Adrienne Tatham has been involved with Friends of Pukekura Park—often described as the jewel in New Plymouth's crown—since 2002, serving several of those years as President. As a non-profit organization, Friends of Pukekura Park volunteers engage in hands-on work, fundraising, guided tours, and the general safeguarding of the Park's special nature. Adrienne joined the volunteers of the Park, who evolved into the Gables Gardening Group, meeting weekly to ensure the Gables gardens continue to flourish. Her organizational skills, affinity for nature, and deep historical knowledge make her an invaluable leader. Rain or shine, Adrienne's level of commitment to this treasured space is unparalleled and is just one example of her dedication and service to the New Plymouth community.
Alastair Needes – affectionately known to many as The Dogman for his unique skill in training, rescuing, and rehoming dogs – is a well known face around the Te Matau-a-Māui Hawke's Bay region and beyond. After dedicating his career to caring for dogs and their owners, Alastair’s life took an unexpected turn when Cyclone Gabrielle devastated his home in Pakowhai. He lost his home, possessions, and three beloved dogs. Alastair used his platform to share his mental health journey, courageously demonstrating deep vulnerability in the hope that his story might help others in the same position. Alastair’s impact has been felt across the community as an example of what positive change can come from trauma
Recognised for her dedicated voluntary service to the Central Hawke’s Bay community, Amanda Withers has volunteered countless hours to help build a stronger, more resilient rural community through education, health, sport and the environment. Recognised for her dedicated voluntary service to the Central Hawke’s Bay community, Amanda Withers is well-known for her passion and commitment to the place she grew up. Her service is far-reaching – including being an instrumental organiser and fundraiser for Flemington Playgroup, Flemington Hall Committee, Waipukurau Tennis/Squash Club and Pōrangahau Rugby Club Junior Rugby Prize Giving. In recent years she has also acted as vice-chairwoman of Pōrangahau Catchment Group. Demonstrating great leadership, communication and organisation skills, Amanda is committed to getting results. Her mahi is appreciated by many, and continues to drive the region toward more positive outcomes.
Amelia Kaui is the Hostel Manager of Hukarere Girls College, which was devastated during Cyclone Gabrielle. Vigilant in keeping her students safe, Amelia knew the area was prone to flooding, and regularly checked the state of the nearby Eskdale River. During one inspection, she noticed signs of flooding and immediately made the decision to vacate the school, not waiting for advice from Civil Defence. Only a few hours later, deadly floods tore through the Hostel. Amelia’s quick-thinking, preparation, and ability to stay calm in crisis potentially saved many lives. Beyond that, Amelia's ongoing support to students and whānau in the weeks following gave much-needed peace of mind to students and their families.
After building a career in film working in art department for local and international film productions, Angela Wallace returned to Tauranga in 2013 – and her life took an unexpected turn. Confronted by the levels of homelessness she observed on the streets, Angela decided to do something. Gathering a team of like-minded women together, they worked to establish Awhina House. Awhina House is Tauranga's only transitional housing provider for women, offering essential services for homeless women in the community. With 12 beds, its purpose is to support and empower women to transform their lives. Working with a range of other local providers, they facilitate wraparound services to help women gain independence and move into housing of their own. This much-needed service is a testament to Angela’s dedication, compassion, and ongoing commitment to her community
Passionate, socially-minded and already making real impact, Aorangi Hetaraka is a young leader committed to supporting rangitahi across Aotearoa. Already, Aorangi Hetaraka has made waves as a member of New Zealand’s first national youth health advisory group, Mangai Whakatipu, before moving on to be on the youth advisory group to Te Aka Whai Ora Māori Health Authority. Aorangi has been a youth parliament member, part of the local council, and more recently; she and two other wāhine toa planned, set up and implemented a successful youth wellbeing festival – Puāwai Leadership Lab. Through all this, Aorangi is raising her own pēpi after becoming pregnant at age 14. Having recently completed NCEA Level 3, Aorangi is now embarking on her University career with part-time study. Passionate, socially-minded and already making real impact, Aorangi has faced challenges associated with being a young Mum, and risen above the social stigma setting a positive example for other rangatahi and the wider community.
Bevan Chapman is a More FM radio host in Tairāwhiti Gisborne. In the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle, Bevan slept in the studio over several nights, providing a crucial 24/7 broadcast to keep his listeners informed. With no phones or internet to rely on, people started delivering hand-written notes for Chapman to read out on air like a constant community noticeboard. In many ways, his actions represent everyday community heroism – selflessly sacrificing his own comfort and safety to ensure the people of Tairāwhiti could be informed of vital Civil Defence updates, and offering a much-needed morale boost to local listeners. While telecommunications have returned following Chapman's marathon stint and colleagues arrived as backup, the notes have kept on coming – a community thanking Bevan for his commitment to keeping them safe and informed.
Bill Thomson is a dedicated community champion, known for his years of service fostering and supporting businesses across the Clutha District. He was the founding Director of the Clutha District Chamber of Commerce and founding Chairman of the Enterprise Clutha Trust, now the Clutha Development Trust. In 1999, he was appointed as a Justice of the Peace and has previously chaired the Otago Community Trust. Now living in Wānaka, Bill continues his legacy of service to the Clutha community as Chairman of Clutha Health First, a community trust which prides itself on providing equitable care to a rural community. In this role, Bill led the introduction of the Māori Advisory committee to the Board and championed the appointment of a rūnanga representative to ensure equity of service. Bill is also the co-founder and Chair of the successfully established Clutha Foundation. The Clutha Foundation is managed locally for the benefit of the residents of the Clutha District and provides the opportunity for people to give where they live, and leave a lasting legacy to their community. Bill's loyalty, passion, and leadership around the south Ōtākou Otago region is exemplary, and his impact is deeply felt.
In 2018, Bridget Williams made the decision to take off the High Court gown and put on a necklace, leading to the creation of Bead & Proceed. This initiative inspires grassroots community action, inviting people across Aotearoa to take their own steps towards the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Bead & Proceed offer a range of SDG engagement and education tools for all industries, starting by bringing people together to make a five-beaded necklace, key ring, or bracelet to represent the top five SDGs they want to work toward. Since its launch in February 2019, over 15,000 participants have attended SDG workshops or purchased Bead & Proceed Kits. Bead & Proceed has grown to offer tailored SDG workshops and ongoing SDG consulting for businesses interested in growing their impact. With an “act local, think global” mentality, Bridget is a valued Chair of her local community board, a member of the World Economic Forum Global Shapers Community, the Asia New Zealand Leadership Network, Global Women, and a selected 30 for 2030 UN Women member.
Driven by a deep connection to the land and a strong responsibility to care for our unique wildlife, Cam Speedy has dedicated over 40 years to conservation. Through his extensive work with agencies and Mana Whenua, Cam has gained a profound understanding of our ecology and taonga species such as kiwi. Cam led the pest eradication project on Maungatautari, trained commercial fishers to protect seabirds, works with energy companies to protect whio and tuna and helps the Predator Free NZ Trust to educate community groups.
His love of hunting has led to his role with the Sika Foundation’s conservation and game management programmes and their "Venison for Foodbanks" initiative in the Central North Island. Cam shares his passion and knowledge with school groups, local rangatahi, future leaders, the hunting community, landowners and conservation groups across Aotearoa in an effort to inspire people, raise awareness & understanding of our wildlife and the importance of protecting our unique environment.
One of Motueka’s most connected and respected residents, Carol Fowler has dedicated her life to supporting her community. Often found fundraising, gathering and delivering food parcels, and extending a hand to anyone who is struggling – Carol is valued by many for her kindness, compassion and no-nonsense approach to caring for others. In her role as Attendance Officer at Motueka High School, her reach is generational; encouraging and helping students today just as she did with their parents (and in some cases, their grandparents!). However, her standing in the community goes way beyond her title – with a capacity to give that seems to know no bounds.
Celine Filbee is the manager of the Taranaki Kiwi Trust, a charitable organisation dedicated to protecting and preserving the Western Brown Kiwi population throughout Taranaki. In this role she has been truly instrumental to the conservation of Kiwi in the region – despite having no prior conservation experience! Under Celine’s strong leadership, the trust now employs an increased number of staff, have expanded the area protected by predator traps to 30,000ha, and ensured that the traps are checked regularly. They have also created a number of suitable Kiwi release sites around the region by connecting predator protected properties. Through it all she demonstrates innovation, compassionate leadership and a willingness to get things done – and continues to credit others for the remarkable results achieved.
Christina Robinson is on a mission to ensure her community is connected, fed and thriving. As the General Manager (and founding member) of The Daily Charitable Trust, Christina is involved in a wide range of local initiatives, with a focus on breaking the poverty cycle and filling the ‘gaps’ where many needs fall quietly through. Under her leadership, the Daily team provide over 2000 lunches daily for local schools, run the valued community space The Daily Cafe, and engage volunteers to help people get on top of their sections through The Daily Help programme. Selfless, hands-on and deeply committed to providing opportunities for others, Christina’s ongoing community service is nothing short of remarkable.
