2023 Award Recipients


The annual Civic and Youth Excellence Awards took place at Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-pō on Tuesday 21 November 2023.  

Presented by Mayor Bernie Wanden, five Civic Honours were awarded, alongside four Certificates of Recognition. In addition, twelve extraordinary young people received Youth Excellence Scholarships.

Three Special Mayoral Awards ‘Eke Tangaroa’ were presented for the first time this year, created to recognise exemplary commitment to a specific project in 2023.

Civic Honours Awards

Civic Honours awards were presented to:

Sharon Freebairn

Sharon is an active contributor to Waitārere Beach and its residents. She has stamped her mark on several community organisations and is a valued member of the community.

Sharon was a member of the Waitārere Beach Progressive Association for eight years and from the onset became actively involved with many community events. She held the roles of Secretary and Chairperson and is described as engaging and a gifted communicator who possesses a desire to both involve others and assist those in need.

During her time with the Progressive, Sharon was involved in community fundraising for community crime prevention cameras, including the famous ‘Long Lunches’ which include entertainment and an opportunity for the community to gather.

An area where Sharon excelled was engaging with Council matters - she was proficient and timely in submitting applications to Council for grants and was always well informed by attending Council meetings, in particular on matters that affected Waitārere Beach.

Sharon would take the lead on compiling submissions to Council consultations including Long Term and Annual Plans where she would use her strategic thinking and writing ability to strengthen the voice of the Progressive and beach community.

Sharon was responsible for initiating the Progressive and Council “Welcome to Summer” initiative held at the Waitārere Beach Domain with the purpose of encouraging use of the community facility and welcoming new residents to the beach village.

Sharon also played a pivotal role in fund raising for the book “Waitārere - Our Past and Our People” which was a challenging project but her tenacity and determination for taking the lead made this a successful community project.

Sharon has continued to support and be proactive within the community by being heavily involved with the Beach Wardens where she is the co-ordinator and an active member, the Community Garden where she is the co-ordinator, mentor and participant, plus she supports beach clean-up days and the Community Book Exchange.

Sharon, you are most deserving of recognition with a Civic Honour, congratulations.

Joanna Mason

Jo has resided in the Horowhenua for over 45 years and during this time she has been actively involved with many organisations and is known as someone who is well respected, diplomatic, honest and who has a fair approach to any issue.

Jo served as a Horowhenua District Councillor for three terms from 2016 – 2022, the final term as Deputy Mayor. During this time, Jo was appointed to many external and internal committees including Horowhenua Neighbourhood Support, Horowhenua Health Workforce Trust and the Disability Leadership Forum. In addition, Jo was the chairperson of the Access & Inclusion Committee from 2019 – 2022.

Jo is a current board member of the Horowhenua Super Grans, now known as Skills 4Living, a position she was appointed to in 2015. Jo listens to others and offers practical solutions always respecting others points of view. She quietly and confidently works to reach a solution and is a valued member of the board. Jo is also currently a board member of the Horowhenua New Zealand Trust.

Many organisations reap the benefits of Jo’s business experience and community knowledge which enables her to offer advice and expertise in so many areas. Jo has empathy and a work ethic that means she always goes the extra mile to achieve a positive outcome.

The extent of Jo’s service to our community does not stop there. She has been a Fairfield School board member and chair, was involved in many sports teams when her three boys were at school, and has been very involved in the Horowhenua Rowing Club over the past 12 years undertaking both treasurer and secretary roles at various times. Many hours of hard work and leadership saw Jo awarded ‘Rowing NZ Volunteer of the Year’ in 2014 – a testament to her commitment and hard work.

Jo, this Civic Honour is in recognition of your commitment and commendable service to our community, over many years.  Thank you and congratulations.

Jan-Maree Hayes

Jan-Maree is a respected member of the Foxton community and has volunteered her time to many organisations, over a long period of time.

Most notably, Jan-Maree has stamped her mark on The Foxton Promotions Group who instigated the Foxton Easter Fair some 30 years ago. Jan-Maree has been a dedicated member of the team for over 25 of the 30 years of Foxton Promotion’s existence.

She has undertaken a wide variety of roles and a significant number of tasks, simultaneously on numerous occasions, along with extra responsibilities to ensure each year is more successful than the previous.

In addition, in recent years Jan-Maree’s input has been at leadership level.

The Foxton Promotions Group has two aims – the first is to promote Foxton as a tourist and visitor destination with the very first fair organised to lure into town a large group of caravan club members who were staying in Foxton for the Easter Weekend – 30 years on, the fair has grown to having over 200 stalls, music and family entertainment.

The second aim of Foxton Promotions Group is to support local schools and community groups by distributing the profits back into the community.

