The chairman of a trust that helped set up many notable Tauranga projects and charities has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Tauranga lawyer Michael Cooney has chaired Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust (TECT) since 2001- three years after he was elected as a trustee.

TECT distributes about $6 million a year from its TrustPower dividends to community organisations and was pivotal in funding the Waipuna Hospice, the TECT All Terrain Park, the ASB Arena and the Baywave Aquatic and Leisure Centre.

It sponsors the TrustPower TECT Rescue Helicopter and Tauranga Coastguard's rescue vessel. Mr Cooney said his most satisfying contribution had been having a hand in the establishment of Aquinas College.


"It has been something that was a wonderful privilege."

From having been on the school's establishment board, he now contributed to the school's future by being a trustee.

"The opportunity to work with young people, and advance their careers, is a wonderful thing to take part in."

Mr Cooney has been a director of TrustPower since 2002 and also spent more than 30 years as Coroner for Tauranga and the rest of the Western Bay of Plenty.

He was a founding member of the Life Education Trust in the Western of Plenty and is chairman of Equality Bay of Plenty - a charitable trust offering support for people with disabilities.

Mr Cooney is a member of the Catholic Diocese of Hamilton which covers the Bay of Plenty, and has served as chairman of the St Mary's School's board of trustees.

He said the community needed to work to ensure Tauranga's future remained strong.

"Tauranga is endowed with a wonderful climate and it has natural attractions, but we need to build the economic basis to have a vibrant future for own children. That is what we all have to work on. The whole community needs to be thinking about how we can improve the economic wellbeing of all our residents."

Mr Cooney said he was embarrassed by the New Year Honour, saying his activities gave him a good view of the many wonderful people who worked in the community without any thought of recognition.