Local Heroes honoured in Rotorua/Taupo community

19 Nov 2016

Rotorua Local Hero Ceremony
Rotorua Local Hero Ceremony

19 November 2016

Local Heroes honoured for services to the community

Everyday people doing exceptional things were the toast of the town last night as Rotorua honoured its very own “Local Heroes”.

As part of the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards 2017, the 12 winners of the Local Heroes category were presented with their awards last night at a special medal presentation ceremony held at Princess Gate Hotel in Rotorua.

Rotorua Lakes Council Deputy Mayor Dave Donaldson 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 Rotorua and Taupo were:

Noel Hyde

Garry Adlam

Jill Walker

Deep Rajput Thakur

Ann Clausen

Judge Craig Coxhead

Val Hoogerbrugge

Tyson Taikato

Megan Wheeler

Claire Baylis

Debbie Hamilton

Anita Westley

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

Editors notes:

Rotorua’s Local Heroes

Noel Hyde (Rotorua)

With 40 years’ experience, Noel is one of New Zealand’s most talented and well respected wildlife taxidermists. He is also one of New Zealand’s first research museum preperators having completed more than 3000 specimens.

Noel was chairman of Wingspan National Bird of Prey Centre from 2008-2014 and he remains involved as a trustee.

He is a recognised expert in feather identification and has completed research and education taxidermy projects for Te Papa and other museums around the country. His expertise has also been sought after by the Department of Conservation and Kelly Tarlton’s.

Noel is also a published author and co-author of academic research papers and has represented Wingspan and New Zealand internationally in raptor research and falconry.

Very much a specialist in his field, Noel has made his name on a global scale and his commitment to wildlife here in New Zealand makes him a local hero to many in the Rotorua region.

Ann Clausen (Rotorua)

Ann has dedicated her life to volunteering and has been involved in a number of organisations for many years.

After her husband Peter died of leukaemia in 1998, Ann and friend Marie Steiner set up a support group for leukaemia patients and their caregivers. The absence of support for herself only motivated Ann to help others and she is still involved with the group today, providing patient support and helping with fundraising.

Ann spent seven years working with Victim Support, four years on the Relay for Life committee and is still involved with the Cancer Society, Make-A-Wish New Zealand, Operation Xmas Child (for Fiji) and with the Rotorua Baptist Church Meet ‘n Eat group.

The Operation Xmas Child project involves collecting gifts for children in Fiji and then personally delivering them.

On top of this, Ann has been involved in helping to grant 53 special wishes of children with lifethreatening medical conditions through Make-A-Wish and is a valued volunteer in Rotorua’s chemotherapy unit and for the Cancer Society’s Daffodil Day.

Judge Craig Coxhead (Rotorua)

Judge Coxhead has been working hard to help settle disputes over the Treaty of Waitangi, Maori land issues and general civil litigation.

He was appointed to the Māori Land Court bench in 2008, is a judge in Rotorua and presiding officer for the Te Paparahi o Te Raki inquiry.

He is a former president of Te Hunga Roia Māori o Aotearoa – the New Zealand Māori Law Society and is a consultant editor to the Māori Law Review.

Judge Coxhead has also spent time as a senior lecturer at the University Of Waikato School Of Law lecturing in both graduate and post graduate courses.

Judge Coxhead has represented the views of the local Maori population fairly and ensured a rightful outcome for all New Zealanders.

Jill Walker (Rotorua)

Since the 1980s, Jill has been contributing to creating positive futures for the children of Rotorua. After attending a number of events where children were not really catered for, Jill decided she wanted to make a difference in her local community.

An accomplished artist and performer herself, Jill has been the driving force behind a number of initiatives in the region. This has included art in schools projects as well as poppy-making workshops for ANZAC Day commemorations in Rotorua.

Her involvement in Children’s Day celebrations spans more than 20 years and she has also been working with youth in high schools introducing theatre and art projects.

Jill has encouraged many young people to pursue their interest in the arts and has provided engaging activities for Rotorua youth, keeping them out of mischief.

