14 Jan 2021

Community of the Year
Community of the Year

The Mitre 10 Community of the Year Award - Ngā Pou Whirinaki o te Tau recognises a rōpū – group of people that together have made an outstanding difference to their community this year. They foster a strong sense of Kotahitanga – community spirit and their achievements enhance the social, economic, cultural or environmental prosperity of their rohe – region making it stronger and more vibrant.

Meet the 10 semi-finalists.

Baby Loss NZ


13 years ago, Sarah Numan took the unbearable pain of losing four babies and turned it into a service – Baby Loss NZ – that supports parents and families who have experienced the death of a baby during pregnancy, at birth or in childhood, as well as parents facing a difficult decision following a poor prognosis. Sarah and Josie – who came on board 11 years ago – provide emotional support, practical guidance, and then guide the family through a memory-making service that creates hand and foot castings of the baby/child, hand and footprints, photos, bathing and dressing baby. The memory-making experience assists in the grieving process brings families together and enables the baby to be remembered and included in family life. Each family also receives a care box with a range of memory items, and Sarah spends part of her time each week sourcing grants, raising awareness and organising fundraising events so that the care boxes and memory-making service are all provided free of charge. Baby Loss New Zealand also runs a range of events to support its community: volunteer/coffee mornings, practical workshops and training and education for health professionals. Sarah and Josie meet around 200 babies/children and their whānau each year.

Christchurch Mosque Victims Group


The Christchurch mosque shootings on 15 March 2019 were the deadliest in modern New Zealand history, and described by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern as “one of New Zealand’s darkest days.” However, despite the unprecedented violence of the attack, and the anti-Muslim rhetoric that surrounded it, the victims have been praised around Aotearoa and the world for their overwhelming strength, grace and humanity in the aftermath. Many of the victims were religious and community leaders who led public prayer in the days and weeks following the attacks, and publicly forgave the killer. During the killer’s trial and sentencing in August 2020, many victims spoke eloquently as they relived the trauma of the day, presenting their victim impact statements to the court and to the terrorist himself with courage, dignity and searing honesty, modelling a range of healthy responses to a psychologically challenging situation. All New Zealanders have been grateful for the victims’ calm denunciation of xenophobia as well as their steadfast commitment to a peaceful existence, and hope only that the sentencing and release of the Royal Commission’s Enquiry in December 2020 can provide some closure on this dark chapter in New Zealand’s history.

I Have a Dream Charitable Trust


I Have a Dream is an organisation designed to produce positive outcomes for the children involved, their whānau and the communities they live in by offering the services of a consistent caring adult (a Navigator) for up to 15 years of their schooling life (within our Dream Partner Schools). The I Have a Dream Navigators provide mentoring, tutoring, life coaching and support for Dreamers. The purpose of the organisation is to instil values of higher education, career aspirations and life success in the children they serve, ensuring every child has the resources, opportunities and networks they need to succeed. Ultimately, the mission is to support young people to become future leaders.

Since 2003, I Have a Dream has focussed on helping Kiwi kids to transform their lives, futures and communities. The programme currently works in the Tikipunga and Otangarei communities of Whangārei and the intention is to be present for at least another 10 years, working holistically and in partnership with whānau, schools and the community. A core long-term goal is to affect positive generational change and outcomes for any community they are involved in.

As a Learning Organisation, I Have a Dream also provide an ongoing rich source of knowledge and experience informing and guiding the aspiration to expand I Have a Dream into new communities in Northland and nationally. They help to ensure that each child (a Dreamer) graduates with the academic and life skills to successfully transition to a career or further study. This will ensure that they become positive role-models who add value to their communities, increasing economic and social outcomes for our country.



When New Zealand went into Level 4 lockdown in March 2020, thousands of businesses were faced with completely new challenges, like how to negotiate with landlords, keep clients engaged, continue to pay staff or start selling online.

In response, design and innovation start-up Indigo created Manaaki: an online community of New Zealand and international business experts who volunteered their time to answer questions and provide advice, to help those small business owners weather those challenges. The community is united under the uniquely Māori concept of manaaki: an offering of care, respect, and support, that strengthens the mana of one another.

Since its launch, the Manaaki community has grown to over 200 experts in 25 categories, who have helped more than 90,000 small business owners overcome potentially devastating challenges, and had an immeasurable impact on their whānau, communities, and our country’s economy.

Manaaki has created unprecedented access for small business owners to world-class business experts and promotes the power of Māori culture as a dynamic and enabling factor in New Zealand business.

The Queenstown Lakes District Covid-19 Welfare


The Queenstown Lakes District Covid-19 Welfare Response Team is a multi-sector group of individuals that acted quickly and efficiently to support those in need due to COVID 19. When borders closed and the lucrative tourism industry shuttered, thousands of Queenstown Lakes District residents, many migrants, were out of work, unable to pay for groceries and rent, and ineligible for government support. Vulnerable community members were unable to shop safely, anxiety rose and well – being suffered; the community responded. The Welfare Response Team established itself quickly and managed a staggering level of assistance: in three months, 7,377 people submitted 23,342 requests for welfare support, from a total population of 39,153. To manage this, QLDC staff pivoted from business as usual, and social service agencies, volunteers, neighbourhood groups, churches and local iwi provided practical support in the form of food parcels, firewood, clothing and bedding, plus mental health support. A Civil Defence-funded supermarket voucher scheme enabled thousands to access food directly, volunteers phoned every welfare applicant, making up to 500 calls a day, and experts managed the volunteers and established protocols to ensure safety for all. In a region threatened by floods, earthquakes, and now a pandemic, this remarkable community effort has shown how agile, collaborative and resilient the Queenstown Lakes District can be.