Clifford Thompson has dedicated his life to working in spaces that contribute to a healthy, positive community. From his time working in the Department of Corrections (where he received a rare Gold Award for rolling out positive, effective community initiatives) to his role as Wellbeing Manager for the New Zealand Rugby League – Cliff is a go-to for sound advice, leadership, friendship and encouragement. As a volunteer Sports Chaplain for the New Zealand Warriors and Franklin Bulls, and as a pastor at The Render Gathering, Cliff lives by the motto ‘If I have it, I will give it, If I can…I will.’ He is a man who wears many hats – facilitating wellbeing workshops for schools, fundraising for various causes, and even starting his own podcast encouraging athletes to talk about their mental health. He is always on hand to lend an ear, and his impact is felt deeply by those who turn to him.
On 14 February 1972, Colin Kilpatrick became a firefighter for the Inglewood Volunteer Fire Brigade. In 1997, he became the 18th member of the brigade to complete 25 years of service. On 14 February 2022, he accomplished an extraordinary feat, becoming only the second member in the brigade to reach 50 years. Colin is the 270th member of FENZ (Fire and Emergency NZ) to receive a 50-year medal. Over five decades, Colin has attended 2,712 musters out of a possible 3,158 – that's an impressive 86% attendance rate. With all musters, call outs, working bees, and other brigade events, Colin has given well over 10,000 volunteer hours to his community. All in all, Colin's offered a remarkable contribution and service that is truly deserving of recognition.
Corrin Webster and his partner Nicole Sutherland started out in 2020, providing kai for a few families in need from their home in Hoon Hay. However, the number quickly grew until they were supporting around 200 families per week – with numbers skyrocketing during the Covid-19 pandemic. Having only recently been granted charitable status, the couple have always operated out of their own home, with no funding, all while looking after their own growing kids – but their capacity for non-judgemental care never wavered. They continue to support whānau in need, rallying their community to get involved and give what they can. Leading with kindness and compassion, Corrin’s mahi has made so many lives a little easier every day.
Danielle Carson is a rangatahi and mental health champion from Waihōpai/Invercargill – dedicated to fighting for better systems, and supporting people in need. Danielle Carson was born to a resilient 21-year-old single mother, and has seen firsthand the inequity in our welfare systems – instilling in her a strong sense of justice and commitment to community advocacy. Joining the Invercargill City Youth Council at just 12 years of age, Danielle has grown to become a champion for rangatahi in her Murihiku community – even speaking in Parliament House at 18 on the mental health issues Southland faces. In 2023, she made the YWCA Young Achievers list, recognising “25 young wāhine and irarere under 25 years fighting for better systems, communities, and worlds.” In her spare time, Danielle has formed a partnership with Youthline southland to deliver free clothing designed by rangatahi to rangatahi. Through her previous work at a local social service centre, Number 10, Danielle arranged free period products and kai for people in need.
Daryl Gowers is a considered a local legend in his hometown of Tairāwhiti Gisborne. Motivated by his sister's breast cancer diagnosis, he's dedicated the past six years to fundraising for the Cancer Society. Through low-cost whiteware collection and recycling services, he's raised an impressive $250,000. Daryl voluntarily disassembles items, selling recyclable materials to benefit the society – while simultaneously reducing landfill waste. Operating from his home, Daryl also organizes sponsored walks and collects fundraising items like daffodils for Daffodil Day. His profound impact is no mean feat, and he has inspired many with his selfless dedication to a cause that matters.
Since 2019, Dave Hall has been a volunteer with the Taranaki Cancer Society: ready and willing to lend a hand whenever and wherever needed. Whatever the task – from taking down posters to delivering daffodils and donation buckets – Dave is a dedicated and generous support, enabling events and fundraisers to run smoothly. When something needs doing, Dave is often the first to raise his hand, even volunteering to clean work vehicles on a fortnightly rotation. While often the task may appear small, the impact is deeply felt – and this action in turns helps the Cancer Society to provide much-needed support to people and whānau in some of their most vulnerable times. Outside the Cancer Society, Dave has been a member of the New Plymouth Central Lions for over 22 years and also volunteers with Meals on Wheels. He is truly a community-minded person, and one that many people are grateful to count on.
When you mention the name Didymo Dave to anyone around Taupō, chances are they’ll know who he is and what he does to protect local waterways for future generations. With a huge emphasis on spreading the Check, Clean, Dry message in the Central Plateau area, Didymo Dave is a true conservation hero. With a grassroots approach to advocacy, Dave never misses the opportunity to talk to anyone about biosecurity – and will even go as far as scrubbing people’s boots to prevent them from spreading pests and diseases. He is a local youth ambassador, helping young people find a sense of purpose through a connection to nature. Passionate, dedicated and genuinely inspiring, Dave helps people across the community build the necessary skills to enjoy the outdoors – and either leave it the way they found it, or better yet; improve it!
Dee Glentworth is an extraordinary force in her community, driving positive change and sustainability through her project, Freeforall. This initiative, which began in her garage in 2015 and has since grown into a warehouse operation, prevents usable items from going to landfills by offering them freely back to the community. Dee stands out due to her unwavering commitment, driven solely by her passion for the environment and her community. Nine years ago, she made the bold decision to step away from her teaching career, channeling all her energy into Freeforall.. Dee's work ethic, empathy, and vision are remarkable, and her tireless efforts have not only made positive sustainable change but also reduced financial stress for thousands of families.
Dr. Ingrid Visser is the Founder and Principal Scientist of the New Zealand-based Orca Research Trust, which works to protect orca and their habitat through conservation, education and scientific research. Since 1992, she has worked with orcas not only around New Zealand, but also in the waters of Antarctica, Argentina and Papua New Guinea, and has also contributed to orca research projects in the Kamchatka region of Russia, off the North American coasts of Washington, Alaska and British Colombia, and in the waters of Iceland, where she worked with the Keiko project. Ingrid’s work has appeared in various magazines and on numerous TV documentaries. She is also the author of two children’s books and an autobiography, Swimming with Orca. A passionate advocate for these precious creatures, Ingrid is not often in the spotlight – but her impact is phenomenal, and her willingness to share her knowledge and passion is greatly appreciated by those who know her.
Dr. Olive Webb is a remarkable and tireless advocate for New Zealanders with learning disabilities. Over decades, her impact on service providers has been truly transformative, offering invaluable guidance in understanding neurodiversity (particularly non-verbal communication). This has resulted in significant positive changes in the delivery of services. Throughout her career, she has remained wholly committed to sharing her knowledge and understanding with anyone in need, including families, schools, and service providers. She is a strong and constant advocate, deeply valued by the families and communities her mahi serves. 2023 marks a significant milestone for Olive as she prepares to release her book titled 'From behind Closed Doors,' a poignant reflection on her 50-year journey alongside individuals with intellectual disabilities.
Dr. Ruakere Hond is a longstanding advocate of reo Māori revitalisation and key supporter of the Parihaka community. For over 30 years, he worked to re-create Māori speaker communities by contributing to Māori language immersion programmes for adult education and community-based reo development projects, particularly in Taranaki. His views have helped influence Aotearoa New Zealand’s language revitalisation strategy as a past member of Te Taura Whiri and Te Mātāwai. Currently, Ruakere has multiple roles in the community and with research and health organisations, while also a sitting member of the Waitangi Tribunal. Within ‘Te Ahu o Te Reo Māori’, a teacher development project for reo Māori use, Ruakere has the position of Mātanga Reo, giving specialist support in content development, programme strategy, and in the relationship with the Ministry of Education.
In 2021, Eliana Maiava founded Whare Manaaki in Māwhera Greymouth: a kaupapa Māori space where everyone is welcome, empowering the community to grow together. Since then, this special whare has grown from strength to strength, grounded in its vision of providing a space where everyone can come to find safety and connection. With Eli at the helm, Whare Manaaki has become a precious community taonga, expanding to encompass many community events and services. The end result is a space that is identifiably Māori, led by tikanga and manaaki, where a community can come together as a whānau.
Evan Davies is a volunteer of extraordinary dedication. Over the past six years, he has worn many hats in support of New Plymouth Boys' High School, embodying the spirit of selfless service. He leads by example, grounded in a commitment to supporting the most vulnerable, and enriching the lives of young men he teaches. His passion for volunteering has ignited a spark in many students, encouraging their involvement in community projects. Whether it’s taking on roles as an emcee, musician, sign poster, donation collector, crew organiser, fundraiser, educator, or house mover, Evan is an unwavering supporter of various causes, and an outstanding champion for New Plymouth Boys' High School.
