Local Heroes honoured for services to the community
Everyday people doing exceptional things were the toast of the town last night as East Coast honoured its very own “Local Heroes”.
As part of the 2017 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards, the 18 winners of the Local Heroes category were presented with their awards last night at a special medal presentation ceremony held at Bushmere Arms in Gisborne.
Gisborne District Council Mayor Meng Foon was on hand to present the medals. He congratulated the recipients on their award and said that it was vital that the community continued to acknowledge the contributions they have made.
“Many of these medal winners are unsung heroes whose selflessness has had a profound effect on the lives of so many in the community. Those acts of charity, optimism and commitment are the glue that hold a community together and as a community we must stand alongside one another and give thanks for their efforts,” he said.
The recipients of the Kiwibank Local Hero Awards for East Coast were:
The Kiwibank Local Hero Awards are now New Zealand’s premier community award and give thanks to those providing a positive contribution to their region, town, suburb or community. Nearly 350 medals will be presented nationwide over the next few weeks.
Kiwibank CEO, Paul Brock, said that Kiwibank was proud to be supporting local communities celebrate their outstanding citizens over the past eight years.
“New Zealand has a long standing tradition of community service. It’s therefore equally important that we have a tradition, like the Local Heroes awards, where we can give our thanks to those who have improved the lives of others in their communities.”
The 2017 New Zealander of the Year Awards are presented in six award categories. The overall winner for each category will be announced at the New Zealander of the Year Awards Gala Awards in February 2017.
In December, the judging panel - comprising representatives of all the awards patrons, presenters, sponsors, community leaders and independent experts - will announce the 10 semi-finalists for the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year and supporting categories.
The categories are:
• The Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year
• The Metlifecare Senior New Zealander of the Year
• The University of Auckland Young New Zealander of the Year
• The Mitre 10 New Zealand Community of the Year
• The Sanitarium New Zealand Innovator of the Year
• The Kiwibank New Zealand Local Hero of the Year
Media contact: Nicky Barton, 0273 060603
For images and further details on the recipients:
Glyn Taylor, New Zealander of the Year Awards, 021 671799, email@example.com
Back row (L to R): Mary Bayley, Frederick Smith, Rex Stewart. Pura Tangira, Evan Parkin, Christine Parkin, Gavin MacLean, Catherine MacDonald, Bryce Simpson, Arish Naresh
Front row (L to R): Anne Swan, Maureen Potroz, Norma Hooks, Karangawai Kururangi, Prue Roberts, Alison Ross, William Aston, Walton Walker
Absent: Tina Ngata
Previous East Coast medal recipient Timothy Marshall is ineligible for a second medal but will be considered for the National Kiwibank New Zealand Local Hero of the Year Award which will be announced at the Gala on 22nd February, 2017.
East Coast Local Heroes:
Gavin Maclean (Gisborne)
Gavin has been a long standing contributor to his local Gisborne community.
As conductor of the Gisborne Choral Society for 35 years, he has directed local operas, trained and encouraged young singers and supported other musical groups.
Gavin’s community connections also include being a member or convener of various environmental groups and the electoral candidate for the East Cape Electorate for the Green Party.
His commitments have included conductor of Gisborne Choral Society and chair, director, musical director for Musical Theatre Gisborne. He has also been an instigator of many musical events, particularly opera, in the Gisborne region.
Gavin received a QSM for community service in 1999 for his contributions.
Tina Ngata (Gisborne) – presented in Palmerston North
Tina, also known to the community as the “non-plastic Maori”, is making a stand against the use of plastics. In 2014 she declared she would no longer buy plastic products and as an environmentalist and indigenous rights advocate, she has set about ridding New Zealand of plastic bags.
Her focus is not only for people but also for other living creatures on land and in the sea who are victims of plastic pollution. She is changing the way New Zealanders think about and use plastic bags.
Alongside her environmental work, Tina has been an ardent campaigner for indigenous rights. This included addressing the UN Permanent Forum for Indigenous Issues in New York earlier this year.
She is also known for her artistic talents and her research into Maori women’s health.
Maureen Potroz (Gisborne)
Maureen has been a servant to the Gisborne community for more than thirty years and continues to contribute to arts in the region.
Her musical theatre group called Centre Stage was founded in 1987 and Maureen has given countless hours to those involved.
For three decades, Maureen has written, directed and produced countless plays and helped develop the talents of budding musicians and actors, while providing an opportunity for those whose careers might of passed to continue their involvement in musical theatre.
She has also been involved in the Theatre Group, Operatic Society and is also a committed member of the Gisborne Lions Club.
