Local Heroes honoured for services to the Taranaki community

24 Nov 2016

New Plymouth Local Hero Awards Ceremony
New Plymouth Local Hero Awards Ceremony

24 November 2016

Local Heroes honoured for services to the community

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

As part of the 2017 Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards, the 20 winners of the Local Heroes category were presented with their awards last night at a special medal presentation ceremony held at the Devon Hotel in New Plymouth.

New Plymouth District Council Deputy Mayor Craig McFarlane 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 Taranaki were:

Elaine Gill

Alistar Jordan

Carolyn Murphy

Nigel Austin

Frances Hume

Anand Rose

Linda Wilkinson

Gary Brown

Hohepa Te Moana

Joanne Brimelow

Michael Fenton

Dr. Christine Fenton

Mathew Hickey

Graeme Northcott

Marise Northcott

Lyal French-Wright

Sam Galloway

Andrew Judd

Adelle McBeth

David Bentley

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, info@nzawards.org.nz

Photo caption:

Back row (L to R): Tracey Berry (Kiwibank), Graeme Northcott, Alistar Jordan, Linda Wilkinson, Anand Rose, Sam Galloway, Hohepa Te Moana, Mathew Hickey, Gary Brown, Elaine Gill, Adelle McBeth, Sarah Bentley (receiving the award on behalf of her husband David) New Plymouth Deputy Mayor Craig MacFarlane

Front row (L to R): Lyal French-Wright, Michael Fenton, Nigel Austin, Christine Fenton, Joanne Brimelow, Carolyn Murphy, Andrew Judd, Frances Hume

Editors notes:

Taranaki’s Local Heroes

Nigel Austin (Inglewood)

Nigel has been a member of the Inglewood United Rugby Football Club for more than 60 years. He has been involved in coaching as well as serving on the committee, organising working bees and fundraising events.

He is an active member of the Inglewood community, supporting projects such as the Kaimata School & Districts 125th Jubilee, the eradication of pests for the Department of Conservation and he has been heavily involved in the Inglewood Community Garden Project which supports needy families.

Nigel has served on the Inglewood Committee Cricket Club for more than 20 years and is still president today he takes part in various activities such as groundsman and handyman, a competition committee member for Taranaki Cricket Association and serving on the committee for club 100th and 120th Jubilee celebrations.

Nigel is also a member of the Taranaki Land Search and Rescue group which works alongside the police to provide search and rescue services to the people of Taranaki and visitors to the region.

Sam Galloway (Kaponga)

Sam is the supervisor at START (Supporting Todays at Risk Teenagers) Taranaki and has been involved with the programme for the past three years.

START, a 20 week programme for high risk young men in the Youth Justice System has benefitted greatly from Sam’s enthusiasm and exciting new initiatives.

Managing a staff of 12 youth workers, Sam plays a crucial role in further developing and tailoring the programme to suit each individual’s needs. He coordinates and runs regular training sessions with his staff, ensuring his team are up to date with the latest youth work information and approaches. Recently, he secured funding for a new recording studio for START, noting the benefits of using rap as a therapeutic tool.

Sam goes well beyond his day job and will regularly lend a helping hand as a support person for boys who have graduated from the programme.

In his downtime, Sam has mentored local youth (who aren’t on the START programme) in rapping and studio recording. He also helped establish a half basketball court on the START grounds and will run a 3 on 3 tournament for the local South Taranaki youth over the summer.

On top of this, Sam and his family have taken in up to three former START boys to live in their home at various times over the past two years. These boys have not had a safe place to live and they have offered them a room, food, love and support like they are one of the family.

Mathew Hickey (Moturoa)

In the past 12 months alone, Mathew has volunteered well over 400 hours to Coastguard Taranaki and the Coastguard Rescue Vessel crew.

Mathew willingly and cheerfully devotes his time to all unit activities, particularly those related to his unit safety officer and Coastguard Rescue Vessel (CRV) crew roles. He is often the first to respond to pager calls and to then turn out to the CRV.

He readily goes “the extra mile” in carrying out his duties and in helping and encouraging others, particularly the younger or more inexperienced CRV crew members.

Mathew has also been instrumental in procuring, at no cost from the Taranaki Rescue Helicopter Trust, a high-powered searchlight for use on board the Unit’s CRV. He was also able to acquire rescue equipment suitable for CRV use from the Taranaki Community Emergency Response Team.

Adelle McBeth (New Plymouth)

Adelle is an inspirational young woman, who whilst facing some health challenges, is still focussed on making a positive difference to others.

While waiting in intensive care for a kidney transplant, Adelle requested that instead of sending flowers her way, that her friends and family helped her in raising funds for someone else in need.

Using a Givealittle page, people were able to raise funds for a hearing device for someone desperately awaiting the life changing equipment. This selflessness in a time of personal distress shows just what a hero Adelle really is.