Jan-Maree and Foxton Promotions meets a minimum of once a month in the "off season" with a significant increase in the workload for the six months leading up to Easter. Although the group has always been small in number, they have been rich in enthusiasm, none more so than Jan-Maree Hayes.

Although Jan-Maree has spent many hours involved with other organisations such as Foxton Lions and the Athletics Club when that was in existence, none of these are equal to the literally thousands of hours Jan-Maree has spent year upon year ensuring the iconic Foxton Easter Fair continues to be one of the highlights of Foxton’s calendar year.

Jan-Maree, thank you for your dedication over so many years to the Foxton Community, congratulations.

Victoria Kaye-Simmons

Victoria is the quintessential volunteer having served her community in a range of roles and responsibilities for over 20 years.

One of the biggest impacts Victoria has had is as a Horowhenua District Councillor where she served four terms, from 2010 – 2022 and to say she went above and beyond the position description is an understatement.

Victoria has been a valued member of the Levin Budget Service Board since 2013 and is the current Chair. She has had huge involvement with Contact Incorporated, now known as Te Whare Mahana Community Hub – she was appointed to the board in 2013 as a Councillor representative and continues in this role today. She is described as a valuable board member with a deep understanding of the issues facing our community and is highly respected by those who work with her.

Through Te Whare Mahana, Victoria has been the driving force behind the Horowhenua Kai Club, a community initiative that has made fresh fruits and vegetables accessible to families at an affordable cost.

Victoria was appointed to the Horowhenua Family Violence Intervention Services Board in 2014 and is a current board member, and has given her service to Montessori, Betty Montford Kindergarten, TS Tutira Sea Cadet Unit, the Organic River Festival and Lift off Levin Balloon Festival.

As a Councillor, Victoria was appointed to Keep Horowhenua Beautiful in 2013 and appointed as chair in 2014, again a position she holds today where she plays a major role in organising clean-up weeks and other community initiatives. Through KHB and her Councillor role, in 2015 Victoria was appointed as the Zone Three representative to Keep NZ Beautiful, again a position she holds today along with being the current Keep NZ Beautiful Chairperson.

Victoria's contribution to the Muaūpoko Waitangi Day Event commenced in 2011 and she continues to remain involved which has been hugely appreciated by Muaūpoko and our community.

Victoria exemplifies the spirit of community service. Her contributions have left an indelible mark on our district, fostering connections, enhancing community wellbeing, and making a genuine difference in the lives of our residents. Congratulations Victoria.

Matai'a Aleni Feagaiga

Aleni has been a member of Fale Pasifika Horowhenua for past nine years and during this time has made a huge impact on the committee and within the Pacific People’s community. FPH’s aim is to improve health, educational and social outcomes for Pacific People, and to develop a thriving Pacific community. This has been achieved with significant results under the leadership and guidance of Aleni who held the role of chairperson from 2016-2023.

Aleni has had significant involvement in Pasifika Youth Jandal Jam and Pasifika Celebration Day festival which celebrated its 10 year anniversary in 2021.

In 2020, during the initial Covid Lockdown, FPH was granted $10k from MSD to support Pacific families with fruit and vege boxes and meat packs to support struggling households and alleviate financial strain. Aleni took it upon himself to personally pick up, and deliver every one of the support parcels, over a six week period, until the funds were fully utilised. This is a testament to Aleni wanting to do his bit to support our community in a time of need.

In 2020, through the Provincial Growth Fund, an opportunity arose for Council to collaborate with Fale Pasifika Horowhenua to apply to the Pasifika Churches Renovation fund. Aleni offered his assistance and time for this project as his church representative which resulted in a warm and freshly decorated place of worship, with upgraded kitchen, hall and toilet facilities.

Aleni is well known in rugby circles – he is a Life Member of College Old Boys Rugby Football Club and is the current Vice President where his dedication has strengthened the club and left a lasting impression on those fortunate enough to work alongside him. Although Aleni is an employee of Horowhenua Kāpiti Rugby Football Union, he continually goes above and beyond to support the development of young rugby players and create pathways, and has a particular interest in developing Pacific rugby and players, such as the Horowhenua Samoan Team.

Aleni is described as incredibly humble and he often deflects praise. This humility serves to further exemplify his character and the authenticity of his contributions to our community.

Congratulations Aleni, and fa’afetai tele lava for your service to our community.

Certificates of Recognition

Certificates of Recognition were presented to:

Felicity Clarke

Felicity has lived all her life in the Horowhenua and was a well-known resident of Shannon and now Waitārere Beach. Felicity is described as humble, tireless and always putting others needs first, often ahead of her own.

