Local Heroes honoured in the Hawke's Bay community

26 Nov 2016

Hawke's Bay Local Hero Awards Ceremony
Hawke's Bay Local Hero Awards Ceremony

26 November 2016

Local Heroes honoured for services to the community

Everyday people doing exceptional things were the toast of the town last night as Hawke’s Bay 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 the Art Deco Masonic Hotel.

Central Hawke’s Bay Mayor Alex Walker was on hand to present the medals. She 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,” she said.

The recipients of the Kiwibank Local Hero Awards for Hawke’s Bay were:

Shirley Duthie

Ken Keys

Pauline Tangiora

Deborah Grace

Eric Murray

Hyung Ho Jeon

Kiri Gilbert

Glenis McDonald

James Laver

Levi Armstrong

Phillipa Wright

Caren Rangi

Karen Trewick

Jessica Bennett

Karen Valu

Debra Melling

Russell Leech*

Pat Magill

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 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, info@nzawards.org.nz

Photo caption:

Back row (L to R): Caren Rangi, Ken Keys, James Laver, Kiri Gilbert, Levi Armstrong, Paul Brock (Kiwibank CEO)

Middle row (L to R): Debra Melling, Karen Valu, Deborah Grace, Phillipa Wright.

Front row (L to R): Napier City Mayor Bill Dalton, Pat Magill, Shirley Duthie, Karen Trewick, Pauline Tangiora, Jessica Bennett, Haena Seol and Jamie Kelly receiving on behalf of Hyung Ho Jeon and Central Hawke's Bay District Mayor Alex Walker.

Absent: Eric Murray, Russell Leech and Glenis McDonald

Editors notes:

*Russell Leech was unable to attend the Hawke’s Bay ceremony and will be receiving his medal in Wellington on December 5th.

Hawke’s Bay’s Local Heroes

Eric Murray (Napier)

Eric is an Olympic champion who won Gold in the coxless pair at the London Olympics in 2012 and again at the Rio Olympics in 2016.

Eric and teammate Hamish Bond won the Team of the Year award at the Halberg Awards in 2007 (as part of the coxless four), 2009 and 2012, and in 2012 won the Supreme award after their superb performance in London. The New Zealand Olympic Committee also awarded them the Lonsdale Cup in 2012.

Eric was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2013 New Year honours. In 2013, he also took part in the Fight for Life charity boxing evening.

Russell Leech (Napier)* (Receiving his medal in Wellington on December 5th)

Russell joined the YMCA because he wanted to be able to give back to the community and to help young people.

He has now served time as a national board member (since 2006) and held the position of president in 2010 and again in 2011.

He was the national treasurer from 2011 to 2015 and has been a member of the YMCA of Mid and South Canterbury board since 1998.

In 2015 Russell was awarded YMCA New Zealand life membership for his services to the national movement over many years. Over the years he has contributed many hours of voluntary service to communities across New Zealand.

Karen Trewick (Napier)

Karen is the community educator for Parkinson’s New Zealand Hawke’s Bay. She is a supporter, advisor and advocate for those suffering from Parkinson’s disease in the Hawke’s Bay Region.

Karen’s support extends to her patient’s families and educating the wider community, regularly committing time outside of her regular working hours.

Karen is encouraging and helps guide those families living with Parkinson’s sufferers to decisions that suit all parties involved.

She has been a mediator where necessary and a confidant to those in need of a friend, helping so many people along the way.

Jessica Bennett (Napier)

Jessica was named 2016 Volunteer of the Year for the Hawke’s Bay Surf Life Saving Area. At a regional level, Jess was the event manager for the Hawke’s Bay Surf Life Saving championships and water safety coordinator for the Tremain's Triathlon.

Jess is on the local sport committee and the local lifeguard committee, and carries out patrol audits and examines proficiency of new lifeguards.

At a club level Jess is an active lifeguard, she is on the Ocean Beach Kiwi committee, drafts sponsorship deals, assists with competition budgets, prepares marketing strategies, and purchases the club's gear as required. She was team manager at the National Surf Lifesaving championships, and facilitated the club's lifeguard award programme.

She competes for the club and assists with the club's senior coach development which has produced great results in the past season.

Jess has been involved in Surf Life Saving for 23 years and gives tirelessly to the cause at both club and regional level.

Pat Magill (Napier)

Pat is New Zealand YMCA’s oldest surviving National Life Member.

Having just turned 90, Pat has a lifetime of stories and achievements to his name which are largely for the benefit of the community around him.

In 2012 he was named a finalist for Senior New Zealander of the Year and almost 40 years ago was awarded an OBE for an already established commitment to community service.

