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Mayors Community Awards recognise outstanding contribution to community

The Waikato District Council’s Mayoral Community Awards were held this morning with 13 nominees attending along with their friends and family.

These awards are held every two- years and recognise the significant contribution made by volunteers to the community and to the vitality of the Waikato district.

The award recipients and the community work which they have been recognised for are listed below:

Leo Koppens from Tamahere

Leo Koppens has been restoring gullies for about 35 years. He began with restoration work on his own property, turning a 1.5 hectare unproductive gully in to native woodland. His passion for environmental restoration has led him to voluntarily restore gully networks in Tamahere and Matangi. Leo has done an amazing job in the Tamahere Reserve along the Mangaone Stream and has also created the start of the Allan Turner Walkway and worked on the restoration of the Mangaharakeke Stream.  All of this has been done in a purely volunteer capacity and Leo has inspired many other volunteers to assist him in his crusade.

Angela Williams from Raglan

Angela Williams is the Minute Secretary for the Raglan Arts Council and treasurer and board member for the Raglan Chamber of Commerce.  She helped organise a Sunday and public holiday bus service for the Raglan community when the service was cancelled.  This is now a joint initiative run by the Raglan Chamber of Commerce and Waikato District Council. Prior to this Angela volunteered in the sports sector for 30 years. She is a great example of a volunteer who works tirelessly for her community but flies quietly under the radar.

Gwen Oliver from Ngaruawahia

Gwen Oliver is 74 years old and has lived in Ngaruawahia nearly all her life. Gwen has been involved with Meals on Wheels for over 25 years and still delivers them to people in the town today.  Gwen has also been involved with the Ngaruawahia Senior Citizens and Friendship club for 12 years and for the last nine years has been Club President. The role has involved not only the organisation of meetings, but also coordinating guest speakers, entertainment and trips away. Her volunteer work has contributed towards building a more positive and supportive community.

Graham McBride from Te Kowhai

Graham led the Te Otamanui Walkway project for many years on behalf of the Te Kowhai Community Committee and is also a published author – his books mainly focussed on the local community. Graham has been recognised over the years with a number of awards for his work - receiving a MNZM for services to environmental matters. Graham represents his community with extensive involvement in the Te Otamanui Lagoon walkway project and it is for that work that the nomination for a community award has been made.

Syd Goodwright from Otaua

Syd is currently Chairman of the Aka Aka Otaua Land Drainage Subcommittee of the Waikato Regional Council.  The Drainage board started in 1895 and is the oldest such board in New Zealand.  Syd joined in 1976 and he is in his 40th year of service on this committee.  He’s also a representative on the lower Waikato river catchment committee. Involved in all elements of community life, Syd has been active with the Otaua School, Plunket, the Hall committee and bowls and tennis clubs. He is part of the Otaua Church and supports many community groups such as the Otaua Village Preservation committee and IHC rural calf club.

Elaine Preston from Ngaruawahia

When the Ngaruawahia High School was facing closure, Elaine Preston began a crusade to not only keep the school open but to turn its reputation around.

Her aim was to make it the first choice for secondary education in the community and Elaine has worked with passion and commitment to make this dream a reality.  The school has faced significant challenges over the years. However, after a lengthy community engagement process driven by Elaine, the school now has an active Board, an increasing roll and attendance has improved substantially. Elaine’s passion and energy have contributed hugely to these changes.

Gilbert Powley from Te Kauwhata

Gilbert Powley has been voluntarily pruning the iconic heritage roses adorning the fences of the Te Kauwhata Road entrance to the village and along Travers Road for 20 years. There are about 2,000 roses to prune in this area and this is a huge job for anyone but for a man now in his nineties, it is remarkable. This nomination has the endorsement of the Te Kauwhata Community Committee and the village residents would agree it is enormously well deserved.

Graham Membery from Matangi

Chairman of the Matangi Community Committee, Graham Membery has also been a committee member and former chairman of the Drainage Board. He is current Chairman of the local drainage committee and has made a huge contribution to the drainage schemes in his district to manage the flooding issues. Well known as a Matangi/Hillcrest Rugby Club member, and keen bowler and committee member of the Matangi Bowling Club, Graham has given many years of dedicated service to his community. He has been very involved in the school and was one of the group members that worked hard towards establishing the Matangi reserve.

Gail Mayall from Eureka

Gail has spent many years as a Justice of the Peace and Citizens Advice volunteer and has been on a number of committees. This includes working as secretary of the Eureka Hall Committee and as an office holder and member of the badminton club and district reunion committee. She is one of the key people organising community farewells and functions in the district.  Working tirelessly to produce the Eureka Express, a local newspaper which distributes 10 issues per year, Gail is also involved in writing about local history. A dedicated community member, Gail is described by many as the ‘glue’ that keeps the district together.

Roger & Rosalie Jennings from Gordonton

For the past 30 years Roger and Rosalie Jennings have lived in Gordonton and have undertaken a tremendous amount of community work.  They joined the Woodlands Trust volunteer group in 1992 and still volunteer there to ensure its ongoing improvement. 

Together, they have served on the Gordonton Community Committee over many years. Roger’s work at the Gordonton cemetery recently involved planting and maintenance of the nearby pine plantation. This will give a financial reward to the community in years to come. Roger and Rosalie have had a significant involvement with St Marys Church at Gordonton, with both having served many roles within the church community. 

Graham Gunn from Huntly

Graham has been doing community service since he was very young, in 1969 becoming a charter member of the first Leo Club formed in New Zealand by the Lions Club of Huntly. Volunteering his time to many sporting club committees, Graham has served as a trustee of the Kimihia Home and Hospital. Along with the Huntly College principal, he initiated the volunteer house build project involving students. Graham also built Santa’s sleigh which is used in Huntly each Christmas, and dismantles it for storage each year. He has done the same to maintain the gorgeous wooden poppies created for Anzac day that we see planted around town annually.

Judith Pellow from Onewhero

Judith Pellow has dedicated nearly 50 years to improving health within Franklin and has been an integral part of numerous local organisations and committees. She began volunteering for the Franklin community in 1966, first with Plunket, followed by the Tuakau and Districts Church, Onewhero Area School and the National Council of Women. Other work includes her involvement with Rural Women New Zealand, and she has been chairwomen of the Franklin Positive Ageing Committee and secretary of the Franklin Community Care Committee (FCCC).  Awarded Franklin’s Finest Person of the Year Award, Mrs Pellow also received the Inspiration Award at the ceremony in December 2014. 

For more information contact

Ginny Semmens
Communications Advisor
Waikato District Council
07 824 8633 Extn: 5778