In the earlier days, Felicity was a volunteer with the Shannon Fire Brigade, Shannon Young Wives, Plunket Young Mothers Group, Shannon Saturday morning rugby and Variety Players. She was also a volunteer at Shannon School and an active volunteer for the Plunket Society fundraising through catering, concerts and theatre events.

Felicity is well known for her generosity and kindness and is aware of anyone who is unwell or in need of assistance. Because of this she has become very well known throughout the community.

Felicity is very skilled at weaving together many community groups; her impact and influence on our community is far reaching as are her famous chocolate eclairs and baking which she delivered to groups such as the Shannon Fire Brigade and Shannon School. With that baking went care, kindness and practical advice.

Felicity is described as a positive and exuberant team member of the Levin Anglican Parish and St Aidan’s Waitārere Beach Parish. She is the first person to arrive at church to ensure that everything is ready for the Sunday Service and organises rosters efficiently and with enthusiasm.

Felicity chairs the Pastoral Care Team for the Levin Parish which ensures that Parish and community members are well cared for. In addition, Felicity enjoys visiting rest home residents to provide a friendly visitor and support. She also cooks and bakes for church, and creates flower arrangements for funerals and the church when required.

Felicity is a current member and treasurer of the Waitārere Beach Progressive and Ratepayers Association where she has been an active member for over 10 years, and has provided support for many community events.

Felicity, your community work is extensive and your dedication is impressive, congratulations on being awarded a Certificate of Recognition.

Bill Harvey

Bill has over many years, turned his personal love of three sporting activities into genuine social good for his community of Te Awahou Foxton: these being karate, boxing and rugby.

Bill received his Black Belt in karate in 1978 and started his own Dojo in Te Awahou Foxton. It continues to this very day, some 45 years later. Although his son Matthew is now the main driver, Bill continues to be part of the club both at the personal level and as a trainer. Not bad at the age of 68! Time has erased any possibility of counting the scores of people, particularly youth, in Bill’s community who have grown under his tutelage in physical skills along with mental and psychological discipline.

It is sometimes said that when taught correctly, martial arts can be the most peaceful approach to conflict resolution, bullying and violence and this appears to have underpinned some of Bill’s other community contributions. Some of the young people who are Karate students at present describe Bill as still fearsome as an opponent, but have a great respect for his ability to make them extend themselves and achieve goals that are beyond what they believed possible.

1982 saw Bill obtaining his boxing licence and over eight years he gave hours of his time training many men and women. Subsequently, in 2015 Bill breathed life back into boxing in Te Awahou Foxton, supported by his son Matthew. Bill’s dedication in this code produced many skilled and confident men and women – a number of whom fought in tournaments with great success.

The third arrow in his quiver has been rugby – in 1996 Bill began refereeing for the Horowhenua/Kāpiti area which he continued for over a decade. He also volunteered to referee games on numerous occasions for Manawatū College.

It is about more than physical skills. It is also about psychological resolve and resilience. And it is about building confident and positive members of society. When we combine his contributions through karate, boxing or rugby it is impossible to count the hours Bill has volunteered to his community. The common thread throughout, for over 45 years, has been this: Bill’s infectious love of physical activity has combined with his love of people along with a strong conviction that these codes, done well, develop the whole person.

Derek Prior

Derek is a Te Awahou Foxton resident who has given his heart and soul to a range of organisations, over many years.

The Foxton Little Theatre is a small group of active members who work hard on keeping Community Theatre alive in Foxton. Since Derek joined the committee, he has undertaken nearly every role in the theatre. He is described as a man with many skills who is often the person the group turn to when tasks crop up at short notice.

Derek is totally reliable, if he says he will do something, it is carried out in a timely fashion and always to a high standard; and in addition, he has made improvements to the theatre to enhance the experience of patrons.

Derek has carried out tasks such as doing dishes for hours on end when there has been dinner and show evenings; he has managed front of house doing the myriad of tasks designed to make the theatre’s hospitality legendary; he has helped construct and deconstruct the sets, the gardening and general maintenance – Derek has even been reserve minute secretary and held the position of Vice President. There has also been the occasion where the director has been short a male actor, who do they turn to – Derek.

Derek is an active member of the Manawatū Estuary Trust where he joined the committee and took on the role of minute secretary. He is responsible for maintaining the birdwatching scopes and having them prepared for visiting groups. Derek is a member of a group of committed people who spend their Wednesday mornings doing pest tree removal and weeding of the estuary area which is a RAMSAR site of international significance.

Derek also volunteers for the Levin Riding for the Disabled organisation. Soon after he joined, he became as a volunteer and joined the committee. He was acting president during the time they had to move premises 2022-2023. He is presently a volunteer with the riders every Thursday and also Vice President. Derek looks after policy, Police checks and also fills in wherever there is a gap.