This commitment has continued and seen Pat involved in all aspects of community from the Lions Club to local rugby and a long standing commitment to the YMCA.

He has led or been involved in organising Unity Week celebrations, Unity Walk, Pilot City Awards, Robson Lecture, Treaty of Waitangi workshops, community seminars, court support for those in need and children's holiday programmes.

Caren Rangi (Napier)

Caren is passionate about adding value to both Pacific communities and the local Hawke’s Bay community.

Of Cook Island Maori descent, Caren is an experienced governance practitioner who has applies her professional experience, community and cultural skills to a range of governance roles.

She is currently a board member for the Broadcasting Commission (NZ on Air), the Arts Council of New Zealand, the Eastern & Central Community Trust, the Charities Registration Board and Pacific Homecare Services. During 2015, she was appointed as a director of the Cook Islands Investment Corporation in Rarotonga, a position which allows her to contribute to the development of Cook Islands professionals.

She was also appointed National President of P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A. Inc, a forty-year old organisation established to provide opportunities for Pacific Island women to contribute effectively to the cultural, social, economic and political development of New Zealand and its people.

Deborah Grace (Hastings)

Deborah is the chair of the Partnership Advisory Group (P.A.G.), a group of volunteers who have a passion for working towards improving mental health in the area. Working with the Hawke’s Bay District Hospital Board, P.A.G. are having a positive influence on those suffering from mental health issues.

Deborah does up to 30 hours a week voluntary work for the mentally ill. She is a knowledgeable and active mental health advocate who continues to represent the patient voice at the DHB level. She is active within patient services at Nga Rau Rauku (the intensive mental health unit).

Deborah also recently organised a public art drive to help heal and inspire patients and staff in the Nga Rau Rauku unit.

Ken Keys (Hastings)

Teacher, actor, director and visionary, Ken has devoted his life to the dramatic arts. He has tirelessly invested himself in his community, sharing his love and knowledge of drama and the arts with generations of students.

Ken’s legacy is in several enduring arts organisations that will continue on into the future due to their strong foundation, vision and philosophy.

Ken is actively involved with the National Youth Drama School and HABYT theatre training company as a board member and tutor.

He has taught high school drama for 18 years, founded three youth oriented dramatic groups and inspired several generations of New Zealanders to pursue their dreams in the arts.

Kiri Gilbert (Wairoa)

Through elevating a sense of belonging and pride in Wairoa, Kiri has been on a mission to lift the image of the town.

This mission is being completed though his work with Wairoa Planeteers, Wairoa HI5 Goes Live, ‘Hikoi for Moko’, ‘Clean Green Wairoa’, E Tu Wairoa Whanau (a call against family violence), Wairoa’s ‘SAY NO to Amalgamation’ and the Meet the Candidates LiveStream.

Kiri is an inspiration to his community. He is a natural leader, who works tirelessly to improve conditions in Wairoa and ensures that all people in the town are provided with opportunities to better themselves and their family.

Kiri is involved as a volunteer trainer with local fitness group Wairoa Patu, giving up at least two evenings a week to help others to get fit and healthy.

A self-taught musician, Kiri also shot to local, regional and national stardom with his band ‘K-Line’ of which he composed music and lyrics that have become common place over the local radio station.

James Laver (Otane)

James is the Hawke’s Bay Surf Life Saving region’s 2016 Lifeguard of the Year.

James is a reliable lifeguard and patrol captain who has patrolled in excess of 70 volunteer hours in the past season. As patrol captain, he is constantly working to improve the skills of other lifeguards.

James uses practical life experiences to analyse problems when instructing his patrol. James is an age group coach for Junior Surf (under 13 years of age) and most Sundays in season he is found at the beach coaching.

In addition to the usual lifeguard duties, James is director of property at Waimarama Surf Life Saving Club, has led the project for a new patrol tower, managing the planning and development and working through details with architects, engineers and the local council. He has also managed the fundraising for this project.

James’ contribution to Surf Life Saving in Hawke’s Bay has had a positive influence on the lives of many other surf life savers and swimmers at local beaches.

Shirley Duthie (Otane)

Shirley has dedicated 46 years of voluntary community service to the Central Hawke’s Bay District. She has worked tirelessly to ensure support services are available and remain free to those that need them most.

Shirley and her late husband founded The Pleroma Trust, a registered charitable trust based in Otane that aims to inspire people and create thriving families and communities.

She was general manager of the trust for 35 years and also served as secretary. Over the years she has worked closely to ensure the trust establishes strong relationships with other support organisations in the region.