Norma Hooks (Gisborne)
A Plunket volunteer for more than 25 years, child safety is at the heart of everything Norma does.
She is a Plunket ‘child restraint technician’ and dedicates her time to promoting car seat safety at Kohanga Reo and day care centres.
Her passion and commitment has seen her organising car seat checkpoints with the police, ensuring that families are keeping their children as safe on the roads as possible.
Norma has had a positive influence on the lives of many families and young children in the Gisborne region. Norma was also a Gisborne Civic Award winner in 2015.
Christine and Evan Parkin (Gisborne)
Both Christine and Evan have been loyally committed to serving their community for many years.
They have served on committees including Plunket, local schools and sports clubs. They continue to go the extra mile as parent carers and cooks on school camps and are the first to jump at the chance to help with fundraisers such as sausage sizzles.
Christine has been a volunteer for the SPCA both on the committee and at The Haven at Matawhere. She is a volunteer in the SPCA Op Shop and has also supported the Cup Cake Day Fundraising.
As a member of the Elgin Quilters Group, Christine has helped to make hundreds of baby quilts as well as knitting for premature babies in the neo-natal ward of Gisborne Hospital. She is a valued member of the Turanganui Women’s Institute and a willing helper in the catering group.
Evan has been a local referee and coach for Elgin School and junior football and was on the regional football committee. A member of the Park Golf Club and a committee member, Evan organises the Club stableford and the handicap competitions.
Evan helps to maintain the premises and grounds of the SPCA Op shop, being a very handy man with tools as well as a lawnmower.
Anne Swan (Gisborne)
Since arriving in Gisborne in 1970, Anne has been and still is a volunteer in the community.
A keen craftswomen, Anne’s hands have always been busy including making teddy bears for police to give to traumatized children.
Anne has been involved in palliative care, sitting with patients, and day care, making cups of tea and giving her time to listen.
When the hospital called for people to be on their information desk Anne volunteered and while sitting there, toys were made for the children coming in and out of the emergency department.
In the 1980s, Anne became head steward in the children’s section at the local A&P Show. She finally retired last year, in her 40th year as a steward.
Arish Naresh (Gisborne)
Arish is a committed volunteer who dedicates many hours to the Gisborne community every week. His commitments include involvements with Tauawhi Tairawhiti Men’s Centre, Youth Leadership, Tairawhiti Multicultural Council, Rotary and UNICEF NZ.
He has twice been awarded the merit award by the New Zealand Federation of Multicultural Councils for his role as youth chairperson and also for founding and leading the Tairawhiti Multicultural Council.
He is an inspirational ethnic leader and a hero to many on the East Coast and New Zealand.
Prue Roberts (Gisborne)
Prue has been giving time to the Eastwoodhill Arboretum for more than 30 years. The arboretum encompasses more than 131 hectares planted in exotic and native trees, shrubs and climber plantings and there are not many which Prue hasn’t had something to do with in her time there.
Alongside her role with the Arboretum, Prue is a board member of the Friends of Eastwoodhill Association and has been since 2008. In this role she helps raise public awareness and knowledge of native and exotic flora, as well as helping to raise funds for maintenance and development of property.
A popular visitors location in spring, summer and autumn, Prue has almost a year round role helping out at the gardens.
Karangawai Kururangi (Gisborne)
For four decades Karangawai has given back to her community. Her commitments have included her local marae, church, Youth Club, Senior Citizens, Social Services, Safer Communities and the Maori Women’s Welfare League.
Her dedication to the people of Gisborne is clear and Karangawai is considered a local hero across the region.
Pura Tangira (Gisborne)
Pura has been teaching kapa haka, Māori language tutorials and cultural traditions in schools throughout Gisborne. He now has more than 1400 students from toddlers through to primary and intermediate aged school children under his tuition.
Pura has a gift for instilling a love and respect of our Māori language and culture into the hearts and minds of his students. He uses this to encourage his students to embrace education as well.
He says "the objective of our work is teaching students throughout Gisborne of all ethnicities, teaching them history of our region, teaching kapa haka and our Māori cultural traditions of Aotearoa”.
Pura is an advocate for keeping the Maori language and culture alive and present in the lives of Gisborne’s youth.
Mary Bayley (Gisborne)
Mary has been a keen contributor to life in the East Coast from her role as a district nurse in the Matawai through to being president of the Poverty Bay Federation of Women’s Institute.
Since retiring from nursing, Mary has got stuck in to life on the coast helping make meals for Alzheimer’s patients at the Sherwood Club, raising funds on Daffodil Day, raising funds for Health Camps and supporting the Relay for Life.
