2022 Civic Honours Awards and Youth Excellence Scholarships presented
Published on November 28, 2022
Some of Horowhenua’s most remarkable volunteers were recognised with Civic Honours and Certificates of Recognition during the 2022 Civic Honours Ceremony held on Tuesday 22 November.
Presented by Mayor Bernie Wanden, five Civic Honours were awarded, alongside three Certificates of Recognition. In addition, twelve extraordinary young people received Youth Excellence Scholarships.
Mayor Bernie Wanden says, “This is certainly one of the highlights of the year for us. The annual event has been held since 1995, with people from all aspects of our community having been recognised for their service. These recognitions are an acknowledgement of long and commendable voluntary service to our community, and it is an honour to celebrate the awards recipients in this way.”
“Volunteers come from all walks of life, they give their time for many different reasons. Whatever the reason, we know that without volunteers, without the movers and shakers, the heroes and driving forces within an organisation, things simply would not get done.”
Award recipients and their supporting friends and family were entertained by Imogen Williamson, a Kiribati Dance Trio and Sela Tosi who performed a Tongan dance during the ceremony, which began with the singing of the national anthem led by Youth Excellence Scholarship students.
Youth Excellence Scholarships is an initiative which began 18 years ago. More than 200 young people have been acknowledged with a scholarship which has assisted with costs such as tertiary study, sporting equipment and travel.
The scholarships are an acknowledgement of commitment, dedication and hard work, rewarding some of our most outstanding sportsmen and women, top scholars, amazing performers and those who give their time to our community by way of voluntary service and participation.
Civic Honours awards were presented to:
Allyson Bramwell – Community Affairs. Allyson has been the lead for the catering team for the Wahine-Toa Women of Courage Programme - a full weekend facilitated by Levin Police to support women who have been in volatile relationships. Once a year, Allyson and her team treat the ladies to a day of glamour and pampering following weeks of preparation and collecting donations to make the day memorable. For five years Allyson also helped prepare breakfast for the CACTUS Programme.
Allyson is the volunteer secretary/treasurer for Blue Light – a registered charity that works in partnership with the Police to deliver an extensive range of youth programmes and activities, and she has been instrumental in school fundraisers for many years for Ōhau School, including the 2021 Mother’s Day High Tea. Allyson also supported netball fundraisers for Waiopehu College.
She was the Treasurer for the Levin AFC Football Club for eight years and ran the kitchen at the clubrooms providing meals for visiting teams. Allyson is currently the volunteer secretary/treasurer for the Horowhenua Abuse Liaison Team.
Rob Fifita-Tovo – Community Affairs - Service to Pacific Peoples. Driven to strengthen Pacific networks and work to improve social, education, health and wellbeing outcomes, Rob was Fale Pasifika’s inaugural Chairperson. During the past twelve years, Rob has held Chairperson and Deputy Chairperson positions, and has been instrumental in many initiatives for the Pacific and wider community, including the first Pasifika Celebration Day in 2011, and many Pasifika Youth Jandal Jam events since 2013.
Rob has been a significant influence within a Pacific Education Working Group, supporting church visits and making vital introductions between working group members and Church Ministers and congregations. Through this group, the PowerUp initiative and Pasifika Success Talanoa trainings were established, aimed at increasing attendance rates and achievement, improving parental engagement in their children's education, and teaching professionals Pacific Island culture and ways, in order for them to understand and teach Pacific children.
In 2020, through the Provincial Growth Fund, an opportunity arose for Fale Pasifika to work with Council to apply to the Pasifika Churches Renovation fund. Rob was on the working party who worked with contractors and church representatives to scope the renovation, and once the funding of $1.46M was approved, continued to liaise between the PGF, Council and the Churches.
Jim & Sarah Harper – Services to Conservation. Through an impressive series of conservation initiatives and community work, Jim and Sarah Harper have made a substantial contribution to Foxton’s heritage look and its revitalisation as a visitor destination.
