2020 Civic Honours and Youth Excellence Scholarships presented

Published on 18 November 2020

Civic Honours and Youth Excellence Scholarships.

Outstanding voluntary service to the community saw five people recognised with Civic Honours Awards and five with Certificates of Recognition in the 2020 Horowhenua Civic Honours Awards at Te Takeretanga o Kura-hau-pō on Tuesday 17 November.

In addition, the Council’s 2020 Horowhenua Youth Excellence Scholarships were presented to 12 young people. These acknowledge excellence in academia, arts and culture, community service, and sport, by young people aged between 12 and 24. The $250 scholarships primarily acknowledge excellence, but also provide a small financial contribution and encourage local young people to strive to achieve their goals and dreams.

The awards were presented by Mayor Bernie Wanden with support from councillors and Mayoress Sharon Wanden.

Civic Honours awards were presented to:

Dean Thomas – Dean Thomas has been an integral part of the Levin College Old Boys Club for decades, serving as a coach, manager, committee member and club statistician.

His dedication is second-to-none. He has managed the Premier team for 27 years, and team coaches describe him as a ‘club warrior who is the first to arrive and the last to leave’. To all who know him, he is a humble man with a heart of gold.

Dean also looks after the club’s statistics and keeps track of player game counts so the club can acknowledge player milestones such as blazer games, 50 game badges and centurions. This is vitally important for the club’s history, and Levin College Old Boys has grown into a proud family club with lots of players earning their blazers and 50 game badges, and even the right to call themselves club centurions. This is very special accolade for those players that wouldn’t have been possible without Dean personally taking on the statistician role.

Dean has been a life member of the club for over a decade, as well as being awarded ‘Best Non-Playing Club Member’ at this year’s Club Prizegiving.

He was also acknowledged as a Grassroots Hero during the COVID-19 lockdown for his outstanding dedication to the club.

Peter Dyer – Peter Dyer has been a valued member of the Levin Citizens Advice Bureau for many years, and has filled executive roles within the Bureau for most of that time.

He is the Levin Bureau’s longest serving president, and continued to serve as a valuable member of the board after stepping down from his role as president when he had reached the maximum allowable term of office.

Peter also plays a vital role as the Bureau’s training and induction officer, where his years of experience are put to great use.

Furthermore, Peter is very active in Grey Power and Age Concern, where once again his life experience is used to maximum effect. He is much respected and admired for the boundless enthusiasm and energy he devotes to these organisations.

Peter has worked diligently for the benefit of the people of Horowhenua for many years, and is familiar to many as a passionate and hard-working advocate for older people.

While Peter has never sought recognition for his outstanding voluntary contribution, it would be difficult to think of anyone more deserving of acknowledgement.

Garry Good – Garry has served as a teacher, principal, and university advisor for almost 50 years. During this time, he has actively improved the educational environment, and has mentored many others in the delivery of excellence in education.

Garry served as a Councillor for Horowhenua District Council from 2004 to 2016, holding the positon of Deputy Mayor twice. He sat on many external and internal committees, including the Hearings Committee, Grants Committee, Horowhenua Library Trust, Creative NZ and Community Wellbeing Executive. His diplomatic, honest and frank approach won the respect of all who worked with him.

Garry volunteers countless hours serving trusts, charities and organisations that benefit our community, in particular using his expertise from the education sector to improve learner outcomes.

He became a member of the HLC board in 2005, and has served as board chair since 2008. He was instrumental in establishing HLC at its purpose built learning facility in Liverpool Street, where students are thriving.

From 2008 to 2016, Garry served on the board of the Life Education Trust, and from 2010 to 2019 he was a member of Education Horowhenua, a forum established to oversee and coordinate implementation of the Horowhenua Education Strategy. He was a key driver of initiatives such as He Whare Manaaki, the teen parenting unit at Waiopehu College, the establishment of Life to the Max youth coordinator positions, the Pacific Learners initiative and House of Science, to name a few.

Garry’s expertise in the education sector and governance experience was called upon again in 2016, becoming first a board member and then Deputy Chair of the Horowhenua College Board of Trustees, where he has been instrumental in building and facility upgrades at the college.

Garry received a Civic Honour for Community Affairs and Services to Education.

Therase Apatu – Therase possesses a deep social conscience and a passion for helping those facing hardship and deprivation.

While serving on the Horowhenua Strengthening Families Local Management Group and as Social Worker in 2014, Therase recognised some children were missing out on the joy of getting a Christmas present through no fault of their own.

She led a team of volunteers determined to provide gifts to children who would otherwise miss out. This project evolved into ‘Fill a Shoebox’. Gifts for children of all ages are gathered and matched to young people nominated by community services and groups.