Aside from her battle with illness, Adelle has worked as secretary of Taranaki Basketball. She has worked tirelessly to see the survival and resurgence of the premiere regional team. Her efforts for the sport in the region have not gone unnoticed and can be seen on the courts today.

Andrew Judd (New Plymouth)

Determined to halt the growing divide between people in the district, Andrew has been a staunch advocate for combatting race issues in New Zealand.

During his time as Mayor, Andrew was not afraid of controversy and encouraged Maori representation within the council, even in the face of animosity.

Andrew initiated a 45 kilometre community walk through the district to Parihaka in hopes of continuing the reconciliation process. This march has been symbolic for the whole of New Zealand and is the spirit of what it means to have a deep love for the nation and its people.

His leadership and desire for change has made race relations a matter for the public agenda once again and he continues to stand for unity and Maori representation not just in Taranaki, but for all of New Zealand.

In his time as Mayor, Andrew was an advocate for many community projects and was known to move in and make things happen where required, for the betterment of the wider Taranaki community.

Lyal French-Wright (New Plymouth)

Lyal has been serving his local New Plymouth Community since the 1990s .Through his involvements with New Plymouth Boys’ High School, and other organisations with a focus on youth, education and sport, he has had a positive impact on the lives of many in the Taranaki region.

As chairman of New Plymouth Old Boys’ Rugby Club, Lyal takes an active role in all elements of the club. From success on the rugby field, to character development and support of young players coming through, Lyal is a stalwart of the Taranaki rugby scene.

Lyal has influenced the lives of thousands of young people in the Taranaki region over the years. He is a ‘community hero’ in the eyes of many.

Elaine Gill (Frankleigh Park)

Elaine has served the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust (TAFT) in a volunteer capacity for 25 years as a trustee, including 15 years as chairperson.

Under her leadership, she has molded the trust from an organisation that only presented a regional arts festival once every two years, into a vibrant professional organisation that is nationally recognised as New Zealand’s premier provincial event organiser.

Additional to her work with the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust, during the last 40 years Elaine has also voluntarily served for a wide range of community organisations such as Taranaki Community Health Trust, Volunteering New Plymouth Trust, Dress for Success New Plymouth Trust, Taranaki Computer Access Trust and the Taranaki Employment & Support Foundation.

Alistar Jordan (Egmont Village)

Alistar has been involved with the New Plymouth Old Boys Cricket club for over 50 years as a player, coach and committee member.

He has been a leading light in the development and survival of the club with his tireless hours in fundraising for the construction and upkeep of clubrooms, playing and practice facilities for the benefit of members and the wider community.

Alistar has been a huge promoter of cricket for the area, and has had a huge impact in promoting sports and developing many other sports facilities for the community. These have included the Indoor Training Centre, and the Pukekura Park net facility and grounds which allow New Plymouth to host high-level sports fixtures in the area.

Carolyn Murphy (Marfell)

Carolyn has been involved in the New Plymouth Operatic Society for over 40 years. During this time she has actively been involved in 45 shows – volunteering in all tasks from on-stage, props, choreography and directing.

Carolyn is involved in Step-up Taranaki and with St. Joseph’s Primary and St. Pius Primary schools, where she has been responsible for teaching choreography and dance for school productions.

Carolyn has also contributed to numerous community organisations to the benefit of New Plymouth including Francis Douglas Memorial College, the New Plymouth Competitions Society and the New Zealand Musical Theatre Consortium for Phantom of the Opera.

Frances Hume (Waitara)

Frances has been an active volunteer in the New Plymouth area for more than 45 years.

During this time, she has volunteered countless hours to the Red Cross, Meals on Wheels, the Foundation for the Blind and the Anglican Church. She has helped in op shops, local hospitals and with the local branch of the RSA where she helped for years with the annual Poppy Day appeal.

Frances helps these organisations in any way she can from fundraising, collecting, baking, transport and teaching to assisting needy families with life skills and shopping.

Linda Wilkinson (Bell Block)

Linda is a passionate advocate for the local arts community as a board member and past chairperson of the Taranaki Arts Community Trust.

She also gives back through her role as vice president of Alzheimer’s Taranaki and acts as an honorary solicitor for a number of local charitable organisations.

Linda is also involved as provider of the building to Real Tart (the Taranaki community art gallery), and is a trustee (and honorary solicitor) of YMCA Taranaki. Her focus on giving back to community organisations sees her involved in many projects Taranaki-wide. She is never hesitant to get stuck in and make things happen.

Gary Brown (Lynmouth)

Gary has been serving the New Plymouth Community since 1978. This has included high level involvements with Rotary as president and assistant district governor for the region.

Gary is chairman of Atawhai Industries Inc, a charitable trust who assist people with intellectual disabilities to get them involved in meaningful activities and find them opportunities in paid employment.

He works with the Taranaki Chamber of Commerce, the North Taranaki Men’s Shed, served as member of the board of Tourism Taranaki and Venture Taranaki and has been a justice of the peace since 1986. He is a successful architect in his own right and who strongly believes in working for the community.

