The Sky Tower in Auckland, New Zealand is 328 metres tall. Tourists take the lift to the observation deck or the revolving restaurant for uninterrupted views of the city and the Hauraki Gulf.
Or, you could climb the 1,103 steps and 51 flights of stairs to the top of the tower with 25 kilogrammes of kit on your back and breathing recycled air through a BG4 closed-circuit breathing set with a mask covering your face.
That is just what members of Waihi Operation’s Mines Rescue Team and the Macraes Emergency Response Team did in August, joining more than 900 firefighters from around the country to raise over NZ$1.3 million for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.
The event is held each year, with team members raising money from sponsors and fundraising activities before the event.
This year the Mines Rescue Team from Waihi took first place for teams of six to nine firefighters, raising just over NZ$35,000 in sponsorship. The team from Macraes gained second place in the 10-plus team members category, having raised NZ$30,001 making OceanaGold employees one of the biggest contributors to the event. This result is reflection of the huge amount of their time over the past months to raise money and train for the event on top of their own jobs, lives and other volunteering commitments.
The fastest climbers can complete the event in around ten minutes. Shay Perkinson from the Waihi team says it’s not about the time.
“To be in Mines Rescue you have to be fit, and while we will always challenge each other to do our best, for us it’s not about being fastest, it’s about getting the team to the top, and raising money for a really worthwhile cause,” Shay said.
“Everybody knows somebody, or knows somebody who knows somebody, who has cancer. This is our chance to give back.”
Jed Moriarty, one of the fastest climbers, agrees. He says the team is “standing on the shoulders of the community”.
“We can train and do the climb on the day, but we succeed because the community gets behind us,” Jed said.
“We have a small group of major sponsors who are always incredibly generous, but a lot of the funds raised come in small amounts from our communities in Waihi and at Macraes. We really couldn’t do this without them behind us.”
OceanaGold’s Waihi Operation Acting General Manager Justin Johns attended his first Sky Tower Challenge this year.
“I’m impressed by the teamwork and commitment for the cause; it’s an amazing fundraising event helping others. We should all be very proud of what the Waihi team and our teammates from the South Island have achieved,” Justin said.
General Manager at the Macraes Operation, Mike Fischer says the event is very physically demanding.
“These results showcase to all of us the strength and resilience our rescue teams require to respond to emergencies both on site and in the wider community,” Mike said.
Both managers praised the commitment and generosity of sponsors and supporters.