A group responsible for the recovery of a local pa has taken out the top prize in the 2012 TrustPower Western Bay of Plenty Community Awards.
Pirirakau Incorporated Society won the Supreme Award at the awards ceremony in Te Puke last night.
Pirirakau received a framed certificate, a trophy and $1500 prize money. The society now has the opportunity to represent the Western Bay at the national awards, which will be held in the Far North District in March next year. TrustPower community relations co-ordinator Suzi Luff said Pirirakau was proof that through nurturing relationships community dreams could become a reality.
"This group mobilised the wider Te Puna community to restore and protect Ongarahu Pa, within Huharua Park. Located at the tip of Plummers Point, it holds some of the oldest and best preserved defensive earthworks in the North Island," she said.
After approaching Maori Television's 'Marae DIY' to film the restoration of the Pa, the group had 32 weeks to organise the project. The actual physical work took place over four days with over 200 volunteers who helped restore the site, including an ancient trench, building a bridge for the entrance, a shelter, and palisade fencing around the pa trench and across the front of the urupa.
Tommy Kapai, of the Pirirakau Incorporated Society, said it was an honour and a surprise to win the award.
"It's pretty cool. We sat and we sat [at the ceremony] and thought, 'We're not even runners-up'. And then the big kahuna - we got the big one. It was a surprise. It's a good news story about what you can do when you work together ... [and] what a legacy to leave for our tamariki," he said.
"It [the renovated pa] has always been there. It was a hidden story and now we've put it on the front page."
Supreme: Pirirakau Incorporated Society
Heritage and Environment: Te Puna Quarry Park; Runner-Up: McLaren Falls Environment Enhancement Group
Health and Well Being: Age Concern Accredited Visiting Service; Runner-Up: St John Omokoroa First Response Group
Arts and Culture: Volunteer Western Bay of Plenty; Runner-Up: Katikati Twilight Concerts
Sport and Leisure: Waihi Beach Volunteer Coastguard; Runner-Up: Surf Lifesaving Maketu; Commendation: Katikati Skateboard Club
Education and Child/Youth Development: KickStart Motorbike Ministry; Runner-Up: Friends of Te Ranga School
Special Regional Commendation: Maketu Taiapure Trust