Local Heroes honoured for services to the Manawatu community

25 Nov 2016

Palmerston North Local Hero Medal Ceremony
Palmerston North Local Hero Medal Ceremony

25 November 2016

Local Heroes honoured for services to the community

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

As part of the 2017 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards, the 13 winners of the Local Heroes category were presented with their awards last night at a special medal presentation ceremony held at Caccia Birch House in Palmerston North.

Palmerston North City Councillor Rachel Bowen 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 Manawatu were:

Cheryl Palliser

John Palliser

Merenia Donne

Kelly Scarrow

Tina Ngata

Robert Martin

Carla Donson

Isabelle Maloret

Mark Jackson

Keith Smith

Norma McCarthy

Charles Quirk

Brian Noel Green

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. 352 medals will be presented nationwide over November and December.

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

Previous medal recipient Angie Rogerson 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.

Editors notes:

Manawatu’s Local Heroes

Keith Smith (Palmerston North)

Keith has revolutionised the building industry in New Zealand by introducing an electronic building consenting system that makes it easier for councils, builders and the community to apply for building consents.

The system, called Alpha One Building Consenting System has helped councils around New Zealand in issuing consents.

Keith’s initiative has saved council money and also reduces waiting time for consumers.

In recognition of Keith’s development, and the positive impact it is having on local communities, Keith's software was awarded the best in New Zealand by the New Zealand Society of Local Government Managers.

Cheryl and John Palliser (Levin)

Long-time residents in the Horowhenua-Kapiti area, Cheryl and John have been heavily involved in dancing throughout the lower North Island.

An involvement spanning three decades, their involvement has included a great deal of personal time, dedication and financial commitment. Despite severe health issues in recent years, this passion for dancing and teaching dance has continued.

Their contribution to the Horowhenua and Te Horo communities has ranged from involvement in the Young Farmers Club, Young Mothers Club, farm advisory and mentoring roles, active involvement within schools and as volunteer drivers for the Horowhenua Community Health shuttle.

Described as tireless, encouraging, fun and friendly; their significant voluntary contributions in such a varied range of roles reflects Cheryl and John’s commitment to a community they have lived in throughout their lives.

Mark Jackson (Dannevirke)

Based in Dannevirke, Mark is the St John Ambulance station team leader and a paramedic.

Mark has been an active campaigner for reducing methamphetamine use in all areas of the community, with the safety of the pubic remaining his main priority.

He is always willing to help others and continues to put others before himself.

Over his career, Mark has saved many lives through his work with St Johns and continues to contribute across all levels of his Dannevirke community.

Isabelle Maloret (Raumati Beach)

Issi’s leadership ability, commitment, and concern for people and animals has made her a mainstay within an organisation called HUHA (Helping You Help Animals).

A passionate and committed advocate for the welfare of animals, Issi undertakes numerous roles as a trustee on HUHA’s board; hands on as a duty manager at the Otaki shelter; running HUHA’s second-hand shop in Otaki, writing submissions and on top of all this fundraising for the animals HUHA look out for.

As a campaign manager, Issi uses her initiative and creativity to engage people in the organisation and ensure funds are raised to effectively run the organisation and support animals in need.

Merenia Donne (Whanganui)

Merenia has worked tirelessly in the field of Disability Assistance Dogs. She founded the Kotuku Foundation Assistance Animals Aotearoa (KFAAA) who specialise in training Medical Support Dogs for those with life-threatening medical conditions.

Merenia founded the charity in 2006 after she was involved in a horrific car accident and her German shepherd, Nikita, dragged her from the vehicle to safety.

While the accident had left Merenia with challenging disabilities, it also motivated her to help others. The organisation has now trained and provided a large amount of Disability Assistance Dogs to assist in the lives of those with debilitating illness and conditions.

Merenia has established relationships between KFAAA and a variety of other organisations, as disparate as Greyhounds As Pets, the New Zealand Police Dog Training Centre, The University of Auckland, Otago University, Massey University, Diabetes New Zealand and the RSA in order to further the cause of making KFAAA assistance dogs accessible and affordable for all those who could benefit from one.

