Formerly New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands and MP for the Northland Electorate of New Zealand.


Moving forward together

Thursday 16 February 2017

Recognising our volunteer groups

In this column I often discuss the many ways Council is working to make the Far North a better place to live and work in for everyone. Just as crucial to the task of building a supportive and vibrant community is the volunteer work that individuals and groups undertake each and every day all around New Zealand.

To recognise the invaluable contribution volunteers make to our towns and communities, Council has partnered with Trustpower to present the Trustpower Far North Community Awards.

Since the awards began in 2009, more than $44,000 has been given away to support the work that community groups and organisations undertake. This year more than $5000 is up for grabs in the Far North.

There are five award categories: Heritage and Environment; Health and Wellbeing; Arts and Culture; Sport and Leisure; and Educational and Child/Youth Development. Category winners receive $500, runners-up receive $250 and the Supreme Winner takes home $1500 and an all-expenses paid trip to the 2017 Trustpower National Community Awards.

Each district's Supreme Award winner competes at the Trustpower National Community Awards to be named the National Supreme Winner. In 2015 that honour went to Focus Paihia, which was chosen from among 25 district winners from around New Zealand.

Focus Paihia won the award for its incredible work converting a waterfront car park into a park and village green. This has transformed the waterfront and helped make Paihia the unique attraction it is for visitors and locals alike.

As with all regions in New Zealand, the Far North has its own special identity and often it is our volunteer groups that best express that uniqueness. Focus Paihia managed to do just that, as has the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway Trust. It won the Far North Supreme Award in 2010 and no one could deny that the Trust has helped make Kawakawa the vibrant little town it is today.

Bay Bush Action, which won the Far North Supreme Award last year, reflects how much we love our natural environment in the Far North. Day-in, day-out Bay Bush Action is leading by example, eradicating introduced pests and helping to save the Opua State Forest.

I'm proud of the remarkable volunteer groups we have here in the Far North and I'm happy Council has the opportunity to recognise them through the annual Trustpower Far North Community Awards.

You have until 5pm 31 March to nominate your favourite volunteer group or organisation. You can nominate your own group too. The criteria are simple: the awards are open to all voluntary groups and organisations working to make the District and its towns a better place to live.



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