by Jeff Dillon

They may not have quite the same national acknowledgement as southern Bluff oysters but another southern delight certainly gets toasted regularly down in the lower provinces of the South Island. In this case, it is cheese rolls by the dozen. Cheese rolls as a fund-raiser is one of the ways that the Nano Nagle Charitable Trust raises money to provide a service to those in need. Recently, on the last Saturday in May, some 30 volunteers turned up at the Kavanagh College Home Economics kitchen at 9am to begin the transformation of around 600 loaves of bread and about 200kg of cheese into some 1200 dozen cheese rolls. That is about 14,400 individual rolls. Others arrived at 1pm to complete the operation.

The trust (NNCT) was formed in 2009 by the Presentation Sisters and Associates to mark the 225th anniversary of Nano Nagle’s death. The Presentation Sisters were founded in Ireland by Nano Nagle during tough English penal laws when promoting Catholic education was illegal.

It was in the 1950’s that the Presentation Sisters were asked to come to New Zealand to staff schools in the Wellington area and at St Peter Chanel, Green Island, Dunedin. The links to those areas continue despite relinquishing their teaching presence.

The NNCT is a registered charity which has a simple target to support children who are unable to attend Catholic schools because of financial hardship.

The Trust relies heavily on donations to be able to achieve its aim. However, in 2016 it ventured into cheese roll making as another way of finding funds. In that year 1000 dozen cheese rolls were made to meet orders from parishioners throughout Dunedin. This year orders totalled about 1200 dozen.

Trustee Shona Brown from Mosgiel co-ordinates an enthusiastic fund-raising committee. The cheese roll making fundraiser requires a lot of careful planning and focus on the logistics of the operation.

There is a wider group of supporters known as “Friends of the NNCT” who are scattered all over Dunedin and who help advertise and gather orders within their respective parishes.

For the volunteers involved on the roll making day, it is a busy few hours but enjoyable for the teamwork involved and the knowledge that their effort is helping the NNCT provide support to some pupils to attend a Catholic school. In the afternoon the orders are all packaged, sorted and picked up to be available at Vigil Masses that evening or for picking
up at the Sunday Masses next day.

Funds raised by way of this activity and also, perhaps more significantly, by donations are used by the trust to support children across the country. Applications are received through a third party such as a parish priest, school principal, etc. for the NNCT Board to consider. Mike Bunt, a trustee member, indicated that so far every child who qualified under the trust’s deed had received assistance.

The support has steadily grown over the last four years. In 2014 an amount of $2282 was distributed. That swelled in 2015 to $18,807 and was fractionally down in 2016 at $18,026. In 2017, the total support jumped to $28,352 when 97 students were assisted. Most of the assistance has been for paying attendance dues.

While most of the grants in those years have been in the Otago /Southland area and also the Wellington/ Palmerston North area, the NNCT’s ambition is to become a recognised national trust helping qualifying pupils that meet the criteria throughout New Zealand.

In order to do that the trust hopes to gain more donations from people throughout the country as it already experiences the benefits from some generous donors every year.

Donations can be posted to Nano Nagle Charitable Trust, 86 Church Street, Mosgiel 9024 or deposited into Westpac Bank 03-1736-0513225-00. Donations are tax deductible.