"Guruve" was the first major international project of St Johns Rotary and the first time the club applied for a Rotary Foundation Grant to expand the capacity of a project.
St Johns Rotary member Mike Henry (born in South Africa) had previously visited the Guruve area to purchase pieces of art for a gallery his daughter was opening in Newmarket, Auckland, and had been conscious of the poverty of the villages despite the quality of the artwork produced and sold.
The villages of the Guruve area were exceedingly poor and severely lacking in many of the essentials needed even for a basic quality of life.  These included:
  • A lack of reliable drinkable water as it did not rain for 10 months of the and what water was available tended to be brackish,
  • access to education or health facilities, and
  • even access to adequate food supplies.  The only crop that could be grown was a corn/maize that was stunted and low producing.  The remoteness of the location and the lack of income made access to additional supplies difficult.
  • Mike Henry and fellow St Johns Rotary member Gary Key travelled to Guruve for the opening of the school by the Deputy minister of Education who helicoptered in for the opening of the new school.
The project was quite an achievement given the vast distance and remoteness of the location. It was also the first matched grant project by St Johns Rotary ( they were rare in those days).
Guruve: Aotea Centre, 26 May 1995
“How could a man walking through the mountains of the Great Dyke, drawn by the sound of hammers on stone, know that years later he would be listed among the top ten sculptors in the world by Michael Shepherd of the Daily Telegraph, and that his work would be exhibited in museums and great art collections worldwide. This man is Henry Munyaredzi who was born in the remote Guruve area in Northern Zimbabwe, the place that this project is to support.”
While the village had about 60 artists, they were largely unknown outside of their immediate location.  With the help of a Zimbabwe expert and the Rotary club of Bindura the best 135 stone sculptures were selected and shipped to Auckland for this auction.  It was a tribute to these artists that their works were created for the benefit of their community as a whole rather than just for themselves.
The $50,000 was raised was enough to assist two neighbouring villages of Chitaunhike and Mukombachoto 14,000 kms from Auckland.  With the support of the Rotary club of Bindura, a three-classroom school and two desperately needed clean-water boreholes were installed
Guruve 2:  Aotea Centre, 15 May 1997
The benefits to the two villages supported went a long way to providing essentials but there were still deficiencies affecting even a basic standard of living that St Johns Rotary and Rotary club of Bindura wished to provide to complete the original project plan.
The village artists again provided 100 stone sculptures and thanks to the success of the first Guruve auction, this selection of auction items was added to by 30 sculptures from some of Zimbabwe’s recognised artists plus four magnificent paintings of African wildlife by NZ artist Liz Philips.
Over 450 guests attended the auction and $53,000 was raised.  These funds helped to raise the wall of the dam to provide additional storage to see then through the dry season and provide irrigation to crop fields, raising their yields.  Also, the school equipped and support for teachers’ salaries provided, and some other essentials for the villages provided with all planned work completed by 2000.
Guruve 3: Ellerslie Function Centre, 26 September 2002
This fundraiser was to support the Zimbabwe Charitable Trust based in Auckland.  The Trust provided counselling, food and clothing and other essential needs to Zimbabwe immigrants and refugees to help them re-adjust to their new lives in New Zealand and to become productive New Zealanders.

This page highlights but one significant project of the club over the years - there are of course many projects both large and small that make real and meaningful impacts on the lives of those needing a helping and or a hand up.  It is not possible to mention all who contributed as there are so many but special thanks goes to Mike Henry, Gary Key, Neil Dewar and Aubrey Richardson-Jones.
This project has been submitted as a contribution to the Mana Tangata History Project - celebrating 100 years of Rotary in New Zealand and the Pacific in 2021

Improvements to the content of this page are welcomed (information and pictures) - send to cs.bg.robinson@xtra.co.nz