts entrants from throughout the country. The boat and outboard package is for the average weight snapper, giving everyone a good chance, with a 1.12 kg snapper winning last year.
This year they have increased the number of junior tickets to keep the family atmosphere. All junior anglers receive a welcome pack of local goodies to help with their day fishing and have the chance to win prizes.
Family entertainment afterwards includes a bouncy castle, water zorb and other fairground rides, as well as bands White Chapel Jak and The Usual Suspects.
The contest has raised more than $230,000 in the past 14 years for the rescue helicopter and other local emergency services, schools and causes.
Tickets cost $50 for adults and $5 for children, and are available at Hirepool and Top Catch stores, or online at iTICKET.