Due to Sarah and Jim’s efforts as volunteer-but-expert conservationists, Foxton now has two beautiful heritage facades. The late 1800s Foxton Racing Club and Manawatū Herald buildings bask again in their former 19th century glory, plus the oldest surviving 'Sunnyside' residential mid-1800s cottage is one of the oldest in the country.
In addition to restoration works, Jim and Sarah have volunteered at MAVtech museum (incl. chairmanship) and the Foxton Historical Society. Jim currently is co-chair of the Foxton Historical Society and is involved in saving the heritage Court House building for future generations.
As a member of the Save Our River Trust (SORT), Jim was indispensable in the conservation, restoration and placement of the 150 year old historic anchor found on the river bank in the Te Awahou Riverside Cultural Park.
Jim’s support for the Oranjehof Museum has also been invaluable. He fully restored a 200-year old Friesian clock, helped repair several damaged museum pieces, has provided expert conservation advice, has assisted with placing a high value replica Abel Tasman ship (De Zeehaen) in Oranjehof, and after two days of solid efforts, managed to open a 1630s 'treasure chest' in the Abel Tasman room that had been locked for a number of years.
Jeff Jones – Community Affairs. Known as the handyman extraordinaire around town, Jeff has dedicated countless hours supporting and helping our community.
Using skills learned as a member of the Deer Stalkers, his involvement with the Four Wheel Drive Club, and being an enthusiastic Ham radio operator, Jeff’s knowledge and experience has been invaluable with both search and rescue and civil defence for more than 35 years.
In 2021, the Levin Car Club awarded Jeff with a plaque for more than thirty years of service to the club which has included rescues and marshalling for car rallies and sprints.
Jeff has volunteered for the Great Forest Run for almost 25 year as a radio marshall and has supported event organisers with picking up injured athletes when needed, and has assisted during the annual Medieval Market for more than two decades.
Jeff was a Scout Leader for eight years with the Shannon Scouts, and helped establish the Rural Fire Service for which he was a crew leader for 16 years. He was a member of the Levin Fire Brigade, a volunteer with Levin Riding for the Disabled, and Levin Rotary.
Jeff worked for the Borough and District Council, and although these were paid positions, he continuously went above and beyond his 40 hour working week. For 32 years Jeff managed at The Pot which is where Council disposes of its wastewater – he helped develop the site, planted and pruned the trees, and would often be at work at very early hours of the morning getting the irrigation going.
Stewart Thompson – Community Affairs. Stewart has had an affiliation with many Horowhenua community groups during the past 20 years. His willingness and commitment to lead or be a member of a board, or to simply get stuck in and get the job done, has been invaluable for many clubs and groups.
One such club is the Levin Golf Club where Stewart was a committee member for many years, and from 2007–2014 held the position of President Chairperson. Stewart implemented course and business procedures that stood the club in good stead and continually strived to create a golf course and club where members and visitors enjoyed playing and socialising.
With the support of the committee, Stewart set up a programme to work with junior golfers which is still in place today. The Manawatū-Wanganui Eagles Golfing Society recognised the work and effort Stewart had put into not only Levin Golf Club, but the Manawatū-Wanganui golf association as well, which resulted in Stewart being inducted into the Eagles Golfing Society of NZ.
Stewart served on the Life Education Trust Board for more than six years and was active in fundraising activities and supporting the educator in their work. These programmes provide lessons in a mobile classroom that align with the New Zealand Curriculum and the Child and Youth Wellbeing Strategy.
In 2020, Stewart was appointed as the Chairperson of Age Concern Horowhenua and during the past two years has made countless improvements to the policies and procedures, resulting in a stable and structured governance approach. Stewart provided guidance for the new manager and supported learning and development, and has been active in the fundraising space, at public events, and volunteers in the office to assist the team. Under Stewart’s leadership, Age Concern Horowhenua has gone from strength to strength in providing invaluable services and support for the elderly, and their families.