Shirley and the Pleroma Trust have gained a reputation for making a real difference in people’s lives and for providing services to the most vulnerable in a completely private and confidential setting.

Shirley was founding board member of the Hawke’s Bay Community College (now EIT) and she is a long standing active member of the Holy Trinity Parish.

Pauline Tangiora (Mahia)

Pauline is active in community groups including Maori women's welfare league and lifeline telephone support.

Pauline is a Maori elder from the Rongomaiwahine Tribe, Earth Charter Commissioner, former president and current vice president of Women’s International League for Peace Freedom Aotearoa, former representative for the World Council for Indigenous Peoples, life member of the Maori Women's Welfare League and was a committee member of Rigoberta Menchu Tum Nobel Laureate Indigenous Initiative for Peace.

Pauline has been a key contributor at both a local and international level on human rights, spiritual leadership, peace and conflict resolution and indigenous issues.

She has had a positive influence on the lives of many locals in the Hawke’s Bay region and continues to give back to the community wherever she can.

Philippa Wright (Waipukurau)

Philippa is the managing director and CEO of Wright Wool, an independent wool broker based in Waikpukurau.

Additional to this role, Philippa has served as the chair of Campaign for Wool New Zealand, a global initiative that aims to highlight wool as a fibre that is eco-friendly, comfortable, fashionable and durable.

In 2015, Philippa was instrumental in the Wool for Schools programme, which teaches year 7 and 8 students to understand wool’s place in their lives and how it can be part of our future.

Philippa has donated countless hours to this cause completely free of charge. She remains heavily involved and has recently returned from attending a World Campaign for Wool meeting in Scotland.

Philippa’s contribution to agriculture has helped to keep New Zealand on the global map as a quality wool producer.

Karen Valu (Havelock North)

A local vet, Karen uses her time off to raise money for animal shelters and rescue efforts.

Karen runs a Facebook page where she arranges competitions and gathers prizes for animal based businesses. So far she has raised $15,000 in contributions.

A creative fundraiser, Karen has even been enlisting the help of her dog Bow to paint pictures to be auctioned or sold to raise funds for SPCAs around New Zealand.

Karen's help and support go a long way to helping people learn to live better lives with animals and allowing families to own rescue pets.

Karen also supports de-sexing drives, which has a huge impact in the community through lowering costs for councils and SPCAS.

Glenis McDonald (Dannevirke)

Glenis has been serving the local community for more than 32 years. She has served the Presbyterian Church, The Women’s Fellowship, has been a volunteer driver for St. John’s health shuttle and has also acted as a youth leader for the St. John’s cadets.

Glenis is chairman of the Carnegie Community Centre and a volunteer for the Cancer Society.

In 1993, Glenis was the founding member of the local Grey Power Association and served as president for seven years, secretary for 12 years and was convenor of New Zealand first subcommittee in the Wairarapa electorate.

Glenis also volunteers for The Fantasy Cave, Hospital Emergency Department and as a volunteer DJ at the local radio station.

Hyung Ho Jeon (Havelock North)

Hyung Ho Jeon is a tae kwon do legend in the Hawke’s Bay community. As an instructor he has helped many children and adults train over his career.

His personal achievements in tae kwon do has seen him earn titles including 6 level black belt Tae Kwon Do, 7 level Hapkido and 8 level Taw Kwon Mudo.

He goes above and beyond to help train children who cannot afford to pay for lessons and has made a positive contribution to those striving for success in tae kwon do.

Debra Melling (Tamatea)

For over 20 years Debra has been a fantastic teacher aide for students and teachers at Tamatea Intermediate.

Often the first person through the school gates, Debra devotes her time to the school going above and beyond the expectations of her role.

Debra has spent two decades contributing to the lives of students and ensuring they have every opportunity to reach their potential. She is a local hero to both the teachers and students she supports.

Levi Armstrong (Camberley)

Levi is the founder, director and leader of Patu Aotearoa which is a new initiative to engage with whanau and get people active in New Zealand.

He designed the Patu gym and exercise programme himself and is committed to changing lives through the programme which is delivered by Maori, for Maori, using Te Ao Maori concepts.

Levi started Patu Gym to make a positive change through health and fitness and refers to Patu as an alternative brotherhood for youth who are looking for the support of a family.

Levi is a local hero to his community and is inspiring Māori and Pacifica people to lead healthier lives in Hawke’s Bay.

Nicky Barton

PR Consultant


04 499 6940

0273 060 603

Lv. 12 City Chambers

142 Featherston Street


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