The initiative grew rapidly, from meeting its target of delivering gift parcels to 200 children in its first year to delivering 1600 parcels in 2019, a mammoth effort which has brightened the lives of thousands of Horowhenua children.

Therase’s determination, enthusiasm and organisational skills drove this project to the success it is today. She mobilised community groups, gathered business support, and received donations from schools, workplaces and individuals, as well as arranging an army of volunteers to ensure the precious parcels were delivered.

Therase has also served for many years as a volunteer, committee member and chairperson for the annual Children’s Day event at Levin Adventure Park. Every year, hundreds of families benefit from this free day of fun activities to celebrate our children and young people.

Her volunteer service doesn’t end there. In 2018, Therase saw another need in the community and launched ‘Bare Essentials’ to distribute hygiene products to women experiencing financial hardship.

Special Civic Honour:

A special Civic Honour was presented to Darryl Small before the ceremony in the days before his passing following a battle with cancer. At the ceremony, Darryl’s wife Glennis Small and daughter Kim were invited to the stage in public acknowledgement of Darryl’s contribution to the community.

Darryl Small – Darryl was known as an active community man, who would simply always be there to support and assist in keeping organisations and groups on an even keel both financially and governing wise.

Over many years, Darryl volunteered his time willingly for various organisations and trusts, and as a chartered accountant, he would often be asked to take on the treasurer role – not always the most sought-after role, but he would do it willingly and competently.

Darryl joined the Levin Little Theatre in 1991, and in his early time with the theatre was an avid participant both onstage and back stage. He immediately joined the committee and became the treasurer in 1995, and was still doing that role until he passed away. As with many of Darryl’s contributions to this community it was never done to seek the limelight but to support and ensure they survived financially and operated in a business-like manner.

Those of us who have been in this town a while will know what a huge community project the establishment of the Donnelly Park Hockey Turf was. Darryl was a foundation development member for that project and has been a trustee of the Horowhenua Sports Turf Trust since its inception in 2000.

Another trust which benefited from Darryl’s generosity of time, was the Kids In Sports Trust, for which Darryl was on the board for the last three years, Darryl had also been on the Fairfield School Board of Trustee for six years, and took on the role of treasurer.

In addition, Darryl had been involved in setting up the Heritage Horowhenua Charitable Trust for the last three years and once the trust was formed in February this year, he became a trustee.

Arguably, one of Darryl’s most passionate roles he took on was with the Levin Cosmopolitan Club, which he joined as a member in 1993. Not being one to stand back, in 1997 he accepted a nomination to join the Club’s Executive and in 2011 he took this up a notch by taking on the role of President, which he held for six years until 2017. Darryl was made a Life Member of the club in 2018.

Darryl’s contribution to this community has been immense over many years and it was extremely fitting and apt that we could recognise that before his passing. His contribution will not be forgotten.

Certificates of Recognition were awarded to:

Tony and Yvonne Green – Tony and Yvonne are being recognised this evening for Services to the Community and Religious Affairs.

Both Tony and Yvonne have been volunteers at the Levin Baptist Adult Day Club for more than 50 years. They are described as the epitome of kindness, decency and selflessness. They are tireless volunteers with wonderful attitudes, who are always ready to lend a helping hand.

Tony is a member of the team that sets up Adult Day Care, including preparing the hall for bowls, games and the day’s activities. Once set up is complete, Tony begins his regular rounds to pick up attendees. While this is happening, Yvonne is busy in the kitchen, being the games coordinator, or organising the next activity. She wears many hats at the centre and is known as the ‘go-to’ person for absolutely anything and everything.

Tony and Yvonne who also provide mentoring for the young and not-so-young who are in need of support, advice and understanding without judgement.

They are a perfect team. Those who have benefited from their dedication to others describe them as ‘a pleasure to know’ and an example of integrity, reliability and trustworthiness that can inspire us all.

Christine and Gerry Bennett – Chris and Gerry Bennett epitomise the people in the community we should all aspire to be. They give without wanting reward; they appreciate that all people are different and treat everyone with compassion and dignity; they are sensitive towards all cultures; they always greet others with a warm smile; and they have a sense of humour that brightens everyone’s day.

Chris and Gerry have been volunteers for the Horowhenua Health Shuttle since 2008.

They are a dynamic duo and stand out for their unwavering commitment to this invaluable service. With Gerry at the wheel and Chris as his support crew, they are appreciated by passengers for their caring approach and for going the extra mile. Chris and Gerry are one of the crews that take the early morning run, which departs Levin at 6am. They will often also take the 5:00pm run out of Palmerston North. Nothing is too much trouble for the couple, who often deliver passengers to their home in the cold winter months instead of taking them to the health centre where they would have to find their own ride home.

