Tauranga Accountant Peter Wood has retired from his role on the Bay of Plenty Education Trust after more than 30 years of service and was awarded the honour of Emeritus Trustee.

Mr Wood joined the trust in 1986, when it was in its infancy. Today the trust is known for its annually-awarded academic scholarships and its Future Leaders' Programme, both of which benefit students in the Western and Eastern Bay of Plenty.

Mr Wood said it had been enjoyable being involved in an "active" trust achieving great things.

He remembered how the trust started with a settlement of $10 and a focus on building a level of capital to sustain on-going educational support to its beneficiaries. A target of $5 million was set and achieved in 2014.

During the initial years the trust supported the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic by buying and leasing campus facilities to them - initially in Whitianga and then an operating dairy farm at Papamoa. It also supported polytechnic tutors' training abroad.

In 2000, annual income had reached the point whereby the Bay of Plenty Education scholarships could be established. Scholarship recipients now receive $5750 over the course of four years of tertiary study.

Then, in 2007, the Future Leadership Programme was introduced - running over an 18-month period to ensure the retention and utilisation of lessons learnt.

Mr Wood said highlights over the years included feedback at the scholarship functions and at the end of the Future Leaders' Programmes.

"The scholars have been able to achieve their dreams and it has been a favourite thing for me to hear them speak, at the end of their scholarship terms, about what they have actually accomplished.

"And we have amazing young people talking about the difference attending the Future Leaders' Programme has made to them."

In his farewell speech, Mr Wood acknowledged the efforts made by various trustees over the years who have all contributed to achieving the trust's goals.

Bay of Plenty Education Trust chairman Roger Loveridge said Mr Wood had made a significant contribution over the years, in various ways - his accounting knowledge, wordsmith capabilities, organisational skills and his general philanthropy.

Mr Wood is the second person to be awarded Bay of Plenty Education Trust Emeritus Trustee status, the first being former Tauranga lawyer Michael Batchelor.

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