Derek has volunteered for Riding for the Disabled for the past five years and is particularly active in supporting the committee. Derek has been described as being a huge support as Vice President – he has worked on updating the policy and national qualifications required for RDA, and manages the Police check process.

Derek, there are a number of organisations who are lucky to have you – congratulations on being awarded with a Certificate of Recognition.

Tony Robinson

In Foxton, Tony is a rock-solid community man who has given incalculable hours of his time, using his love of sport for the betterment of others. Specifically, his passions have been karate and rugby.

For over thirty years Tony has been a karate enthusiast and has used his knowledge to train many others, growing them through his influence in the physical, mental and social skills that martial arts provides.

Over many years, week after week, Tony has given an extraordinary amount of his time to mentor and train participants of all ages, ranging from five years old through to adults.

Every week, training is held over two nights and often in the weekends gradings are held. Tony has continued over these 30 years to be totally committed with his time to ensure club members and individuals reach their potential and achieve the highest skill level and grading that they are able to. Tony has also assisted the Levin Karate Club over a number of years lending his skills and experience to the assist the club and its members to achieve their very best as well.     

Tony has also over many years given freely of his time to his other sporting passion being Rugby. Tony began coaching the Manawatū College under 15s in the early 2000s before going on to coach the College 1st XV for a number of years. In this time the 1st XV grew into a powerful force earning the respect of the many other teams they played against in the schools competition, and continually performed to a high standard throughout Tony’s coaching tenure.

Tony latterly went on to coach at Senior Club level achieving excellent results with both the Foxton Senior A and Shannon Senior A teams, with the Shannon side making the Horowhenua-Kāpiti Senior Competition final in 2016 under his coaching and leadership.

We also must acknowledge Tony’s late wife Raewyn, who alongside Tony formed a powerful coaching team, as at the same time Raewyn coached the Manawatū College Senior Netball Team, who also always performed to a very high standard through Raewyn’s passion and knowledge for the game.  

Tony also served on the Coley Street School Board for 9 years from 1999 - 2007, the last three years as Chairperson.

There is no doubt that the Foxton and wider Horowhenua community have been huge beneficiaries of Tony’s passion, skill, and personal commitment to both Karate and Rugby.

Tony, we thank you for going above and beyond, over many years, congratulations.

Special Mayoral Awards - Eke Tangaroa

Special Mayoral Award – Eke Tangaroa were presented to:

Christine Belsham

The war in Ukraine is a stark reminder of the fragility of peace and the human cost of conflict. It was in January 2022 that we heard the news of the war and the immediate devastation on families, towns and infrastructure. Communities were displaced and lives shattered.

It was from this devastation that Christine Belsham instigated the Horowhenua based organisation Kiwi Care. The objective of Kiwi Care was to send locally made children’s clothing to war torn Ukraine.

For almost 20 months, Christine worked in a voluntary capacity to raise funds, source local women with creative skills, deliver materials, sort, store and finally package up large volumes of goods. There were times where Christine’s vehicle was full to the roof with the expertly made clothing.

Christine enlisted a strong force of volunteers from diverse backgrounds, who ranged in age from being in their 20s to 90s. Many volunteers commented how the project had given them a wonderful sense of purpose.  Using their hand skills, they quilted, knitted and sewed hundreds of practical children’s clothing, blankets and toys. Christine is an excellent example of a person who can rally a community to help others.

The project culminated with almost a full shipping container departing the Horowhenua for Auckland, and then on to the Ukraine. Christine has been described as having unfailing resolve, hardworking and hugely committed throughout the entire project.

Well done Christine, I am sure the children who received the clothing, blankets and toys were extremely grateful – congratulations on being awarded the Eke Tangaroa Award – you have certainly triumphed in achieving a great victory, in face of a challenging situation.

Kathy Mitchell and Catherine Lewis

In February 2023, the wrath of Cyclone Gabrielle was felt from the Pacific Islands to New Zealand. We were warned that Gabrielle was coming, however we never imagined the destruction it would cause and the lives it would change forever.

Over six days, Gabrielle impacted many parts of the North Island – it was the costliest tropical cyclone on record in the Southern Hemisphere, with total damages estimated to be at least NZ$13.5 billion.

Property damage was extensive, lives were lost, and in addition infrastructure and roads were wiped out, there were huge stock loses, widespread damage to the horticulture and viticulture sectors and the landscape of some farming areas would be altered beyond recognition. We all saw the devastation on the news and thought about what we could do to assist those affected.