A passionate volunteer, Fenn Shaw has dedicated countless hours to the Rotary Community Breastmilk Bank, working with midwives in the community to provide easily accessible donor milk to parents in need. The RCBMB is a completely voluntary service – one which Fenn was instrumental in establishing. To this day, she continues to offer her time and support, not only as a trustee and board member, but in a hands-on capacity in many aspects of the organisation. In addition to her work with RCBMB, she has also donated a great deal of her time to Abbyfield Christchurch, supporting isolated elderly community members. A generous person who cares deeply about the welfare of others, Fenn’s ready smile, sense of humour, and pragmatism is appreciated by all who know and work with her.
Fiona Clark is one of Aotearoa’s most notable photographers but, thanks to the repressive environment of 1970s New Zealand, her career was almost stubbed out before it began. The artist’s early images captured the heady local excitement of gay liberation that mainstream society was not ready to accept; her negatives were censored, images pulled from exhibition, and art dealers refused to work with her. Four decades later, Fiona Clark has a different story: one of overcoming censorship, homophobia, sexism, and debilitating physical injuries to become one of our most respected social documentarians. Her work reveals the human dignity of people together and alone in a country at times gripped by repressive attitudes. Her work represents a serious achievement in New Zealand culture, and remains a beacon for fearless art-making.
Known to her community as “Angel Gabrielle” Gabrielle Carman is a dedicated volunteer, advocate and champion for people who need support. Since 2014 she has been a member of Saint Vincent de Paul, where she manages various community activities such as the weekly Community Meal (managing a team of 50 volunteers!) Gabrielle volunteers at weekly Whare Kai sessions, supporting parents to cook meals cost effective meals for their young
families. She is a key contact for people seeking emergency help and acts as an advocate for people dealing with government services and has worked on the Board of the New Plymouth Emergency Shelter Trust. Since 2014, when Gabrielle arrived in New Plymouth, her work with St Vincent de Paul has involved an array of charitable works bringing hope and practical support to those in need. Patient empathetic and always willing to walk a mile in someone else’s shoes, Gabrielle consistently lifts people up with her trademark respect, hope and joy.
Gerry is a dedicated engineer turned volunteer, tirelessly working to empower education providers and community facilities with solar panel infrastructure. His mission is to reduce overheads, minimise carbon footprints, and redirect funds toward nurturing the growth of young minds. With precision and expertise, Gerry meticulously researches and models the best solar solutions for schools and clubs. He shares his knowledge with rangatahi, teaching them valuable skills related to his work. Gerry has fostered professional relationships with solar suppliers, expertly negotiating systems and costs on behalf of community groups. He oversees installations, attends meetings, and ensures that community members are well-versed in utilising the equipment efficiently. As well as this Gerry has been a volunteer crew member for the Bay of Islands Coastguard keeping his community safe.
His efforts benefit thousands of young people and community members, promoting sustainability and redirecting funds to education and sports programmes. Gerry's unwavering commitment, reliability, and gentle spirit are invaluable assets to the Kerikeri and Northland communities, providing opportunities for youth to thrive.
Glen Thurston’s remarkable efforts to raise awareness for mental health in the construction industry are having significant impact, inspiring many to break the stigma surrounding this critical issue. His dedication was put to the test when he climbed Corner Peak an astounding 53 times in 53 days as part of his campaign ‘Turn the Corner.’ This monumental achievement was not for personal gain or fundraising, but to shine a spotlight on the mental health challenges faced by those in the construction industry. His feat captured the attention of the Ōtākou Otago community, sparking vital conversations and encouraging others to address mental health openly. In addition to his campaign mahi, Glen regularly delivers impactful talks on mental health and is in the process of launching his next campaign called MentalHunts helping break down the barriers of mental health within the hunting community. Glen's words have resonated deeply with local organisations, schools, and workplaces, fostering a culture of understanding and support.
For Glenda, no task is too small, and no person is unworthy of kindness and compassion. Glenda, a dedicated volunteer with Alzheimers Taranaki since November 2012, exemplifies unwavering commitment to her community. Every Tuesday and Friday, she shows up for the Alzheimers Taranaki Day Programme, a lifeline for those touched by dementia. Starting her day at 8:30 am, Glenda brightens the room with freshly picked garden flowers. Beyond this, she extends her kindness by transporting clients as needed, showcasing her trademark hospitality, empathy, and support. She is a ‘go-to’ support in the organisation’s kitchen, working alongside staff and volunteers to ensure everything runs smoothly. Her influence now extends to her family, inspiring her sister and daughter to join the cause. For Glenda, no task is too small, and no person is unworthy of kindness and compassion.
Graeme Norman's transformative leadership as the Principal of Te Kōmanawa Rowley School is a testament to the incredible impact one individual can have on a community. In an area plagued by economic challenges, his unwavering dedication has brought about a remarkable turnaround that encompasses both academic progress and holistic well-being. Attendance rates, once stagnant at a disheartening 40%, have soared under Graeme's guidance. His relentless efforts to create an inviting and nurturing atmosphere have led to children eagerly walking through Rowley School's doors – and during holiday breaks, he remains a dedicated support, on hand most days for anyone who needs him. Graeme's actions extend far beyond the confines of a job description. He has taken on the role of a guardian and mentor for children who desperately needed hope. Graeme's impact is a reminder that true heroes aren't defined by grand gestures, but by the consistent, compassionate actions they undertake to improve the lives of others.
Graham Wells is an integral part of the Rotokare Sanctuary Project. His positive attitude, skills, and team-player approach make him a brilliant volunteer, and his contribution is vital to the success of Rotokare. Since 2018, Graham Wells has been an invaluable volunteer for the Rotokare Sanctuary Project, keeping the local kiwi population safe from predators. Part of the fence and trap-check team, Graham walks around the sanctuary perimeter fence line, diligently checking the fence and fence platform for signs of deterioration, invasion and erosion. Graham does this every week of the year, rain, hail or shine! An excellent advocate for Rotokare, he willingly chats to visitors, answering their many questions and being a friendly and positive face around the community. During the kiwi translocation season, Graham enthusiastically joins the kiwi catch teams. He willingly spends all daylight hours climbing, sliding and fossicking in the dense Rotokare bush to carefully catch and extract kiwi. Graham is always up for a chat over a cup of tea, after spending a long and muddy morning in the Rotokare ngāhere – and his contribution is vital to the success of Rotokare.
Four years ago, Guy Oakley – a retired veterinarian – embarked on a remarkable journey with the Taranaki Kiwi Trust (TKT). Despite limited experience in avian care, his retirement quickly transformed into almost a full-time commitment, dedicated to safeguarding kiwi populations with the TKT and Rotokare Scenic Reserve. In that time, Guy has evolved into an adept kiwi tracker and a certified handler, thanks to a nudge from peers. In 2020, TKT and Rotokare initiated a pioneering project to reintroduce kiwi into the wild. Guy, with trademark determination, undertook external training to lead health screenings, securing free laboratory services through his connections. He also organised his training to process samples and aims to provide a microscope for further education. His veterinary expertise and industry connections have proven invaluable to the team, and his dedication to kiwi conservation deserves r
Hailing from Waitaha Canterbury, Piwi Gwyneth Beard is a dedicated advocate for her community. After entering care at the age of 11, Piwi has ultimately channelled traumatic experiences into a force for good. In 2018, she established Tū Pono: Mana Tangata, a kaupapa that operates through wānanga and programmes developed to provide advocacy and raise awareness of domestic violence, suicide, and sexual abuse. Piwi believes that knowledge and understanding of tikanga are key to interrupting the cycle of family violence in Māori families. Piwi's commitment to supporting families and empowering individuals has brought positive change to countless lives.
Habib Marwat is a remarkable community leader and devoted volunteer. Habib's significant contributions to the Royal Commission of Inquiry, coupled with his unwavering support during the challenging times of the COVID-19 pandemic, underscore the depth of his commitment to aiding his community. His extraordinary initiative, "Strengthens Ties via Sport," conceived in response to March 15th, promoted a sense of unity through cricket matches between the police and the Muslim community. He also co-founded an inclusive sports program in Ōtautahi Christchurch, encouraging ethnic women and girls to embrace physical activity, sports, and recreation. In recognition of his unifying efforts and remarkable response to the aftermath of the tragic events of March 15th, he was awarded the prestigious Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) in 2021. In everything he does, Habib's legacy is one of unity, hope, and unwavering dedication, leaving an indelible mark on the communities he serves.
With over 23 years of dedicated service, Helen Morrin has transformed the Christchurch Cancer Society Tissue Bank (CSTB) into an internationally renowned facility, in the process providing patients the opportunity to donate surplus tumor material for the benefit of future research. Amidst major challenges such as the Christchurch earthquake, Helen kept the CSTB operational,regularly entering the red stickered medical school building, to maintain and service the bank's freezers. Beyond her CSTB role, Helen leads the Science Policy Committee for ISBER, here she is recognised as their leading expert in ethical and cultural practices as well as disaster recovery management. Her tireless commitment to community service and research advancement is truly remarkable, not just locally but internationally.