She has been found behind the BBQ cooking sausages at the opening of the Oneroa Walkway and with the help of her husband has been on the committee helping with maintenance of the Okoto district hall.
Today, Mary is Secretary of the Poverty Bay Wairoa Federation of the Women’s Institute and President of the Otoko Women’s Institute.
Catherine MacDonald (Gisborne)
Catherine has been both choir mistress and musical director of St Andrew’s Church Choir for 25 years.
Alongside this role, Catherine has been organising monthly Wednesday lunchtime Concerts for Gisborne residents to enjoy. Earlier this year the lunchtime concerts celebrated their 6th anniversary and 50th concert.
Catherine has sung any many shows over her musical career and is regarded as a real talent among the locals.
Frederick Smith (Gisborne)
Frederick believes that a community can die without the efforts of volunteers and he lives by this involving himself in community projects across the Gisborne region.
Frederick has spent many years contributing to Poverty Bay rugby. He has also served as chairman, driver organiser and a fundraiser for Community Patrol New Zealand Gisborne.
He was a Gisborne Civic Award recipient in 2015 for his efforts.
Alison Ross (Gisborne)
For more than thirty years Alison has been serving the local Gisborne community through her many volunteer positions.
These positions include helping at the Eastwoodhill Arboretum, Citizens Advice Bureau, Hospice, Blind Foundation, Toastmasters and Dog Trials.
Her skills span a wide range of volunteer positions and she continues to give back to the community. Alison was a 2015 Gisborne Civic Award recipient.
Bryce Simpson (Te Karaka)
Bryce might be young but that has not stopped him getting involved in all aspects of life on the East Coast.
Bryce has involved himself in the Te Karaka Volunteer Fire Brigade. Having already completed his recruitment course, Bryce knew the ropes and was able to step straight into the fire fighters role on his 16th birthday.
He mans the fire service stand at the local A&P Show and has also volunteered at careers days to encourage others to become involved in the fire service, in both a volunteer and professional capacity.
Bryce volunteers his time managing the Gisborne Speedway website and Facebook page, which includes keeping all data and information up to date.
Bryce helps out at the local dancing and music competition and also helps with the lighting and sound when there are productions on for school and Centre Stage.
Rex Stewart (Mangapapa)
Rex is a stalwart of the Mangapapa area and a legend on the East Coast.
Rex has served as chairman of the School Committee at Mantuke School which included a role as chair of the 100 Year Centennial Celebrations.
Over the years he has served on many sports club committees and while technically ‘retired’ he still finds committees to get involved in. He has served as president of the Caravan Club for the past seven years and is the delegate for the Caravan Camping NZ Club (Eastern Region).
Rex has walked the 24 hour Relay for Life to raise funds for cancer and now helps marking campsites, clearing rubbish and providing day and night security.
On Daffodil Day, Rex and his wife can been found walking the streets selling daffodils for the annual appeal.
Walton Walker (Tairawhiti)
Walton has made a profound impact on the Tairawhiti community through his work within numerous sporting, cultural and historical contexts.
Walton has an extensive involvement in sport, starting with softball which spans an impressive 50 years as a player, coach and administrator (serving as secretary and treasurer) and for the past 10 years as president of the Tairawhiti Softball Association.
Walton has also volunteered his services, knowledge and expertise to waka ama for more than a decade and is president of local club, Horouta Waka Hoe. He is a junior badminton coach and a committee member of the Gisborne Boys High 1st XV Reunion Committee.
Walton is a trustee and chairman of the Nga Tama Toa Trust, he is the chairman of the Reporua Marae and a trustee of the Ohinewaiapu Marae, chairman of the Papawhariki Trust and an active member of the Gisborne Rotary Club.
William Aston (Tairawhiti)
William (or ‘Uncle Bill’ to the community of Tairawhiti) is nearing 80 years old and has supported and cared for his community and its people for most of those years.
Through his work and voluntary life he has encouraged and supported young people to further their education, get their lives back on track and guided them through their difficult years. He has worked with gangs, youth and people with little hope, to get them into jobs.
His passion for dealing with the harm of problem gambling led him to be part of the first Kaumatua led Problem Gambling Organisation in Tairawhiti, Te Ara Tika.
Although well into his 70s he continues to mentor many young people struggling with their life journey. This led him into the beginning of Rangatahi Court, piloted in Gisborne, as an alternate to the district court.
Uncle Bill has helped so many quietly and without fuss, changing many lives along the way.