In comes Kathy and Catherine who empathised with what farmers and growers were going through and they were motivated to rally our district. Kathy and Catherine gathered a committee to commence work on The Black Out Project. Behind the scenes, graphics, photography and media support was also assembled. They set a lofty target to raise $100,000 and had no doubt that our community would get behind the fundraising venture.

There were several facets to the fundraising – getting businesses on board to donate prizes to the Black Out Auction, selling tickets to the auction night, The Black Out Day where schools and workplaces would wear black to symbolise standing with those affected and a street appeal.

The business donations far exceeded what Kathy and Catherine dreamed, the generosity was quite remarkable. Prizes included a leadership retreat, helicopter rides, a weekend away package, hot laps in a V8, a scenic flight and a professional brand shoot to name a few. The response from schools and businesses to the call to dress in black and donate was also overwhelming. Our community had rallied around the project and were united in reaching the target.

The amount of work that Kathy and Catherine put into the project was nothing short of phenomenal – from organising project team meetings, to getting sponsors on board, planning out the Auction function and promoting the project – they were in there heels and all.

The result was better than expected with over $108,000 raised which was distributed to the Tararua Mayoral Relief Fund and Hawkes Bay Mayoral Relief Fund which covers Central Hawkes Bay through to Gisborne – the donation from the heart of the Horowhenua was gratefully appreciated by the recipient councils.

On behalf of our community, thank you Kathy and Catherine – for rallying our community and for your tireless work on making The Black Out Project an outstanding success.

Horowhenua Youth Excellence Scholarships

Youth Excellence Scholarships were awarded to:

Paloma Janse - Academia

Paloma's academic journey at Ngā Tawa Diocesan School has been marked by unwavering excellence. At NCEA Level 1, she secured excellence endorsement before external examinations, accumulating a remarkable 69 excellence credits.

Her commitment to excellence extended into NCEA Level 2, undertaken in 2022. Across subjects including English, History, Music, Statistics, Biology, Physics, and Chemistry, Paloma consistently achieved excellence marks, amassing a commendable total of 84 excellence credits. Notably, she also claimed the top spot in her Music class.

Paloma's academic prowess has earned her the prestigious 'Academic Tie' at Ngā Tawa School, a well deserved recognition of her outstandingly high achievement.

Currently, Paloma is diligently pursuing NCEA Level 3, maintaining an impressive grade average and preparing for her NCEA scholarship examination in Drama. Beyond her academic achievements, Paloma shines as:

  • Chair of the Rangitikei Youth Council
  • Humanities Head Prefect
  • A dedicated participant in cross country
  • An active contributor to speech, drama, and her band, DAHLIA.

Paloma's well-rounded excellence extends beyond the classroom, showcasing her leadership and talent in diverse pursuits.

Looking ahead, Paloma would like to continue her academic journey through tertiary education. In 2024, she plans to pursue a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Film, a testament to her ambition to excel academically and further explore her intellectual interests through higher education.

The scholarship she receives will aid in her transition to university, supporting her as she continues to excel in her academic pursuits.

Congratulations Paloma, we extend our best wishes for your future endeavours.

Isabel Mclean - Academia

Isabel's academic prowess is truly exceptional, characterised by a diligent work ethic and a proactive approach towards maximising her potential. Her exceptional time management skills have consistently propelled her to the highest academic achievement levels.

This dedication to excellence was first acknowledged during her time at Horowhenua College, when she was honoured as the Runner-up Academic student in Year 10 at the 2020 end of year prizegiving. Building on this accomplishment, Isabel achieved the coveted title of Top Academic Year 11 student the following year. In 2022, she further solidified her academic standing by earning the prestigious title of Top Academic Year 12 student.

Isabel's remarkable academic accomplishments extend across various subjects. She secured 1st place in a multitude of Level 2 subjects including Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, English, and History, and achieved a commendable 2nd place in Level 2 Drama.

Isabel's unwavering commitment to excellence is evident in her attainment of Level 1 and Level 2 NCEA endorsements with Excellence. Given her record of accomplishment, there is every expectation that she will successfully achieve University Entrance.

In recognition of Isabel’s outstanding contributions and capabilities, she was selected to join the Prefect Team for 2023 and entrusted with the role of Social Action Prefect. These appointments reflect not only her academic prowess, but also her dedication to making a positive impact within the school community and beyond.

Isabel aspires to pursue a Bachelor of Science at Otago University, with a specialisation in Biochemistry. This scholarship will assist in covering her university course fees.

Congratulations on your accomplishments Isabel, and all the best for your journey ahead at Otago University.

Nathan Eyles - Academia

Nathan has consistently demonstrated an exceptional commitment to academic excellence throughout his Horowhenua College journey. His dedication to his studies is commendable making him an outstanding candidate for academic recognition.