Chris and Gerry are the first to offer help if others are not able to work their rostered run, and are described as ‘the most caring couple anyone would have the pleasure to meet’. Gerry often shares his expertise with others in the use of the shuttle hoist and management of passengers with wheelchairs. His instructions are clear and concise and ensure that passengers are boarded safely, with dignity and compassion.

Chris and Gerry are very worthy recipients of a Certificate of Recognition.

Linda Lake – Linda’s selflessness, hard work and concern for others has meant the difference between having food on the table and going hungry for those in our community who face the greatest need.  

Recognising a need in the community and not wanting to see children and young people go hungry, Linda started a food rescue and distribution initiative from her home. She began rescuing food that would otherwise have gone to waste from supermarkets and food producers to distribute to those in need. The operation grew and so did the need.

By 2019, the initiative had evolved into ‘Te Awahou Kai’, which is now based in Whyte Street Foxton. Linda is at the helm as the coordinator, with a support crew of approximately 15 volunteers. As the coordinator, Linda organises the fundraising, volunteers, food rescue and distribution. She sources food from her network of connections, and her success in this is illustrated by securing contributions of a staggering 1 ton of rice and 6 tons of tomato sauce.

Linda’s food sources include a hugely supportive Foxton community and producers as far away as the Manawatu, Hawkes Bay and Wellington. The outreach is just as extensive with supplies delivered locally and as far as Ōtaki, Eltham, Dannevirke and the Woodville area.

Linda and the team also run ‘Hampers for Christmas’, providing hampers at a time when something special is most appreciated; and Unity in the Community, which directs new and second-hand products to those in need.

Linda received a Kiwibank Local Hero Award 2019. Known as a trusted and hard-working hero in the Te Awahou community, she is humble and insists that it is the volunteers that make it happen.

Brenda Kean – Brenda has been an active member of the Horowhenua community for over 40 years, taking on executive roles with the Levin Parents Centre, Levin Pony Club and Levin Riding for the Disabled.

Joining the Levin Parents Centre in the early 1980s, Brenda prepared couples for childbirth and parenting, first as the Antenatal Coordinator and then as Coordinator at the Levin Maternity Hospital. A move to Pittsburgh, USA for a year led Brenda to become a qualified Antenatal Instructor. She brought back a wealth of new ideas and knowledge to share.

Brenda dedicated many years to helping young people achieve their goals as a teacher, careers teacher, and transition-to-work teacher at Waiopehu College. She also coached hockey and mentored students who needed extra support. Later, Brenda worked on the Gateway Project, which supported students who struggled in class and needed a practical ‘on the job’ learning environment.

A keen and accomplished horse rider, Brenda served The Levin Pony Club as instructor and secretary. Later, when the Ōhau and Levin Pony Clubs amalgamated, she became the club’s President.

Towards the end of her teaching career, Brenda’s expertise with horses and helping people who need extra support led her to Levin Riding for the Disabled.  RDA works to improve riders’ mental skills, physical strength, coordination and confidence. Before long, Brenda was leading sessions of her own while looking at improvements, efficiencies and rider safety. She worked tirelessly to provide structured goals to measure the riders’ progress. Brenda is the life breath of RDA. She is kind, cheerful and organises everyone with precision.

Lynne McKenzie – Lynne became a member of Horowhenua Breathe Easy Support Group in 2013 and was elected onto the committee in 2014. In 2016 Lynne was elected as President of the group and remains in this positon today. Breathe Easy provides support, information and social interaction for people living with any kind of respiratory condition. Lynne’s impact on the group was immediate through volunteering to help in any way she could from welcoming members, to assisting with morning teas and transport. As chairperson, Lynne shows great leadership bringing energy and enthusiasm into the group, meetings and outings. Her organisational skills and leadership are greatly valued by the group.

Not stopping there, Lynne is also a volunteer at House of Science Horowhenua, picking up and dropping off science resources to schools across the district. Without the generosity of volunteers, this educational initiative would not be the success it is today.

Another group that has benefited from Lynne’s organisational skills is Horowhenua Grey Power. Lynne became a member in 2008 and in 2013 was elected to the positon of secretary, until 2018. The President of Grey Power notes Lynne as being invaluable as a secretary who supported him and the committee meticulously. 

This award publicly acknowledges outstanding voluntary service.

Horowhenua Youth Excellence Scholarships were awarded to:

Renee Smith (Academia)

Kate Nicholson (Academia)

Carter Maddock (Academia)

Ethan Roentgen (Academia)

Rawinia Lloyd (Academia)

Samuel Anderson (Sport)

Jamie Harper (Community Service)

Tonga Ngaluafe (Community Service)

Aaliyah Wicks (Arts & Culture)

Caroline Vehikite (Arts & Culture)

Lizzie MacDonald (Arts & Culture)

Rihara Norgrove-Rangihuna (Arts & Culture)