The 2022 World Skate Oceania Artistic Championships were held in September in Whanganui, bringing together over 100 competitors. Ella Birkett from Taranaki was one of the young people representing New Zealand in roller skating.
“This was Ella’s first international competition and it has taken her seven years to get here. She trains five days a week. Skating doesn't have much of a high profile here and very little funding comes into the sport,” said Tanya Birkett, Ella’s mother.
“Our biggest challenge has been getting money together for her to be able to compete in the Oceania Championships. It cost us $500 to get the New Zealand uniform and $1500 for the entry fee and accommodation at the camp.”
An individual grant of $750 from Toi Foundation assisted with the costs of competing in the championships.
“The grant has enabled us to breathe a little easier. We have done other fundraising, like a disco night and a bingo night. Any fundraising takes a lot of time and Ella has to participate in raising that money. So the Toi Foundation grant meant she could focus on her skating.”
“You can’t represent New Zealand until you’re a cadet skater or in a quartet. You have to have done five medals in the grading system before you’re even considered. The top skaters can represent New Zealand at the Oceania Championships."
"Ella came fourth in her event and was the highest ranked New Zealand cadet-grade skater," Tanya said.
“Getting something so significant from Toi Foundation was huge for us. I think it gives us a real sense of being supported by the community. It also means that the younger kids in the club can look up to the skaters who are skating at an international level.”