Transforming her carport into a makeshift classroom during the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle is truly inspiring. Hoana Forrester’s story is one of service, tenacity, and dedication to the betterment of her kin. When Cyclone Gabrielle tore through the Tairawhiti region, the tiny rural township of Tokomaru Bay was hit hard. Power, communications, and accessibility systems collapsed, cutting off all access to the outside world. The impending disruption to the education system saw Hoana kick into action, opening her doors to the cyclone-affected children of her wa kaenga (homeland). Her innovative approach to bridging the educational gap could be seen in the tailored lessons she created for the 6 to 17-year-old students who, for 7 weeks, attended her carport-turned-classroom space daily. Through Hoana’s unwavering dedication and determination, she brought joy and a sense of togetherness to 22 of our most vulnerable within the community—our children. This illustrates how one teacher’s aroha can make a profound difference in the lives of those she serves.
Hugh Wilson is a world-renowned botanist, conservationist, and the kaitiaki (manager) of Hinewai Reserve. For 30 years, he has overseen the regeneration of native flora at Hinewai, and the transformation of the landscape from farmland to forest. He has done this through his own devotion, and despite initial scepticism. Hugh has been a pioneer of nature-led regeneration processes, using the natural progression of ecological recovery to achieve reforesting on a scale that humans cannot accomplish. The author of numerous books, Hugh shares his extensive knowledge with great generosity. In everything he does, Hugh continues to be a shining example of what it means to truly live your values.
In the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle, the small Hawke's Bay farming community of Pātoka was cut off from the rest of the country by road, with no electricity and limited communications. In the face of adversity the community rallied, with Isabelle stepping up as a natural leader. During this tough time for the community, Isabelle was on hand – organising food parcels for the locals, being the central point of contact for relief groups, and providing regular updates on everything via social media channels. Her contribution to the response and recovery effort was nothing short of incredible – boosting morale amongst the locals and making real impact in the process.
Jade Humphrey, a University of Canterbury PhD student from Riccarton, Christchurch, shines as a dynamic leader dedicated to community impact. Her brainchild, the Predator Free Riccarton (PFR) initiative, is a testament to her commitment to environmental conservation. With just a $5,000 startup fund, Jade has rallied her community, deploying over 350 traps and engaging students through the University of Canterbury and local schools. Beyond trapping, she has initiated rubbish pick-ups, mentored new groups, and offered resources for predator-free initiatives, all while navigating the permissions needed to involve local groups in trapping efforts within parks and reserves across the region. Jade's mahi, innovation, and passion epitomises impactful leadership, making her a deserving recipient of recognition for her remarkable community-driven achievements.
Janneth Gil is a photographer and engineer based in Ōtautahi Christchurch, using her passion for the arts as a tool for social change. Her aim is to encourage dialogue, tolerance, and inclusivity in the face of adversity and hardship. Her social photography-based projects include Our Voices (www.ourvoices.co.nz) depicting the life stories of a group of people living with disability in Ōtautahi/Christchurch. After the tragic events of March 15, Janneth documented the Widows of Shuhada, photographed tributes, and conducted healing printmaking workshops for grieving women. Her more recent projects focus on healing art practices, advocating for migrants and rare disorder patients in Aotearoa. Janneth embodies resilience, intelligence, and a zest for life, and is a beacon of hope and connection in the Canterbury community.
Known as ‘Aunty Jeanne’ across her community, Jeanne O’Brien is a champion for rangatahi and a creator of change. For the past 40 years, she’s been fighting for the needs of taiohi (young people) – identifying gaps, and working on innovative solutions and opportunities to ensure no one gets left behind. From supporting young people to get their driver's license to providing mental health education, upskilling and professional training, overseeing sporting and holiday programmes, and youth mentoring – no barrier is too hard to tackle for Aunty Jeanne. She believes supporting the next generation is a lifestyle, not a job. Genuinely invested in their lives, worlds, and futures, she empowers and supports her team to do the same. Jeanne walks alongside taiohi, remaining a pillar of strength. Jeanne's passion, support, and love for all taiohi has remained constant, with taiohi at the centre of all that she does.
Social worker Jeet Suchdev is a well-known community leader with far-reaching impact, supporting senior citizens, children, migrants, and youth. His remarkable efforts include facilitating repatriation, establishing safe refuges for domestic violence victims, and founding Ashirwad, New Zealand's first culturally-appropriate retirement home. During the Auckland anniversary floods, Jeet assisted flood and cyclone affected families with food, clothing, bedding, and essential supplies. During Covid-19 lockdown, he supported stranded Indian families with accommodations, food, and medicines. He played a key role in bringing together 160+ organisations to set up United Voice, an advocacy group for migrants, and is credited with co-organising Pan Asian New Year Celebrations at the NZ Parliament to assist many Asian cultures to collectively celebrate their New Year. Whatever the cause, Jeet is a social worker whose consistent and courageous advocacy has made him a beacon of hope – for us, and for thousands settling in Aotearoa New Zealand from around the world.
Jenny Calder is a key volunteer for Taskforce Kiwi (TFK), an organisation supporting communities across Aotearoa New Zealand by helping them prepare for, respond to, and recover from disasters. An NZ Defence Force veteran, Jenny has been busy to say the least: deployed twice to Australia on flood relief operations, twice to Hawkes Bay following Cyclone Gabrille, and most recently to nova Scotia, Canada to assist with bushfire relief. However, Jenny’s service to the wider community is not limited to Taskforce Kiwi. So far in 2023, she has also supported NZ Police during operation Waitangi, worked in the regional Civil Defence response to Cyclone Gabrielle, carried out two one Civil Defence Deployments to Hawke’s Bay, supported the Incident Management Team to Kaitāia during a local weather event, and held team management roles during Search and Rescue operations at Abbey Caves, Parihaka and Kaihu. In her spare time, Jenny is a volunteer leader with Te Kamo Scout Group, this year supporting a youth contingent to the 23rd Aotearoa NZ Jamboree, and she volunteered with Rally NZ during the 2023 International Rally of Whangārei. Jenny is also a member of NZ Emergency Management Assistance Team. Jenny’s leadership, generosity and commitment to service is unparalleled, and her work has helped to strengthen community resilience in Aotearoa and beyond.
Jenny Oakley has been a dedicated volunteer with the Taranaki Kiwi Trust (TKT) for nearly four years, despite initially having no prior experience in bird conservation. Her commitment to the cause is remarkable; enthusiastically embracing every chance to provide support, and generously guiding others along the way. Over time, Jenny has developed into an exceptional kiwi tracker, and is now an accredited handler. Her involvement extends to a wide range of projects, from tracking kiwi to monitoring predator traps. When a Kiwi is missing, Jenny will often volunteer for the search – spending entire days climbing up and down ridges looking for them. Jenny’s kindness, generosity and willingness to support others is deeply appreciated by everyone at TKT, and the Kiwi in Taranaki wouldn’t be thriving in the same way without her!
It takes more than one man to turn the tide, but Joe Byford has been fundamental in the re-opening of Papakai Park in Taihape, breathing new life into the idyllic riverside space. Joe's efforts included developing an extensive network of walking tracks through native bush, complete with bridges that link to other reserves. These walkways cater to a wide range of enthusiasts, from casual strollers to serious hikers and mountain bikers. Joe's commitment doesn't stop there; he's also been instrumental in restoring another bush reserve, Mt. Stewart, after it fell into disarray. Throughout his life, Joe's family-owned contracting business has positively impacted hundreds of locals, earning him the respect of employees, customers, and competitors alike. His exemplary behaviour and continuous efforts inspire many to volunteer their time, ensuring that these valuable resources remain accessible to all, fostering a deeper connection to nature and appreciation for New Zealand's natural beauty.
Karen Hyland, CEO of Waiuku Family Support Network, is a dedicated community leader with a remarkable track record of transformation. Over the past four years, she has revitalised a small, volunteer-based community trust into a vital professional support network serving the Waiuku community in South Auckland. Karen's tireless advocacy has created a safe place for a diverse range of vulnerable people, including victims of domestic abuse, the homeless, the elderly, children, and those grappling with addiction and mental health challenges. She has introduced professional counseling, financial navigation support, and a creative hub for local artists. Karen’s drive and professionalism have helped countless people across the community – and her creative solutions are steeped in a commitment to dignity and aroha for all.
