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


Moving forward together

Thursday 22 June 2017

Honouring the extraordinary

I have lived almost my entire life in the Far North and I remain constantly impressed by the number of very talented experts, leaders and advocates we produce here. These people can be our neighbours, colleagues or friends, and invariably they are very modest about their accomplishments.

They shrug-off praise and say they were just doing their job, or credit their achievements to team members. This may be partly true, but we all recognise something special when we see it.

There are those among us whose enthusiasm, focus and leadership inspires us all. These people make a real difference, creating change for those around them and for their wider community.

Sometimes they have a global impact. Two of these outstanding members of the Far North community were named recently in the Queen's Birthday Honours list.

Marara Kaweora Te Tai Hook was honoured with a Queen's Service Medal for her longstanding support to Maori, while Caroline Harriette Eliza (Moe) Milne was named an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM). She received this for her significant contributions to Maori and to health services.

Reading the dedications for these two remarkable Maori women reminded me once again how the Far North is blessed by leaders such as these. Marara has been heavily involved in her home Marae of Te Rawhiti for many years and has also contributed her talents to two very important Auckland marae - Te Mahurehure Marae in Pt Chevalier and Hoani Waititi Marae in West Auckland.

Meanwhile, Moe has made significant contributions nationally to Maori health research and practice. She has been active in the International Network of Indigenous Health Knowledge and Development, sharing her experience and knowledge with a global audience. Moe has also been a member of the Maori committee of the Royal Australia and New Zealand College of Psychiatrists for almost 20 years.

I think it's important to publically acknowledge and honour the outstanding achievements of others. Honours like these demonstrate to the individuals involved how much we value their efforts, but they also reaffirm the ideals and principles we as a community want to promote.

We do that in our own way in the Far North with the Citizen Awards. Each year we recognise the extraordinary volunteer work that ordinary people undertake to contribute to the wellbeing of all of our citizens. Nominations for the Far North Citizen Awards open again soon, so I want to ask that you give some thought to who should be recognised this year.

The criteria is simple: the person must have made a considerable contribution to the Far North District and its citizens over a significant period of time; their efforts must have been unpaid; and they must be a resident of the district at the time of nomination. I look forward to these awards every year. The ceremony at Te Ahu is one more opportunity to be impressed by my community and the people of the Far North.



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