Megan Wheeler and Claire Baylis (Rotorua)

Megan and Claire have both contributed hugely to swimming in the Rotorua region. Megan is manager of the Rotorua Lakes Swim School and Claire is manager of the Swim Rotorua Swimming Club. The two ladies had noticed a gap in the Rotorua community in accessibility of swimming lessons for many kids.

Claire and Megan have developed and implemented a comprehensive new programme, the Making a Difference Water Safety Project, targeting young people in schools. This was done on a voluntary basis by Claire, and largely outside normal working hours for Megan.

In just a year, Making a Difference has already worked with over 1500 children and teachers from more than 20 schools. Megan and Claire have made a genuine difference in the community over the past year and will continue to make a positive difference in the years to come.

Garry Adlam (Rotorua)

Garry is the man behind the highly successful Rotary Charity Market which runs every Saturday in Kuirau Park.

Owned and operated by the Rotary Club of Rotorua North, the market raises funds for the club’s charitable work and has been operating since 1988. Garry became involved in 1997 and now oversees the market’s operation.

While still running a drain laying business, Garry dedicates many hours to the market, liaising with Rotorua Lakes Council and dealing with stallholders and any inquiries or issues that arise. He is passionate about the project and always looking for ways to make it better, the funds raised through Garry’s commitment have benefitted many community projects during his involvement.

Anita Westley (Taupo)

For over a decade, Anita has been involved in the local community through her work with the Family & Financial Solutions Trust.

The trust works with families to help them learn financial management skills to enable them to become financially independent.

Anita is committed to ensuring every client is cared for and looked after equally and without discrimination. She goes above and beyond the scope of her work often volunteering 35 hours unpaid work every week to ensure the needs of her clients are met.

Anita’s compassion, understanding and mentoring has allowed people in the community to become financially stable.

She calls on the support of other agencies where the opportunity arises and her guidance has helped hundreds of people in Taupo to achieve financial independence.

Tyson Taikato (Taupo)

Tyson, aged just 24 years old, is continuing to give back to his local community. He is a Ratana Minister, kapa haka tutor, te kohanga reo volunteer and a leadership figure for youth in the district. His focus is on the development of Maori tamariki and rangatahi in the community, and empowering them to become responsible for their own development.

Through is role as Rangatahi in the Ratana church, Tyson encourages active and healthy lifestyles through sport to children and youth.

He loves working with kids and is passionate about helping them wherever he can, a big part of this he said, was building relationships with their whanau.

Tyson was recognised earlier in the year for his contribution at the 2016 Youth Awards with the cultural change maker award.

Val Hoogerbrugge (Taupo)

At 77 years of age, Val has been involved in community work for 61 years and despite her age, chronic medical conditions and the loss of her husband, she just keeps on giving.

Her community involvements have included the Council of Social Services, Taupo Age Concern and the Central Plateau REAP. Val established and served as coordinator of a local ESOL Centre, helping hundreds of families build language skills and settle into being part of the local community. From this grew Taupo’s regular multi-cultural festival of which Val initiated and coordinated in its early days.

Awarded a QSM in 2006, Val has worked tirelessly for the benefit of Taupo and the Central Plateau.

Debbie Hamilton (Taupo)

Debbie is the face behind Taupo Food for Families, a charity helping those in need in the Taupo community.

At age 29 and as a busy mum to four children, Debbie continues to give her time to help others. For Taupo Food for Families, Debbie helps to arrange food, clothing and household items for families in need through a Facebook page.

Debbie also volunteers at Taupo Pregnancy Help, making sure that expectant mothers and their family can provide baby clothes, bedding and any other necessities.

When Debbie isn’t doing community work she is a teacher aide at Mount View Primary School, ensuring children get the best start to life through education. Her selflessness makes her a hero to many in the Taupo community.

Deep Rajput Thakur (Ngongotaha)

Chef Deep Thakur is on a mission to change the way young people think about food. His aim is to get local youth eating healthily while learning valuable life skills.

As part of Rotorua Youth Centre’s Intergenerational Project, Deep is taking cooking classes with the aim of linking youth and adults in the community together to share their skills.

Deep wants to see young people taking charge of their health and lives. He hopes to do this through cooking and teaching children about health and agriculture, as well as developing social skills at both the stove and the table. He hopes that through his cooking classes he can strengthen the sense of whanau and community in the region.

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