Kate is a compassionate humanitarian who identified a critical gap in funding for lunches in high-decile schools with social housing catchment zones. In response, she discreetly started providing lunch bags to hungry students twice a week, working tirelessly from her own kitchen alongside her husband, Mike. Her efforts quickly grew, inspiring a dedicated group of volunteers to serve around 400 children across 15 Christchurch primary schools. To meet rising demand, Kate secured a commercial property earlier this year. Her drive attracted donations to sustain this essential service, reducing truancy and increasing student engagement. Today, Kate still spends most of her week organising food deliveries, overseeing volunteer bakers, food preparation, and school delivery volunteers. Her compassion and can-do approach has made a significant impact, providing nutritious food to children in need and ultimately supporting their learning and engagement in school.
At just 24 years old, Keegan Jones is a young Whangārei lawyer with a passion for helping his iwi and empowering Māori in Te Tai Tokerau. He initiated Northland's first collaborative legal services clinic, a groundbreaking project in partnership with Ngāti Hine Health Trust and 155 Community Law. These fortnightly free legal clinics are built on values of manaakitanga and whanaungatanga, ensuring a welcoming environment for whānau seeking access to legal services. Since their launch in March 2023, the clinics have assisted over 50 clients. Keegan's vision extends beyond Northland; he launched the NZ Free Legal Clinics Project to assist aspiring lawyers in replicating the successful free legal clinics model nationwide. Keegan's dedication promises to transform lives by providing accessible legal support across Aotearoa New Zealand.
Dr. Kelly Feng is a pioneering force for mental health care for Asian and ethnic minorities. Through her tenure with Waitemata Te Whetu Ora, and in her current role as Chief Executive Director of Asian Family Services (AFS), Kelly has been an unwavering champion for Asian communities. She pioneered Asian Mental Health Services, addressing long-neglected service gaps. She also introduced the "Incredible Years" parenting programme to Chinese and Korean communities, and spearheaded psychological interventions for non-English speakers. Under her stewardship, AFS has not only grown in scale but also in impact. Her dedication to serving Asian communities is widely recognised and respected, and her tenacity motivates and energises her colleagues to become advocates. She has a vision for a more inclusive society where these communities not only belong, but also thrive – and she’s making real impact to help us get there.
When Kim Morton founded Ōtautahi Creative Spaces, she knew creativity had the power to change lives. Since then, she's built a thriving community of people from all walks of life, using creativity as tool for positive change. Working in partnership with whānau, mental health agencies, and cultural facilities, Ōtautahi Creative Spaces creates opportunities for more than 100 people with experience of mental distress and trauma. The idea is simple: get creative with mental health. Since inception, Ōtautahi Creative Spaces has grown into a hive of activity, servicing a deep need in the community and helping hundreds of people to flourish and thrive.
Kim Steetskamp is known for her boundless generosity, compassion, and kindness. She is also the co-founder of Clothed in Love, a charity dedicated to supporting families in Christchurch. Alongside her husband Scott, Kim provided the property, shipping containers, and numerous resources to run this special children's clothing bank. She has not only opened her home to stacks of clothing, but also to volunteers – who in time have become part of her extended family. Kim leads by example, tirelessly sorting, packing, and delivering clothes; and the positive ripple effect of her work is felt by families across Canterbury.
Having personally triumphed over a 14-year struggle with an eating disorder, Kristie Amadio defied discouraging diagnoses and sought treatment in the United States, emerging fully recovered. Inspired by her transformative experience, Kristie and her team introduced Aotearoa's first-ever specialized, charitable residential eating disorder treatment center. With remarkable determination, they acquired and renovated a North Canterbury facility, Recovered Living, designed to offer specialized, holistic treatment in a nurturing environment. The program has already saved lives, and Kristie and the team support those who cannot afford it through scholarships. Kristie's vision is to ensure access to eating disorder treatment for all New Zealanders so that they can live fully recovered lives.
Kristyl Neho is a Māori wahine, actress, director, speaker, writer, single mother, and rangatahi advocate from Te Matau a Māui, Hawke's Bay. She stands as an inspiring force for change, grounded in her Māori heritage and LDS beliefs. Kristyl's passions lie in people, personal development, and the performing arts. She has overcome numerous challenges to help others and has emerged as a true inspiration, dedicated to serving those around her.
Her unwavering determination, resilience, and commitment to excellence have propelled her to the forefront of the industry. Through Maia Dreams, Kristyl has had the privilege of impacting over 6,000 lives through transformative programs and events, empowering young minds to be their best selves.She identified a need and developed a program called Confident Me over 14 years ago, having had the privilege of working alongside over 12,000 children and youth throughout New Zealand. This initiative focuses on building confidence, resilience, self-belief, self-regulation, storytelling, and more. Kristyl's efforts touch whānau and build networks that promote youth well-being for rangatahi across the community.
As a fourth generation farmer from Tūranganui-a-Kiwa Gisborne, Laura Watson isn't afraid to get stuck in. In her role as Catchment Coordinator for the Waimata Restoration Project, Laura has transformed it into one of New Zealand’s leading on-farm biodiversity projects. She’s been an ongoing advocate for conservation, spreading her impactful message through speaking engagements at conferences like the O Tātou Ngāhere Conference. In the face of Cyclone Gabrielle and subsequent weather challenges, Laura spearheaded the Waimatā Catchment recovery effort, securing over $100,000 in self-generated funding to get farmers back on their feet. Laura led teams of operators, volunteers, and community members, and her work has been showcased nationally as the exemplar of what community recovery efforts should and could look like in the rural sector.
Leana Hamlin is well known around Palmerston North as the 'Community Kai Champion' for the Manawatū Food Action Network. She spearheads initiatives promoting food sovereignty, such as installing compost bins and vegetable gardens in schools and homes. Leana's efforts empower locals to become more self-sufficient, benefiting them financially, mentally, emotionally, and physically. She also volunteers with Community Fruit Harvest, harvesting surplus food and redistributing it to local food cupboards. On top of this, she runs her own initiative 'Walk With Larnz', sharing her food sovereignty journey and offering support to those facing life's challenges. Leana is a pillar of the community, offering connection, education and inspiration that is appreciated by many.
Linda Coulston served as the General Manager of SuperGrans Tairāwhiti for 11 years, leading an organization dedicated to empowering communities through the sharing of generational skills and knowledge. In her role, she effectively managed all aspects of the organization and expanded its reach to the entire East Coast. Under her guidance, SuperGrans has evolved into a powerful force for good, positively impacting numerous community members. This was particularly evident during the COVID-19 epidemic and Cyclone Gabrielle, where Linda coordinated support for over 6200 families. Linda is a "big picture" person, with her focus over the past 11 years centering on ending food insecurity across Tairāwhiti Gisborne. The impact of her work stands as a testament to her character, values, and vision for fostering whānau-focused change.
Lorna Fawkner is a generous volunteer across the Taranaki community, lending her support to a wide range of activities and services. With a long history of volunteer work, her recent activities include serving at Marfell's Cook St Café, where she not only cooks but also shares knowledge with staff and volunteers. Lorna has actively engaged with Marfell School's Rising Achievers' programme, providing tea and support to students and conducting cooking classes. During the COVID-19 crisis, she single-handedly crafted over 1000 masks for students and their families. Lorna's generosity extends to making jams, pickles, and relishes for fundraising and donating them to those in need, offering transportation assistance, preparing meals, and providing sewing and mending services. Her efforts are deeply appreciated by everyone in the community.
Since 2007, Louise Mathys has been a dedicated member of the Taranaki Cancer Society. Beginning as a client driver, she ensured that individuals from Ōpunake reached their hospital appointments comfortably. Louise's contributions then expanded to crafting blankets, hats, mittens, and slippers, which distributed using the shuttle service to Palmerston North. As a Relay for Life champion, she led "The Missin One" team to become one of Taranaki's top fundraisers for three years. Her outstanding efforts on Daffodil Day, including raffle ticket sales, pop-up shop work, and gym fundraising, are a testament to her commitment to the cause. Louise's advocacy through the Access Radio segment "That 'C' Word" has effectively spread awareness of the Taranaki Cancer Society's services. Her infectious motivation and willingness to explore new avenues for fundraising and community outreach make her an invaluable asset to the team.
Lyn Gordon, based in Hawke's Bay Te Matau-a-Māui, is a remarkable community leader dedicated to supporting families in need. She manages a self-funded initiative, "Donations for Families in Need," serving the wider Wairoa community. She does this at her own cost, by herself, often driving for hours in her own vehicle to pick up donated food, clothing or resources. She is supported by her family members who help distribute food parcels, deliver Christmas presents, or much needed resources to give whānau a hand up. She leads with a non-judgemental approach, emphasising a "hand up, not a handout" philosophy. When whānau in the community felt embarrassed to ask for support, Lyn had a storage box built on the front of her property so that others could help themselves when it was needed. Her mahi and aroha has helped countless families from all walks of life, and the Wairoa community is stronger for it.