Seasons for Growth


Seasons for Growth is a peer support programme for children and young people experiencing severe grief or loss caused by the separation of parents, death, migration, serious illness or imprisonment of a parent or a period of foster care. The programme is the only intervention of its type, which works with small groups of children and young people. Support is provided in small, age-appropriate groups of young people who work alongside two volunteer adult companions who have undergone a rigorous training programme. The programme runs for nine weekly sessions and guides young people along a structured journey to develop coping strategies for emotions and thoughts that can feel overwhelming for children and youth. In Taranaki alone in the last year, Seasons for Growth has positively impacted the lives of over 250 children, and the demand for the programme continues to grow. In order to extend its reach, the organisation has introduced a Stormbirds programme that helps school communities work together to enhance resilience in youth who have experienced natural disasters and significant events such as bush fires, earthquakes, and now, pandemics. There is also a programme for adults and some sessions to assist parents with supporting their children who are experiencing loss and grief.

Student Volunteer Army


Student Volunteer Army started following the Christchurch earthquakes and has grown into a national charity that helps ākonga value takoha and engages in volunteering at each stage of their education. 32,000 primary aged students organise projects in their communities each year thanks to the support of Citycare Group, 200 secondary schools participate in the SVA Service Award, the national framework for student volunteering and several tertiary institutions in New Zealand and Australia are utilising the SVA model to change the way their students are engaged in their communities. During the Covid-19 lockdown, Founder and Chief Executive Sam Johnson again scaled the SVA by partnering with the University of Canterbury SVA Club, kiwi tech entrepreneurs and New World supermarkets to recruit and screen 3000 volunteers, build an end to end grocery shopping and payment service and delivered groceries for over 2000 people. Other recent projects have included supporting widows of the Christchurch Muslim community with their gardens following the terror attack and operating a tech friends programme for older people. The SVA believes people of all ages, backgrounds and abilities have something valuable to contribute to their community and strives to make volunteering easier.

SuperGrans Western Bay of Plenty Charitable


SuperGrans Western Bay of Plenty was formed with a vision of residents of all ages sharing wisdom, knowledge and life skills. The founding members saw a wealth of knowledge within the community and wanted to ensure that people of different generations had the framework in place to live, grow and learn together. SuperGrans was established in Katikati in 2017 and now runs a range of services for the local community; all programmes are hands-on, practical and free to access. One of the group’s primary missions is transferring practical skills, and each year SuperGrans runs workshops in home management, cooking, meal planning, preserving, preparing for employment, sewing and mending, household budgeting, growing food, parenting, dealing with government and social agencies. They also run a range of community-building events like coffee groups, parent meet-ups and crop swaps. More recently they have been responding to a growing community need in one-on-one mentoring for new Mums, people with disabilities, isolated or homebound and those with no family support. All of this is achieved through their growing network of amazing local volunteers who willingly donate their time to share their skills and knowledge with the community.

Te Puea Memorial Marae Indigenous Homeless Service Delivery Model


In 2016, Te Puea Memorial Marae in South Auckland’s Mangere opened its doors to homeless whānau across Tāmaki Makaurau. Since then, the marae’s Manaaki Tāngata e Rua (MTeR) transitional housing programme has offered whanau immediate support taking them out of the motels and or off the streets in the short term, through the delivery of a unique indigenous Māori homeless service delivery model that successfully blends critical elements of the law and lore. To date 501 Maori, Pacific, Ethnic and Pakeha people have been carefully moved into permanent state and or private homes, and recently the first whānau has moved through the programme from homelessness to homeownership, setting a new benchmark and aspirational goal for whanau and MTeR. MTeR aims to restore the whanau ora mana motuhake of all homeless whānau who come on to the marae. The MTeR model has been the subject of much government and NGO research to better understand why MTeR is so successful at supporting whānau Māori who are homeless using the tikanga of the Marae and the teachings and whakapapa of Princess Te Puea Herangi. The MTeR co-location service delivery model has since been moved to other significant Maori service providers across Auckland which is being supported by a unique engagement training and development program for MSD staff. MTeR has released two formal research publications, a Te Reo Maori digital learning resource, a photo exhibition and song and was recently a 2020 finalist for the Crown Maori Partnerships Awards. The journey has been humbling and far-reaching for the 11 whanau who do the mahi, but what was most significant were the words of United Nations Special Rapporteur Lelani Farha in her 2020 report on Homelessness ‘….for housing first to be successful in the Maori context requires that the model be developed and administered by Maori as is for the example being undertaken at Te Puea Memorial Marae…’


Trees That Count


Trees That Count is on a mission to see millions more native trees planted in Aotearoa, to fight climate change, strengthen our threatened biodiversity and grow healthier communities. The programme was launched in 2016 by the Project Crimson Trust as a way to unite Kiwis against climate change through the simple act of planting a native tree. Since then, more than 32 million trees have been added to the national count. Trees That Count’s main focus now is in increasing generosity for native tree planting projects. Their market place enables individuals or businesses to fund or gift native trees which are then matched to deserving planting groups around the country: from iwi and community groups restoring local reserves and schools establishing native gardens through to farmers who are improving waterways and the health of their land by planting more trees. More than $4.5 million dollars has been raised to plant over 620,000 native trees, supporting 729 planting projects around Aotearoa – and this number grows by the day. Trees That Count also runs national awareness campaigns and funds on-the-ground ecological experts in each region who promote the unique value of our native flora

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