Carla Donson (Whanganui)

Carla is the current driving force behind the Women’s Network in Whanganui. This non-government funded organisation has, for over 30 years, provided support services to women of all ages who are vulnerable, disadvantaged or distressed.

Carla is the only paid employee and has been with the Women’s Network for 13 years. While she has an incredible team of volunteers, as the sole paid employee it can be challenging to manage increased demand on the time allocated for the administrative aspects of running the organisation.

This also adds the challenge of devoting the necessary time to directly supporting and working with clients. But Carla takes all of this in her stride and continues to make an invaluable difference in the lives of women in the Whanganui district.

One of Carla’s major projects is the ‘La Fiesta’, a unique celebration of women and community which has been running for seven years.

Carla was a finalist in the 2016 Women of Influence awards.

Kelly Scarrow (Whanganui)

A Mum to six, Kelly started the Gonville Knitting Group about six years ago. The charity has produced garments, slippers, scarves and blankets for the needy in the Whanganui community.

Groups that have benefitted from Kelly and her group’s work include lower decile schools in the area who have received slippers and scarves through Kids Can, Plunket who have received over 180 blankets for lower socio-economic families, Birthright who have received 1116 garments, Women's Network and Women's Refuge who have received more than 400 garments this year.

Kelly has partnered with Upokongaro School to teach the kids there to knit, and has also linked up with the Cancer Society to knit hundreds of daffodils to raise funds on Daffodil Day and knitted poppies for the centenary of ANZAC Day.

Norma McCarthy (Whanganui)

At 90 years old, Norma remains a long standing volunteer at the Association of Blind Citizens Whanganui.

Every week, twice a week, Norma picks up three women (all younger than she is) and takes them to the Association to teach them arts and crafts.

Norma’s commitment to the association spans 45 years and she has never missed a day or let anyone down. Over her lifetime, Norma has made a positive difference to the lives of many in the Whanganui region.

Robert Martin (Whanganui)

Robert recently made history at the United Nations as the first person with a learning disability to be elected to the United Nations Committee on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

His work started when he returned to live in Whanganui over 40 years ago and established People First, an advocacy group fighting for the rights and inclusion of all people with learning disabilities.

His life’s work has been as an advocate for people with a disability, sharing his message in over 30 countries, and now being recognised as an international leader and role model for people with a learning disability.

Described as humble, unassuming, approachable and caring, Robert is seen to have a rare gift of creating and translating simple messages into something that results in global strategic change.

Charles Quirk (Whanganui)

With close to 50 years’ service to the New Zealand Cadet Forces, squadron leader Charles has made a positive contribution to the lives on many young New Zealanders.

His services to youth via the Air Training Corps in Whanganui has seen him involved in all areas of the local community. From planning clean ups at local war graves to volunteering at events across the region.

Additional to his role with the Air Training Corps, Charles is a senior advisor with the Ministry of Education working with students, families and schools in the Manawatu, Whanganui and South Taranaki.

Brian Noel Green (Hunterville)

Born and bred in Hunterville, Brian (or Porky as he is known to the community) always has something on the go in the region.

Porky is a life member of the Hunterville Rugby Club. His involvement began as a young boy when he helped his father to prepare the grounds and build the grand stand. Since then, Porky has played, refereed, coached and even been president of the club. At almost 70 years old, he still takes his ride on lawn mower to the grounds, from his house, to mow the field and mark out the lines.

Every year, Porky pitches in as Santa Claus for the local school, fire brigade and Bull’s Group. He is actively involved in the Hunterville Shepherd’s Shemozzle as a marshal, he MC’s the local Christmas Parade and marches every year in the town’s dawn parade.

Hunterville, a rural village that could easily have become a ‘ghost town’ still stands proudly in Rangitikei, a huge amount of this is down to their own local hero – Porky Green.

Tina Ngata (Gisborne)

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.

Nicky Barton

PR Consultant


04 499 6940

0273 060 603

Lv. 12 City Chambers

142 Featherston Street


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