Maia Tipene, a dedicated volunteer with Taskforce Kiwi (TFK), played a pivotal role in the Cyclone Gabrielle response in Te Matau-a-Māui Hawke's Bay. A Hastings local and University of Otago surgical trainee, Maia spent four weeks on the ground, contributing 2,627 hours of disaster relief work. Her responsibilities included debris clearance, needs assessments, aid delivery, and logistics support. Leveraging her medical expertise, Maia conducted initial assessments and referrals for community members. Demonstrating strong leadership, she served as the key liaison between TFK, Ngāti Kahungunu, Tihei Mauri Ora, and the Hawke's Bay Civil Defence and Emergency Management Group. At just 22 years old, Maia's ease in leadership earned her the role of Rotation Commander, overseeing a multinational volunteer team. Maria's ongoing mahi had a significant impact, demonstrating her exceptional dedication and outstanding service to the community.
Margaret (Marg) Becker, a community champion on the Tai-o-Poutini West Coast, has dedicated 25 years to revitalising and preserving the Kaiata Community Centre and Hall, and advocating for wider community progress. The hall has always been community owned, and Marg's tireless efforts have not only saved it from closure, but transformed it into a thriving hub. She excels in fundraising, organising events, and ensuring the hall's financial sustainability. Her impact encompasses the creation of a vibrant playground, securing a defibrillator, and offering ongoing support to seniors.
Work on the playground extended to road safety, successfully petitioning for road widening, new road signage, installation of footpaths, and lowering of the speed limit to allow the community to access the hall, playground and school buses safely.
Marg is a community-oriented person who often shies away from the limelight - but while it's true that community plays a role in the hall's success, it's undeniable that Marg's leadership, dedication, and vision have been instrumental in bringing this special community space back to life
For the last five years, Margaret Lewis has worked for Lifewise, an Auckland-based community social development organisation that aims to turn lives around. She focuses her efforts on assisting rough sleepers, and supporting the wāhine associated with the Merge Community. Her work begins with relationships that have trust and respect at their heart, and her innate ability to forge genuine connections is having a transformative impact on the lives of those she works with. Her latest initiative, the Ringa Wera project, offers cooking workshops encouraging people to cook with unfamiliar ingredients. Her approach emphasises choice and agency, believing in individuals' power to shape their own futures, all while advocating for fairness and social justice at a system and policy level.
As the Assistant Principal at Christchurch Girls High School, Maria Lemalie goes above and beyond for her students – and her passion, unwavering support and generosity is changing lives for the better. When students are struggling, Maria is on hand to lift them up – providing endless opportunities, supporting with University applications and generally demonstrating a kindness and commitment that goes well beyond her role. In a broader sense, she has organised Canterbury Polyfest for the last 15+ years, been a consistent voice for Pasifika students and done endless work behind the scenes to ensure her students can shine. Her selfless dedication and heart-led approach is greatly appreciated by everyone at the Christchurch Girls High community, and across Canterbury.
Marie Gray shines as a dedicated environmental steward and community connector in Canterbury. Her influence over the transformation of the Port Hills is profound. She serves as the heart and guiding light of the Summit Road Society, overseeing reserves and spearheading native bush restoration efforts across 500 hectares. Under her guidance, tōtara trees once again spread their roots in the hills. In addition, Marie's leadership extends to the Predator Free Port Hills initiative, uniting nearly 1500 trappers and fostering community involvement. Her tireless work ethic, infectious enthusiasm, and exceptional collaboration make her an extraordinary candidate for recognition. Her commitment to conservation and community is a beacon of hope for a greener future.
Matt Brown is an author and renowned communicator who works to eliminating domestic violence by supporting perpetrators in their journey towards healing. A survivor of family violence and childhood sexual abuse, Matt originally started his domestic violence advocacy work by sharing his story with the men who frequented his busy barbershops. Since 2018, Matt and his partner, Sarah, have partnered with the NZ Ministry of Social Development as ambassadors for the ‘It’s not OK Campaign.’ They secured funding to develop and launch the InnerBoy app, promoting accessible healing for indigenous men. The couple are proud ambassadors for the work of Aviva Families, a family violence service centre in Ōtautahi Christchurch, and for MATE, a programme within a domestic violence research department in Griffith University in Australia. Together, they co-founded 'She Is Not Your Rehab,' an invitation for men to acknowledge their own childhood trauma and take responsibility for their healing. In 2022, they opened the 'She Is Not Your Rehab' art gallery, hosting the exhibition 'Who is she?' in collaboration with Mr G, a renowned artist.
Maureen Duffy, a dedicated volunteer with Taskforce Kiwi (TFK), stands out for her exceptional contributions to disaster relief efforts – holding the record for the longest deployment time, having spent 8 weeks on the ground in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle. Maureen's roles ranged from hands-on debris removal and aid delivery to logistics coordination and even leading multinational volunteer teams as a Rotation Commander. She played a pivotal role in fundraising, securing over $40,000 for TFK, enabling them to provide 4,649 volunteer hours of relief in Hawke's Bay. Maureen's unwavering commitment and service, both in New Zealand and internationally, make her a worthy candidate for recognition.
Megan Fairley is a resilient and community-focused individual from Otago Ōtākou. In the face of personal challenge, Megan channeled her energy into becoming an inspirational business women and community leader. A dedicated advocate for mental health, Megan founded the charitable organisation Project Hope & Beyond, organising fundraising events to support local mental health and community charities. Megan played a vital role in organising farewell tours for the Cadbury factory, where she was once a dedicated employee, providing closure and an opportunity for ex-workers and the public to bid farewell before its demolition. Her commitment to fundraising and supporting her community is unwavering, as she generously dedicates hours of her time to various initiatives and causes with consistent respect and kindness.
A youth worker for 13 years, Mitch Shaw understands that charities face a constant battle to raise funds. In response, he developed a revolutionary online business directory that generates funding for children and youth charities – Upstream. Upstream is a social enterprise which partners with businesses to create change through their supply chain. By using Upstream suppliers, businesses and consumers have generated over $268,000 in contributions to a range of charities – and counting! Alongside his mahi with Upstream, Mitch and the team have also created OATAS (Our Actions Tell A Story) – a unique software which enables businesses to tell their environmental, community and operational sustainability outcomes.
Neela Neela, based in Te Matau-a-Māui Hawke's Bay, is a true hero in her community. Following Cyclone Gabrielle, which left many people stranded and in need of hot meals, Neela selflessly up to the plate. She selflessly cooked and distributed over 700 delicious Thai meals a day, offering them for free to families affected by the disaster. Her generosity extended to delivering hundreds of meals daily to hard-hit areas where families were struggling to rebuild their lives. Neela's compassion and kindness has touched hundreds of families, and even months later, she continues her efforts, providing essential support to the local community.
Nina Oberg Humphries is a visionary artist, co-founder, and driving force behind The Tagata Moana Trust, a non-profit organisation committed to uplifting Pacific communities in the South Island through Pacific arts and STEM (Science, technology, engineering, arts, math).
Grounded in her Cook Island and Pākehā heritage, Nina is dedicated to amplifying Pacific arts, culture, and knowledge. Her most recent creation, the Fibre Gallery, is a ground-breaking space in Te Waipounamu, dedicated to the display of community-engaged, digital, and heritage artworks by Te moana nui a Kiwa creatives. Nina's dedication and passion is reshaping tired narratives, offering Pacific communities a platform to shine and growing a legacy of cultural empowerment.
Olivia Mathieson, hailing from Ōtakou Otago, is a beacon of hope for postpartum mothers in the Clutha District. Her personal journey through the postpartum period and the challenges it presented to her as a new mother, led to the creation of Blessed Box at the end of 2020. Blessed Box connects the community to support and nourish postpartum mothers through the gift of food. Olivia's relentless determination secured grants, donations & suitable locations for this important endeavour, resulting in a significant impact within her community. Beyond Blessed Box, her passion for gardening & providing fresh produce has enriched the lives of many. With a background in psychology and a history of community service, Olivia is a respected figure dedicated to positive change.
Pamela-Anne Simon-Baragwanath known to most as the gumboot wearing Nanny Pam, from a grassroots perspective, in a very small Northland place with a very big heart, the township of Moerewa is her "WHY".
Nanny Pam has championed the evolution of Moerewa, with a vision of pouring mana back into a community, by building resilience through positive change and generating this change through gaining identity to whakapapa. Despite its demography and economic deficiencies, Nanny Pam’s compassion for humanity and hope for equal opportunity. To summarise, Nanny Pam sacrifices time not for the recognition of self, but recognition to a financially humble community that deserves mana, value and dignity. Nanny Pam's goal from a local, national and international perspective is to be an example for other communities fostering an ability to "Dare to Dream" oh, what that future could look like....