Certificates of Recognition were awarded to:
Kelly Binning-Rangi – Education Services. Kelly has dedicated many years of service towards education in the Horowhenua across a variety of education providers.
Kelly has served on the Board of Trustees at Fairfield School for nine years; five and a half of these years were as Board Chair where Kelly led the school and board through a pandemic and two principal appointments. Her achievements during this period included two new classrooms, re-zoning to allow for growth in the Fairfield area, the creation of a technology area known as the maker space, the re-establishment of the school library and the introduction of play-based learning in the junior school.
Kelly also dedicated eight years to the Fairfield Community Group; a group that is active in raising funds for the school to provide the “cherries on top” for students.
Kelly served for three years on the Board of Trustees at Levin Intermediate School and during this time Levin Intermediate had a new administration block added to the school.
She also served for five years on the Levin East School Parent Teacher Association, however Cambridge Street Kindergarten is where it all began. Kelly spent two years on the parent committee that was instrumental in raising the funds for a new outdoor playground.
Kelly was also involved in fundraising for Ronald McDonald House in Wellington. One of the more significant fundraising events was a formal dinner where items were donated from the community and auctioned to raise funds.
Chris Clarke – Community Affairs. Chris has volunteered at Levin Riding for the Disabled for 16 years, holding the title of Facilities Manager on the Levin Riding for Disabled Association Management Committee and has led the maintenance of the facilities at Speldhurst Country Estate.
Chris has spent countless hours mowing lawns, harrowing paddocks and the riding arena, fixing fences and clearing away trees and branches when they fell. Chris also sources and coordinates cutting, picking up and storing of the hay.
Instrumental in relocating the Riding for the Disabled from Speldhurst to the new Mako Mako Road location, Chris worked tirelessly on developing the new arena and base amenities for the riders, and facilitated the contribution of local trades and service people to complete the extensive project.
For the past four years, Chris has been the maintenance person for the Levin Adventure Park train, reconditioning and keeping the train operating, ensuring safety standards are met and the track is well maintained.
When Chris moved to Levin in the mid-eighties, he joined the Levin Car Club serving on the committee and holding almost every position including the presidency, and has been recognised with Life Membership.
Motor sport and vintage cars are a passion for Chris. He has a long association with all facets, locally as a member of both the Horowhenua Vintage Car Club and Levin Car Club, and at national level competing in motor sport and latterly contributing as administrator, marshall and scrutineer.
Bill Davey – Social Affairs / Services. Bill is the Chairperson of the Levin Interchurch Foodbank and works tirelessly to ensure this much needed service meets the needs of our community. Networking with local supermarkets, other local suppliers, donors and the foodbank volunteers, Bill is the ‘face’ of the foodbank in Levin.
Although Bill works in a volunteer capacity, he dedicates his time at least five days per week. His commitment and the contribution he makes is outstanding, and his role as Chairperson for the past five years is in title only, as Bill goes above and beyond working on the roster to pack parcels, collect food donations and actively support other volunteers on the food packing roster.
He gets involved in every aspect of the foodbank operation, and his enthusiasm and willingness to ‘get stuck in’ is inspirational. He communicates well with everyone and is always ready to help foodbank volunteers when the demand for food parcels goes beyond expectations, which as you can imagine happens frequently.
The reputation of the Levin Interchurch Foodbank is a credit to the work that Bill does, and provides vital relief to the community.
Horowhenua Youth Excellence Scholarships were awarded to:
Emma Zussino (Academia)
Anand Ranchhod (Academia)
Eneti Tofa (Academia)
Amber Rollinson (Arts and Culture)
Imogen Williamson (Arts and Culture)
Petesa Tomane (Arts and Culture)
Noah Watters (Arts and Culture)
Grace Purches (Community Service)
Ali Parata (Sport)
Jessica Leota (Sport)
Kahurangi Skudder (Sport)
Oliver Kennett (Sport)