In Year 9, Nathan's aptitude for academics became evident when he was named the Top Academic student. This accomplishment marked the beginning of a series of impressive academic achievements. In Year 10, Nathan secured the top position in Mathematics, Social Studies, and Outdoor Education, earning the title of Top Academic student again. His achievements in Year 11 further solidified his academic prowess, with an NCEA Level 1 endorsement with excellence.

Year 12 was no exception to Nathan's remarkable academic journey. He achieved an NCEA Level 2 endorsement with excellence, an excellence endorsement in Physical Education, and merit endorsements in Mathematics and Commerce. His notable performance in specific subjects, including 1st in Physical Education, 1st in Physics, 2nd in Mathematics, and 2nd in Chemistry, demonstrated his versatility and competence.

Beyond his academic excellence, Nathan actively engages in extracurricular activities, such as representing the college on the Jimmy Carter Quiz team, showcasing his intellectual talents in a regional academic competition. His dedication to academics extends to his role as the Academic Prefect, where he promotes academic pursuits amongst his peers and organises academic activities for students to engage in.

Nathan aspires to pursue a Bachelor of Engineering at Canterbury University and plans to utilise the scholarship for university course costs.

Congratulations Nathan, your hard work and dedication have paid off, and your future is very bright.  All the best for 2024.

Lavalea Fonoti - Arts and Culture

Lavalea has demonstrated a deep commitment to preserving and sharing Samoan and Pacific Culture at Waiopehu College and within the local community. Her dedication to being a Cultural Leader and representative is truly commendable.

Lavalea consistently volunteers her time to engage in events that celebrate and uphold her cultural values. One notable example of her involvement is her leadership and active participation in the Fa'atasi Cultural Group at Waiopehu, where Lavalea shares her talent and knowledge with her peers, teaching dance and helping choreograph items.

Lavalea volunteered at Levin East School this year where she worked with the Cultural Group to develop a performance set that represented cultures of the Pacific, for the Junior Jandal Jam event. This support was invaluable for the school and large group of performers.

Furthermore, Lavalea has expanded her reach by being an integral part of the Vaka Ora Pasifika Forum, using her voice and influence to advocate for the empowerment and support of Pasifika Youth. Her role as the Head of Culture for Waiopehu College, alongside her dual role as Deputy Head Girl, reflects her exceptional leadership skills and the high regard in which she is held within the educational community.

Lavalea's impact extends beyond her immediate circles, as she serves as an inspirational role model for other young Pasifika students who look up to her with admiration. Her passion for her cultural heritage and dedication to empowering her peers is both evident and inspiring.

Lavalea would like to pursue a career in early childhood education. Congratulations Lavalea, keep up the fantastic work, all the very best for 2024.


 Charli O’Brien - Arts and Culture

Charli is a remarkable individual whose passion for the performing arts is evident in her outstanding achievements and contributions to Horowhenua College and the wider community of performing arts.

Charli’s dedication to the arts was immediately apparent as she commenced Horowhenua College which saw her acknowledged with a Year 9 Arts Scholarship. Charli's commitment to the field was further acknowledged when she was honoured with a Merit Award for Year 9 Drama during the end of year prizegiving.

Charli is actively involved in community arts. She initially performed in ensemble roles in various well-known productions such as Mamma Mia, Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ Superstar, Oliver, Hairspray Jnr and Annie.

Over time, Charli's expertise and abilities developed which enable her to take on female support roles in productions like Frozen Jnr, The Lion King, The Sound of Music and the Levin Artistic Awards. Most impressively, Charlie has transitioned to lead female roles in Star Blaze, A Slice of Saturday Night and High School Musical – performing these roles amazingly well and receiving accolades far and wide.

Charli’s commitment to the arts extends to her role as the Arts Prefect for 2023 where she successfully organised and promoted events related to the arts.  2023 has also seen Charli involved in preparing a group of students for the National Showquest. This required significant time commitment and the group gained a commendable 2nd place.

Looking forward, Charli aspires to pursue a Bachelor of Nursing in 2024.

Well done on your successes Charli, we are excited to see what the future holds for you!

Te Waipounamu Tamati - Art and Culture

Te Waipounamu has demonstrated exceptional dedication to her education and the promotion of Māori culture. She excels academically, consistently producing work of an excellence standard.

Her involvement in the Kapa Haka roopu – Te Rōpu Haka o Te Awahou, enables Te Waipounamu to share her culture through performances at various events and school functions across the Horowhenua.

Te Waipounamu's passion for learning about her culture and Te Ao Māori is evident in her active participation in class activities related to Te Reo, the recent Matariki focus, and her comprehensive understanding of Te Whare Tapa Wha, reflecting her dedication to holistic wellbeing.