Parminder Kaur is a dedicated and selfless community leader in Canterbury Waitaha. Since 2010, Parminder has tirelessly served her community in various roles, including Justice of the Peace, White Ribbon Ambassador, Chair of the IndianNZ Association of Christchurch Inc., and Chair of The Women's Helping Hand Trust NZ. Her exceptional leadership and commitment have left an indelible mark on the lives of countless individuals. Parminder's efforts range from organising free weekly classes for well-being and personal development to promoting cultural diversity through major events. Notably, her response to the Covid-19 pandemic showcased her adaptability and dedication to community welfare, earning her recognition from the Prime Minister's Office. Parminder's unwavering dedication, selflessness, and positive impact on her community exemplify the true spirit of community service.
Paul Van Dorp is a visionary environmentalist in Auckland Tāmaki Makaurau who has created an innovative carbon biodiversity solution to fund the planting and maintenance of the native trees. Over the last three years, he has planted 820,000 native trees on the Kaipara Harbour, and initiated the BioBonds project, aimed at addressing carbon emissions through innovative carbon biodiversity solutions. His goal is to restore New Zealand's environment, solve carbon-related issues through transparency, and provide economic opportunities, particularly for those without employment. Paul's commitment goes beyond mere environmental concerns; it's driven by love for Aotearoa and a vision for a cleaner, greener future for his family. He's poured his own resources into this initiative, working with corporate partners and engaging various stakeholders to ensure its success. Paul's character is marked by kindness, generosity, and a tireless work ethic, making him a driving force behind the positive change New Zealand needs.
For over forty years, Professor David O’Donnell has worked in New Zealand theatre as a director, actor and dramaturg. An exceptional educator, David is one of those remarkable and unique teachers who engages, inspires and encourages – sharing his vast knowledge and passion for theatre with unfettered generosity. He has an international reputation for his research and commentary on New Zealand theatre, as well as his scholarship on contemporary plays from Oceania. He has also led the way in drawing critical attention to the unique theatre of Pasifika peoples in Aotearoa. He is also the author and co-author of a number of books, in particular, celebrating Pasifika and Māori Theatre. He’s a true treasure to the New Zealand theatre community, and his contribution is deeply valued.
Professor Andrew Day is a paediatric gastroenterologist making a profound impact on the lives of children across the country living with Inflammatory Bowel Disease. He not only provides crucial medical care, but has also been instrumental in the growth and success of Camp Purple Live, a vital support network for children with IBD. Under his leadership, the camp has flourished, attracting increasing numbers of attendees each year and providing valuable education and support. In addition to his work with Camp Purple Live, Professor Day serves on the Board of Crohn’s and Colitis New Zealand Charitable Trust (CCNZ), further demonstrating his dedication to advancing the understanding and management of IBD. His commitment to improving the lives of these young patients and their families is truly remarkable, and well deserving of recognition.
A much-loved member of the Mayfield community, Reon Blake is widely regarded for his generous service, taking on a variety of roles and supporting a range of community projects. Despite his busy schedule as a full-time Police Officer and commercial pilot, Reon has made an outstanding effort to repurpose farmland into the Anama Bike Track, providing a dedicated space for locals to enjoy. In his role as the President of the Red Poppy Society, he embarked on a years-long project called "The Foothills Fallen." This initiative seeks to bring to life the stories of 110 local heroes who lost their lives in war, resulting in a 450-page book that puts a face to every name and tells their compelling stories.
A much-loved teacher at Tararua College, Richard Daymond goes above and beyond to empower his students, with an approach deeply rooted in Te Ao Māori. With an impressive skill set – from being a fluent speaker of te reo Māori to holding the highest possible qualification in Māori martial arts – Richard is a generous leader, sharing his knowledge and passion with his community and beyond. He is often traveling the country to partake in wānanga, and his dedication to Māori martial arts and Kapa Haka reflect his commitment to preserving traditional practices and passing them on to future generations. In everything he does, he supports young people across the community to embrace their whakapapa with pride, stand tall and be proud of who they are.
Richard Lindsay is a remarkable figure in the Manawatū-Whanganui community, known for his unwavering dedication to volunteer work, with an astounding 616+ hours devoted in the last 12 months alone. His humility and genuine desire to help others is deeply ingrained in his character, driving him to do what's right without seeking accolades or recognition. As the team leader of REST NZRT4, Richard leads from the front: creating an environment where the team can upskill, and share their knowledge and passion for the benefit of the Palmerston North community. His actions exemplify the true essence of a local hero, quietly working behind the scenes to uplift and support those in need.
Sally Walker is an inspiring and dedicated advocate for women, whose remarkable efforts have driven fundamental changes in the health care sector by raising awareness around the impact of severe surgical mesh injuries. Having faced enormous, significant complications from her own surgical mesh implants, Sally has effectively influenced health professionals, government entities, and NGOs to prioritise patient safety and wellbeing. Her courage in sharing her personal journey has helped prevent others from enduring similar experiences. In addition to her advocacy work, Sally voluntarily manages a health and disability support network comprising 92 women who, like her, have faced similar challenges. Sally's relentless determination and the positive impact she has had on patient care have earned her numerous accolades. Notably, in August 2023, it was announced that all mesh surgeries in Aotearoa New Zealand would be halted because of safety concerns. Sally's impactful work continues to leave its mark, resonating with women worldwide who seek her guidance and assistance.
Sharon Carroll is widely regarded around Te Tai Tokerau Northland as a community legend: dedicating her life to supporting others through a wide range of programmes and initiatives. Her extensive volunteering record includes working for organisations like Swimming Northland, Bream Bay Swim Club, Waipu Cycle and Walkway Trust, Waipu Primary School, Bream Bay College, Waipu Lions as treasurer, Chair of the Northland Sports Coalition, intern on the Sport Northland Board and Parafed Northland – delivering inclusive sport, active recreation and play opportunities for Northlanders living with a disability. Recently, she has taken on a new role as Community Liaison Manager for tlc4u2, continuing to transform lives through her passion, kindness and deep empathy for others. If Sharon sees a need, she’ll jump in with a solution: inspiring everyone who works alongside her to be the change they want to see in the world.
Sue Hardwick-Smith has been a driving force in the Taranaki Kiwi Trust, and played a key role in the establishment of the Taranaki Kōhanga Kiwi at Rotokare project in 2010. Under her leadership, the project released its first kiwi on her family's Totara Block in 2020, with a total of 140 kiwi reintroduced to the region since then. For the past four years, Sue has led the Totara Block project, overseeing the wellbeing of the released kiwi, training new volunteers, and organising kiwi surveys. Her patient teaching and extensive knowledge have mentored many new kiwi handlers and strengthened the kiwi conservation community. Her efforts have been instrumental in making kiwi a common sight in Taranaki, and her work is vital to their thriving populations.
Suli Tuitaupe is committed to improving health outcomes for New Zealand’s Pasifika population with infectious enthusiasm, energy and a great sense of fun. An outstanding health promoter and award-winning fitness instructor, Suli became famous for dancing to Island beats during the pandemic with 100,000 people watching his videos on social media. Having earned a Master of Health Sciences degree with an endorsement in Nursing from the University of Canterbury, Suli Tuitaupe is now studying towards a Doctor of Health Sciences (DHSc) degree, researching how to improve health outcomes and achieve health equity for Pacific communities in Aotearoa New Zealand. Through it all, he brings a smile to everyone he encounters, and is a dedicated advocate for Pacific Rainbow+, LGBTQIA+, and MVPFAFF+ (mahu, vakasalewa, palopa, fa’afafine (fa’atama), akava’ine, fakaleiti (leiti), fakafifine) individuals across the Canterbury region.
Sumaria Beaton is a dedicated advocate for healthy homes in Southland Murihiku, and has spent nearly two decades championing the cause through her organisation, Awarua Synergy. With a vision of "warming and eco-powering our deep south," Sumaria and the team at Awarua Synergy have tirelessly worked to improve the well-being of the Southland community by ensuring their homes are warm, dry, and healthy. Sumaria's commitment also extends beyond insulation and heating installations – developing educational programmes and conducting workshops both locally and nationally. Her efforts have been described as "ground-breaking" and impactful.
Syed Khurram Iqbal, a Pakistani professional living in Te Matau-a-Māui Hawke's Bay since 2017, has made a significant impact on his community. He is dedicated to helping migrant and refugee communities, particularly those from Middle Eastern and Shia Muslim backgrounds, integrate into New Zealand life. Through his "Connect the Unconnected Project," he has improved English language skills, provided legal guidance, and assisted with employment. An extraordinary milestone for both Syed and his community occurred in 2021 when he became the first Muslim Justice of the Peace appointed in Hawkes Bay—a remarkable achievement that resonated widely. Syed's leadership is evident through his involvement in various committees and as a coach for Kiwi Kids cricket. He also played a crucial role as an interpreter after the 2019 Christchurch Mosque attacks. Syed's unwavering commitment and contributions have earned him national recognition and local appreciation, fostering a sense of belonging and unity for all those who call New Zealand home.
