NPDC Citizens' Awards Recognise Outstanding Volunteers

14 August 2017

Nine outstanding members of New Plymouth District’s community will tonight receive Citizens’ Awards!

The years of voluntary work by the nine recipients cover a wide range of sectors, from emergency services and sports to employment and health.

“It’s a real pleasure to be able to give an official ‘thank you and well done’ to these nine people,” says Mayor Neil Holdom.

“Volunteers are the life-blood of our district – there are many services that would grind to a halt without them.

“So often our volunteers work behind the scenes without recognition. This year’s recipients of the Citizens’ Awards are outstanding due to their years of dedication and how much they have given back to the community, so this is an opportunity to put the spotlight on them and give them some well-deserved praise.”

The recipients of the 2017 Citizens Awards are:

Nigel Cash (Waitara)

Nigel has supported the Waitara Fire Brigade for 20 years as a member of the Operational Support Unit. His duties include traffic control support at motor vehicle accidents and scene lighting assistance; however, it is the extra voluntary work over and above his brigade duties that has led Nigel to this award.  

The New Zealand Fire Service runs a programme offering the elderly, young families and the disabled free home fire safety checks, resulting in the installation of a free smoke alarm.  Each check takes about an hour to complete.

For some time now Nigel has unselfishly given up his day off to provide these checks to Waitara and surrounding communities.  

Elaine Gill (New Plymouth)

Elaine has been in New Plymouth for 40-plus years and involved with over 30 trusts, committees, forums and advisory groups during that time.

As founding member and Chair of the Taranaki Employment & Support Foundation Trust (TESFT), she has been the driving force behind the success of the trust, holding a number of roles within it. She has worked tirelessly, often putting in more than 40 hours a week on funding applications and end of year reports. The current projects that Elaine has played a key role in include Volunteering New Plymouth, Taranaki Computer Access Centre Trust and Dress for Success, with funding sourced from the Department of Internal Affairs, New Plymouth District Council, WITT and the Ministry of Social Development.

There have been a number of other community focused projects under the TESFT umbrella including assisting jobseekers over the age of 40, providing support and educational workshops for migrants and helping unemployed youth complete work experience within community organisations, just to name a few.

Elaine’s wealth of knowledge, understanding and empathy for the Taranaki community has led her to be a significant innovator and promoter for Taranaki as a whole.  

Until recently Elaine was also Chair of the Taranaki Festival of the Arts Trust and Taranaki Community Health Trust.

Among other accolades, Elaine was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, she has received a Kiwi Bank Local Hero Award, and earlier this year she was a finalist for the New Zealander of the Year Awards.  Next month she is a finalist for the Women of Influence Award.

Jim Hook (Waitara)

Jim has been involved in the Waitara community for more than 40 years.

Of particular note is the time and effort Jim has put into the Waitara Savage Club. Known as the “fix-it man”, Jim has been a member for 45 years and the “go to” person when things need repairing. Jim was initiated into the Haka Group and also takes part in sketches and songs for the public. Jim now holds the title of Club President.

Jim spends time at the Waitara Salvation Army where, along with his wife Pat, he helps with gardening, preparing items for sale, moving items for display and sorting any problems that may arise. If anything needs doing, Jim will sort it.

For the Waitara Railway Preservation Society, Jim exemplifies what is good in being a multi-tasking volunteer with a no fuss, no bother attitude. Jim has been on the committee and is a train guard. If people show up when they’re not operating, Jim will take them on a motor trolley up and down the line. Jim now has his own little pad, with radio, bench, tea maker and a sign on the door that says “strip joint” – the “strip joint” is used for restoration projects to bring in cash for the society.  TV sets, telephones, electric kettles – Jim will tinker with it.

Jim also received a Volunteer Service Award in 2014.

Kit Lea (NP)

Kit has shared her time and skills with the community for more than 30 years.

During that time Kit has put her avid knitting skills to good use by tirelessly creating beautiful singlets, cardigans, hats, booties and blankets for the babies of the neonatal unit at New Plymouth hospital. Kit has mostly purchased the wool herself and knitted these garments that, not only keep the small babies warm, but help the families too. There have been hundreds of babies and families who have benefitted from Kit’s knitting as they have come through the unit.

Kit joined the Waitara Lioness Club in 1987 as a charter member and, through natural attrition, was part of the Merrilands Lions and is now with the Bell Block and District Lions Club. Kit has held many positions within the club throughout the years and, in April this year, received her 30 year service Chevron Award.

Kit is unassuming and carries on doing the things she loves to do.

Katrina McNab (Lepperton)

Kat has provided support to the Lepperton and Waitara communities for more than 10 years.

Affectionately known as “Hurricane Katrina”, Kat volunteers tirelessly and has endless energy. She manages to stir many helpers into action to make things happen. Kat is not afraid of hard work and will happily roll up her sleeves to get stuck in to anything that needs doing.  