As a school leader and house captain, Te Waipounamu exhibits exemplary leadership qualities. She takes initiative in organising and conducting house meetings, making a conscious effort to include younger students in the proceedings.

Te Waipounamu's future aspirations are centered on her continued involvement in Kapa Haka. She aims to further enhance her proficiency in Te Reo and seek out leadership opportunities in her educational journey.

Te Waipounamu intends to utilise the scholarship funds to enrich her education. Her interests lie in exploring New Zealand fiction with Māori themes and settings, and she plans to invest in additional resources that align with this passion.

Ko te manu e kai ana I te miro, nōnā te ngahere. Ko te manu e kai ana I te mātauranga, nōnā te ao – The bird that consumes the miro berry owns the forest. The bird that consumes knowledge owns the world.

Congratulations Te Waipounamu on this well-deserved award.

Maiah Cudby - Community Service

Congratulations to Maiah Cudby. Maiah's achievements in the field of surf lifesaving are truly remarkable. It's not every day that a year 11 student is named a finalist as a Support Officer of the Year, at the Surf Lifesaving New Zealand National Awards of Excellence. This recognition is a testament to her exceptional dedication and hard work.

Maiah's commitment to the safety of beachgoers in Horowhenua, is something that deserves our utmost respect and recognition. Her ongoing involvement with the Foxton Beach Surf Club showcases her determination to give back to her community and ensure their wellbeing.

Maiah started Surf Lifesaving at 2 years old at the Foxton Beach Nippers Club where she learned beach safety. Then graduated to water safety. Made the transition from Nippers to Rookie Lifeguard when she was 13 and then onto Patrol Support in 2022.

This year, at the Foxton Beach Surf Lifesaving Club, Maiah provided 90 hours of patrol, which was the most patrol hours on the beach for the summer. This moved her to the Capital Coast Awards where she won Best Patrol Support and Most Hours.

Maiah's contributions to the surf lifesaving and community as a whole, are greatly appreciated. Her dedication serves as an inspiration to all and her work in ensuring beachgoer's safety is exemplary.

Congratulations Maiah for this well-deserved recognition and thank you for your efforts in making our beaches safer. Your dedication is a shining example of what can be achieved when passion and hard work come together.

Georgia Cruse - Community Service

Georgia's dedication to working every Saturday and during school holidays at Helping Hands and the Shannon Kai Hub is commendable. She is known for her warm and friendly demeanour and always greets clients with a smile.

Georgia's willingness to take on new challenges and her commitment to giving her best in every task is admirable. She also has a great knack for relaxing clients with her warm smile and a listening ear.

In 2018, Georgia's leadership qualities were recognised with the prestigious Sir Peter Blake Young Leadership Award, which is bestowed upon young New Zealanders who demonstrate exceptional leadership within their school community. Additionally, she achieved the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Medal in recognition of her commitment to personal development and community service.

Most recently, in September Georgia along with 450 other young wāhine from across New Zealand, were celebrated and recognised at the GirlBoss New Zealand Awards.

The GirlBoss awards are dedicated to celebrating young women defying stereotypes and leading change in their communities. Georgia won the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths award category, for her selfless work and passion for technology and architecture where she has been using her architectural skills to benefit the community.

With aspirations to become an Architect, Georgia hopes to put these skills to use in the Horowhenua District to improve and create useful spaces in the community.

Congratulations Georgia on your achievements and thank you for the positive impact you have made in our community.

Ta'lia Tuitama - Community Service

Ta'lia is an exceptional individual who has shown an unwavering dedication to creating safe and inclusive spaces for the Rainbow community in the Horowhenua. While pursuing a fulltime degree at Massey University, she devotes a substantial amount of her free time to spearheading initiatives for the Free2BME Horowhenua Rainbow Group and other community events.

Ta'lia played a crucial role as a member of the organising team for the Horowhenua Uenuku Pride Ball in 2021 and 2022. Her contributions were instrumental in ensuring the success of these important events.

In 2019, Ta'lia took on the role of OK2BME facilitator at Horowhenua College, providing invaluable support and guidance to students seeking a safe space to express themselves.

In 2023, Ta'lia took the initiative to found and facilitate FREE2BME, an endeavour that further underscores her dedication to promoting inclusivity and acceptance within the Rainbow community.

Ta'lia's tireless efforts and contributions to the Rainbow community in the Horowhenua exemplify her passion for inclusivity and acceptance.  Her work has undoubtedly made a positive impact on the lives of many in the Rainbow community, and her future endeavours are bound to continue this trend of positive change.

Currently pursuing studies in Social Science with a future goal of becoming a child therapist, Ta'lia plans to allocate the scholarship towards her educational costs and make a donation to Free2BME.