Tā Haare Williams is a trailblazing Māori broadcaster, celebrated author, and dedicated educator. He led Aotearoa Radio and championed the training of te reo speakers in film and television production. His lifelong commitment to education has been a beacon of empowerment, seeing teaching as a powerful force shaping the future of Aotearoa. His poignant book Words of a Kaumātua shed light on childhood and New Zealand's inequalities, winning the te reo Māori category at the Society of Authors' Heritage Book Awards. Tā Haare's leadership extends to the New Zealand Māori Artists and Writers Association and the Kotahi Rau Pukapuka project, promoting te reo Māori literature.
A true wayfinder, Tā Haare Williams weaves together the threads of education, literature, and culture. "I write, I paint, and I intone the living spirit in the spoken word," illuminating a path toward a brighter, more inclusive future.
Te Aorere Pewhairangi is a remarkable individual known for his impactful ‘Waewae the 35’ campaign. After Cyclone Gabrielle devastated Gisborne Tairāwhiti in February 2023, Te Aorere took action by embarking on a 200km walk along the Ngāti Porou boundary. His campaign, accompanied by a compelling social media strategy, garnered an impressive 9 million views within a week and received national media coverage. However, Te Aorere's efforts went beyond raising awareness and funds; they brought his community together during a challenging time. Many expressed their gratitude for feeling seen and heard when they needed it most, echoing the campaign's catchphrase, "don't forget about us, we're still here."
Tim Hunter, a lifelong resident of Taradale, Hawke's Bay, is an extraordinary individual who became an integral part of the Atawhai retirement village community. For over forty years, Tim volunteered as a handyman from 9am to 5pm every weekday, not only beautifully maintaining the village but also offering friendship and a listening ear to the many people who live there. Tim's intellectual disabilities proved to be a unique gift offering perspective and outlook that brought comfort and joy to Atawhai's retirees, brightening their days with laughter and conversations. Tim continued to volunteer, showing remarkable courage and resilience until his passing in October 2023 of this year. His actions have touched the hearts of many and will leave a lasting legacy that will be cherished for years to come.
Toby Shanley is a dedicated conservationist with a passion for protecting kiwi in Taranaki. He's been an invaluable asset to the Taranaki Kiwi Trust (TKT) for over two years, overseeing the kiwi project on Taranaki Mounga and the Kaitake Ranges. In this challenging terrain, he monitors around 40 kiwi, a task that often requires full-time work on both weekdays and weekends during the busy season. Toby's extensive knowledge and approachability make him a valuable resource for TKT. He coordinates a team of volunteers, tracks kiwi, and provides updates to sponsors. His commitment to kiwi conservation is inspiring, and despite challenges and occasional setbacks, Toby's unwavering dedication shines through.
Tom Tito-Green is a young leader in Aotearoa, using his platform to make a positive impact on his iwi, hapū, and the Taranaki community. In 2022, he held multiple leadership positions in his high school, including Head Boy Student Representative on the Board of Trustees and Student Council Representative. Tom's leadership then extended to a national level when he was selected as Youth MP for Youth Parliament 2022, where he passionately advocated for recognising significant historical moments for Māori, with a focus on Parihaka. Tom's commitment to his community is evident through his involvement in various committees and councils, including the Taranaki Youth Voice committee and the South Taranaki Youth Council. He is also an active member of his marae and believes in creating systemic change within his whānau and community to grow impact on a broader scale. Tom's dedication to equality and inclusivity, particularly in Māori spaces, reflects his belief that no one should face disadvantages based on gender, identity, ethnicity, race, or culture. Throughout his mahi, Tom has been a very keen advocate for youth and especially rangatahi Māori. This is because he believes the youth are the future Kaitiaki of Aotearoa and believe that they should have more of a say in major decisions that will affect our future generations. Although he is young, the need to start recognising youth as leaders of communities is long overdue, this is why he has been nominated for this award.
Over the years, Tony Peters has proven to be an unwavering champion of education that reaches well beyond classroom walls. His dedication to instilling a love for horticulture, the outdoors, survival skills, and personal growth has left an indelible mark on his community, and he possesses a unique ability to connect with young people – many of whom might otherwise be disengaged from the education system. What truly sets Tony apart is his remarkable empathy and kindness. He bakes and delivers cakes to celebrate students' birthdays, provides firewood for families in need, and his mentoring is a beacon of hope for those struggling with trauma and wellbeing issues. Tony empowers his students to believe in themselves, fostering a sense of confidence that extends far beyond their time in his classroom.
Troy Duncan demonstrated everyday heroism during Cyclone Gabrielle by saving lives through daring rescues. While faced with the devastation of his own property, Troy leapt to get others to safety – rescuing neighbours with an inflatable boat. In the aftermath, He took the lead in organizing the Pakowhai community, creating a Facebook page for residents to share information and support each other. He also engaged with council representatives, met with MPs and the Prime Minister, and advocated tirelessly to ensure that decision-makers understood the unique challenges faced by his community. He continues to lead meetings and advocate for improved processes and outcomes in what promises to be a long and complex recovery. Troy’s leadership during this challenging period has provided solace and hope to those deeply affected by the cyclone's aftermath.
For 24 years, Vicki Margaret Wood has had an immeasurable impact as a volunteer with Victim Support Tauranga Moana. Throughout her tenure, Vicki has gone above and beyond to provide exemplary support to thousands of victims, spanning a wide range of incident types. An outstanding communicator, Vicki offers victims vital information with empathy and clarity, guiding them through investigations, the judicial process, potential outcomes, and the challenging terrain of parole hearings and coroner's courts – undertaking voluntary training in her own time to provide the best service possible. Vicki's generosity knows no bounds. Beyond her full-time job, she offers up to 40 hours of her time weekly to Victim Support, while additionally volunteering as a St John Health Shuttle driver. Vicki's dedication is remarkable, making herself available day and night to offer crucial support, and generously sharing her knowledge with new volunteers.
Vicky Chandler, a youth worker in Canterbury Waitaha, has dedicated her time to transforming the lives of countless young people. After years volunteering on CDN kids camps, she officially joined the CDN Trust in 2017 – an organisation dedicated to positively impacting young people. For the past twelve years, Vicky has also been a youth worker at Hornby High, guiding and mentoring students through some of their most challenging times. She also runs the Hornby Youth Hangout, providing a safe space for young people to gather, eat, play, and socialise with positive role models; all free of charge. Vicky's efforts are driven by a profound desire to facilitate positive change in the lives of young people – which does with great empathy, compassion and a good sense of fun.
Wendy Paton is the National Operations Support Manager for Taskforce Kiwi (TFK), supporting volunteers across the country to provide crucial aid to communities impacted by disaster. Collectively, TFK have completed 6,888 hours of volunteer work over the last year – primarily in Aotearoa but also internationally. However, none of that would have been possible without Wendy: working incalculable hours behind the scenes to ensure safe and effective disaster relief deployments. Whatever the task, Wendy will go above and beyond, often working late into the night for the benefit of others. Her impact is immeasurable, and her contribution is deeply valued by the people and communities she serves.
Wilf Holt is known for dedicating 30 years of his life to serving the community as a Social Worker at the Auckland City Mission. His unwavering commitment to helping some of the city's most vulnerable residents has transformed lives, and Wilf is regarded as a father figure by many who have experienced homelessness. His remarkable ability to navigate and mediate challenging or volatile situations with charm, humour, and wisdom has made him a beloved figure in the community. Additionally, Wilf played a pivotal role in the establishment of the Hobson Street Theatre Company, collaborating with arts professionals and individuals who use the Mission's services. This endeavour has resulted in award-winning original theatre productions, and even in retirement, Wilf continues to contribute to their current performance, which addresses poverty and the welfare system's impact on the lives of those in need.
Under the leadership of Willie Apiata, a group of former New Zealand Defence Force colleagues raised over n $200,000 for a Tai Rāwhiti iwi impacted by Cyclone Gabrielle. The fundraising efforts involved personnel from the Royal New Zealand Navy and the New Zealand Army, coming together to support the rebuild and aid the people of Ngāti Porou. A live and silent auction held in Auckland featured valuable items, including Apiata's Victoria Cross medallion, a signed copy of Queen Elizabeth's II funeral program by Victoria Cross recipients, and a special air service book and brooch. Apiata expressed his desire to give back to the community that raised him, emphasising the need to support the East Coast and its people as they work towards sustainable recovery.
Zane is the founder of For All The Brothers, an organisation established to change the way we think and talk about men’s mental health. As well as a growing social media presence, the group holds a weekly meetings to provide a safe place for men to get together and talk. In addition to his ongoing advocacy, Zane tirelessly works behind the scenes to expand For All The Brothers, ensuring it reaches and assists men from every corner of the globe. He is determined to be the catalyst for change and to eradicate the stigma surrounding seeking help. His mahi not only inspires others, but has saved lives – growing an engaged community of men and woman who are committed to speaking up.