Anand Rose (Moturoa)

Anand is a true mover and shaker on the Taranaki music scene fostering collaborations that cross all boundaries of age, ethnicity and genre.

Anand is a promoter, musician, MC, radio host, event organiser, sound engineer, graphic designer, social media expert, journalist, film maker, marketer and true music fan. His projects are inclusive, community driven and inventive and through Singer-Songwriters New Plymouth, Anand has brought a whole new community of musicians to Taranaki.

In the past five years, Singer Songwriters New Plymouth has played an important part in the resurgence of original music in Taranaki where, once a month, they present up to 20 performers to packed houses at the New Plymouth Little Theatre.

Anand’s involvement has put Taranaki back on the map as a centre for musical talent and he brings excitement to all he does in Taranaki.

David Bentley (Waitara)

David has made a great contribution to surf lifesaving through his knowledge, capability, credibility and leadership.

As club captain, David was not only an active patrol member, but he also ensured that club members were upskilled and had the equipment necessary to patrol beaches.

David has been key to the facilitation and coordination of the Taranaki Lifeguard Camp and was instrumental in instructing many members.

David partakes in many regional activities specific to surf lifesaving services such as patrol auditor, probationary examiner, lifeguard camp, instructor and has been part of the Taranaki rescue squad for call-outs, as well as organising event safety and training activities.

Michael Fenton (Tarurutangi)

Michael is a scientist, teacher and lecturer who has served in education for almost three decades.

Michael received a 2015 Prime Minister’s Education Excellence award for his services to designing qualifications and courses in science and mathematics. These qualifications have been taught in hundreds of schools across New Zealand, and positively influenced the learning of tens of thousands of children across the nation.

Michael voluntarily founded and directed New Zealand's only high school-based research laboratory.

He works with teachers and schools on behalf of the Royal Society Teacher Leadership Fellowship programme. He maintains the Nexus Research Group website and continues to serve as a volunteer on the organising committee for the Taranaki Science and Technology Fair.

Michael has influenced hundreds of teachers and thousands of school students through his devotion and commitment to education over almost 30 years.

Dr. Christine Fenton (Tarurutangi)

Christine has shown great dedication to the community through voluntary service and her advocacy for young people.

Over 25 years it is estimated that Christine has volunteered more than 3000 hours of her time.

Since the early 1990s Christine has provided leadership for community-led education groups in Taranaki and surrounding areas. She continuously advocates for opportunities in education, science and the arts.

She has been president of Sunshine Play Centre (Taumarunui), served on the Pohutukawa Kindergarten in Bell Block Committee and Bell Block School Board of Trustees (New Plymouth) and was as an elected councillor at Taranaki Council.

Christine also served as president for the Celtic Jazz competition committee, was a committee member and secretary for the New Plymouth Little Theatre and volunteered with Nexus Research Group, the YMCA, and New Waves New Plymouth.

Hohepa Te Moana (Spotswood)

Hohepa’s ‘The Dirty Dozen’ is a fitness group delivering a 12 week fitness programme to people from all walks of life who want to improve their lifestyles.

Whether this is weight loss, mental health and wellbeing, improving diet, getting fit or making new friends, Hohepa has been at the forefront of promoting a vibrant and healthy community.

He has enlisted the help of many local businesses as well as personal trainers, gyms and received sponsorship for his community wellbeing initiative. These partnerships have been vital in assisting Dirty Dozen participants on their journey to improved health.

New Plymouth is a small town and through Hohepa’s initiative he is having a positive impact on his community and the lives of many.

Joanne Brimelow (Fitzroy)

Joanne, a mum, a lifeguard, a sport official, and junior surf coordinator is responsible for upskilling over 200 children aged 5-13 in lifeguarding.

She volunteers countless hours to train the next generation of Taranaki lifeguards. In doing so, she has helped nurture children to understand personal responsibility in the community.

Joanne was the worthy recipient of Taranaki Surf Lifesaving’s most prestigious award – 2016 Volunteer of the Year.

She is passionate, committed and excited about contributing to the people of Taranaki by making beach swimming safer for everyone.

Graeme and Marise Northcott (Urenui)

Graeme and Marise have been heavily involved with dog trials since the mid-1960s. Their involvement has included organising events, prizes, sponsors, advertising, labour, judges, trophies and stock.

They are a truely community-minded couple who have raised money and volunteered time organising these events. This commitment has also seen them put a focus on maintaining the Okoki Hall to be used for community events and activities.

Graeme and Marise have also been active participants of the Okoki Outdoor Education Centre Trust which works to improve facilities of the old Okoki School. This has allowed many families and school groups to have a safe and affordable place to camp.

Nicky Barton

PR Consultant


04 499 6940

0273 060 603

Lv. 12 City Chambers

142 Featherston Street


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