Over her many years on the Home & School Committee, Kat has raised significant funds for the school, as well as organising calf day and lawnmower racing. Kat helps cook school lunches every second Wednesday, has coached sports teams and transported children to different events throughout the district.

Within other parts of the community, Kat assists with the running of weekend events for children with special needs, providing interaction with other children and respite for parents. Running school holiday programmes and organising Lepperton schoolchildren to raise funds to purchase Christmas presents for those less fortunate, form part of the continuing support Kat provides to the community.

Maureen Lonsdale (New Plymouth)

For more than 40 years, Maureen has devoted herself unstintingly to the service of people in Taranaki who have diabetes.

Maureen began her work supporting and counselling diabetic patients on a voluntary basis. Over the years Maureen has developed and widened the scope of her activities in the field of diabetes education and promotion.  

Maureen has been a major instigator and support person of Diabetes Taranaki, Diabetes Youth Taranaki and holiday camps for children with diabetes. Her innovative ideas have received nationwide recognition and she is often consulted by national organisations. Her activities have encompassed all ages and all population groups affected by this major and increasing health problem.

Maureen has always made herself available, providing an invaluable and reassuring support service. In retirement she continues to provide this support in all aspects relating to diabetes.  

Maureen has been involved with, and is a life member of, Diabetes New Zealand and has received the Diabetes New Zealand Volunteer Award.

Maureen has also been involved with basketball, the Mothers Union and theatre. Her goals have been, and are still, helping people. 

Terry Parkes (NP)

Serving the community stems from Terry’s love for the region and the people who live here.

As a doer, Terry gets in and gives his support. Whether it’s sponsorship, support for the visual and performing arts, saving of a significant historical building, support for the hospital and the services it delivers, business and art mentoring, or feeding school children in need of lunches, Terry is at the forefront and often working quietly behind the scenes.

Terry is a passionate advocate for the region and spends personal time ensuring visitors experience the cultural highlights of the region, through itineraries he has put together. Visitors depart New Plymouth as champions for the region.

Always ready to jump in behind a cause and he has the ability to encourage others to follow suit. His passion and interests are not contained to one sector and, with Terry involved, things tend to happen and quickly.

To name a few, Terry is involved with the WITT Advisory Group, Lotteries Commission, Art in Public Places, Taranaki Arts Festival, Tropfest, WOMAD, Garden Spectacular, Taranaki Health Foundation, Govett-Brewster Foundation and prominent fundraising the for Len Lye Centre.

Terry’s service to the community is far-reaching and continues to extend into many areas.

Neil Sulzberger (New Plymouth)

Taranaki cricket has had the pleasure of Neil’s services for more than 50 years. Player, club secretary, selector, board member, coach and chairman are just a few of the roles that Neil has held within the sport.

Neil’s contribution to cricket at both the national and international level has been tremendous.  For 20 years Neil volunteered his time as Chairman of the Taranaki Cricket Association, only retiring last year. Earlier this year he was honoured with receipt of the Bert Sutcliffe Medal for Outstanding Service to NZ Cricket.

Tirelessly supporting the cricket ground at Pukekura Park, Neil has personally managed the majority of matches held at the ground in recent years. He has been responsible for ensuring the continuation and growth of first class cricket at this venue and, largely through his efforts, a number of T20 and 50-over semi-finals and finals have been held at the park.

Neil was the prime mover behind the building of the Sulzberger Indoor Cricket Centre, which is situated in New Plymouth and is a tremendous asset for the district.

Promotion of cricket in the schools programme, promotion of coaching for secondary school and age group representative teams, and fostering a close association with New Plymouth Boys’ High School and Francis Douglas Memorial College are just a few of the other ways that Neil has supported the Taranaki Cricket Association and the district.

Clair Tart (Waitara)

Clair has made a significant contribution to the Waitara High School community and Taranaki Cancer Society through her involvement in the school’s Relay for Life team.

The success and longevity of the Waitara High School team is attributed to Clair’s enthusiasm and her driving force to enter a team each year, since the relay began.  

The relay teams have raised more than $25,000 since 2010 for the Cancer Society and earned “Dream Team” status three times, which is no mean feat! To achieve the title the team needs to have raised more than $5,000 per relay and in 2016 Waitara High School was one of only four teams out of 63 to achieve this.

Clair teaches the students that raising money for a cause like this is important, and it feels good to do something completely selfless. The students realise that they are making a difference to the lives of people they may have never met.

Preparation for the event is months in the making. Clair is camp mum, taxi driver, secretary, treasurer, cook and team manager. She also creates promotional material and supports students in the clean-up of the venue and performing the haka.

Clair is the classic example of a teacher going the extra mile for her students, setting them on the path of thinking about others.