Congratulations, Ta'lia, on your outstanding achievements and contributions to this critically important space. Your dedication and passion are truly commendable, and we look forward to witnessing the continued positive impact of your work.

Flynn Warren - Sport

 Flynn's accomplishments in the realm of sports are truly commendable and his achievements are a testament to his hard work and commitment to excel in multiple disciplines.

One of Flynn's remarkable feats was his selection in the New Zealand U18 Baseball team, a historic achievement for the country, as it marked the first time the team secured a victory over Australia.

Additionally, Flynn's regular commute from his hometown to Auckland during Terms 1 and 4, every weekend, to participate in Senior Men's Baseball for the Bayside-Westhaven Club, demonstrates his dedication to the sport. The Club's impressive 3rd place finish in the Men's National competition further attests to Flynn's role as a valuable member of the team.

Furthermore, Flynn's involvement with T-ball coaching in Levin for 5–7-year-olds shows his commitment to nurturing young talent and giving back to the community. His acquisition of the Community Umpire Certificate further exemplifies his dedication.

In addition to his accomplishments in baseball, Flynn's representation of Waiopehu College in both the 1st XI Football and Hockey teams for annual competitions highlights his versatility and proficiency in multiple sports.

Flynn's ambition is to secure a sports scholarship in baseball at a US college in 2025. His determination to continue participating in top tier competitions in Auckland and maintaining his position in National teams reflects his commitment to representing New Zealand on the international stage.

To top off a successful year, Flynn was recently announced Waiopehu College’s Head Boy position for 2024. Congratulations Flynn, your success is well deserved, keep aiming high and chasing your dreams.

Cassie Yates - Sport

Cassie is a remarkable athlete who has been involved in Tae Kwon Do from the age of four and has collected achievements that are nothing short of extraordinary. Her dedication, skill, and perseverance have propelled her to the pinnacle of this demanding discipline.

At the national level, Cassie won the prestigious title of National Champion in the fiercely competitive 18+ category, showcasing her dominance in her division. Her attainment of a First-Degree Black Belt further underscores her proficiency, marking a significant milestone in her martial arts journey.

At an international level, Cassie has clinched the title of Oceania Champion in her division an impressive four times, and in 2017, also distinguished herself as the Australian Champion in her age group, solidifying her status as an exceptional athlete on the national stage.

Cassie recently represented NZ at the World Championships in Finland, where she was a member of the team who won Gold in Team Patterns. Cassie placed 5th in the world for sparring, demonstrating her prowess in intense one-on-one combat.

Her future endeavours are characterised by a clear ambition to continue training rigorously and striving for qualification in further World Championships. Cassie’s ultimate aspiration is to secure individual event titles and add to her already illustrious collection of Oceania, National, and regional titles.

Cassie's achievements and future aspirations exemplify the qualities of a dedicated and accomplished athlete. Her commitment to her craft and her pursuit of excellence serves as an inspiration to her peers, and testament to her potential for continued success in the world of ITF Tae Kwon Do.

Congratulations Cassie, we wish you all the very best for the future.

Whatu Kiriona - Sport

Whatu is an exceptionally gifted sportsman with a remarkable proficiency across a diverse range of sports. His impressive track record in softball includes stints with three club teams for the 2022/23 season and being selected for the Manawatū U17 Boys Rep Team in 2023.

Not limited to softball, Whatu has also excels in hockey. He is a valued member of the Horowhenua College 1st XI Boys Hockey Team and in 2023, he played a pivotal role in the Levin Combined Colleges 1st XI Boys Hockey Team, which emerged victorious in the Hockey Manawatū Secondary Schools Intercity 1 Competition. They also won the Woollaston Trophy at the Secondary Schools Hockey Tournament. Furthermore, Whatu also played for the Tai Uru Haupoi Māori Men’s Hockey Team this year.

In football, Whatu played for the Levin AFC Combined Colleges U17 Boys Football Team, and on the rugby field he played for the Horowhenua College 1st XV Boys Rugby Team this year.

Notably, Whatu's leadership qualities shine through as he assumes the role of Team Captain for the Horowhenua College J19 Boys Waka Ama Team. Whatu's leadership style is characterised by his ability to lead by example and his unwavering support for his teammates. He consistently upholds the values of fair play, demonstrating both humility in victory and grace in defeat. Whatu's dedication, sportsmanship, and versatility make him a standout figure in the realm of sports.

Congratulations Whatu, keep excelling with your sport, there is nothing you cannot achieve, if you put your mind to it.  


Civic Honours Photos

Certificates of Recognition Photos

Special Mayoral Awards - Eke Tangaroa

Horowhenua Youth Excellence Scholarships Photos