Hero for Hikurangi hailed in honours

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The 2016 Whangarei Civic Honours Awards honoured citizens who, through leadership and devotion, have made a significant contribution to the Whangarei District. This year’s recipients were Rosemary Waters, Stuart Clark, Jeff D’Ath and Tony Solomon. They were honoured at a ceremony in the Whangarei District Council chambers last Thursday.
Stuart Blair Clark.
Stuart Blair Clark.

Stuart Blair Clark

Mr Clark is recognised for his extensive contribution to the people and place of Hikurangi.

Born and raised in Auckland, Mr Clark moved to Hikurangi in 1983, immediately immersing himself in the community and embarking on a life of service that continues to this day.

A sizeable part of that involves the Waro Lake Scenic Reserve.

Mr Clark was a founding member of the Friends of Waro Lake, and in 2013 generously swapped pieces of his own land for Whangarei District Council land, making it possible for the public to gain improved access to the Yvonne Stewart Memorial Walkway and giving young people better access to the Waro rock, from which they enjoy jumping into the lake on summer days.

Part of a team consisting of locals, council staff and businesses, Mr Clark has participated in a large number of activities aimed at developing and maintaining the lake over the past 15 years, and spends many hours clearing graffiti, vegetation and rubbish from the reserve.

So great has Mr Clark's contribution been to this natural treasure, that he is now affectionately known around Hikurangi as the kaitiaki, or guardian, of the lake.

Each day presents an opportunity for Mr Clark to contribute to his community, often with an early start. Before going to work on weekday mornings, he helps prepare breakfast for the children of Hikurangi School, giving them a sound and happy start to the day.

He has been assisting with the school's Breakfast Club since its beginning, and no child is ever turned away, even if it means Mr Clark starts work late. During breakfast he also makes a point of chatting with the children to identify any needs or problems they may have.

Youth also benefit from Mr Clark's involvement with the Tornado Youth Community Trust. He has helped to organise and run many of their activities, and also teaches driving skills to those who wouldn't otherwise get the chance. He has taken groups of young locals to an ice skating rink in Whangarei, roller discos, the beach, Dargaville Field Days and on birthday excursions and helps with school holiday programmes.

Mr Clark was a founding member of the government-funded Healthy Hikurangi Leading for Outcomes project, an initiative that eventually morphed into the Healthy Hikurangi Trust to which he gave generously of his time in support of its various activities.

Through his church, Mr Clark helps out when families or the elderly need assistance. Using the church van he takes local youth and a range of gardening equipment to help address overgrown gardens, and has been a longstanding member of the Hikurangi Good News Club, a weekly interdenominational Christian programme teaching children aged 7 to 11.

He is known for his compassionate and giving nature, which has seen him use his own resources to assist anyone in need, whenever and wherever he is able.

That includes driving members of the Hikurangi community to appointments, collecting kindling for those without transport and even taking families to the coast to collect kai moana, when they can't get there under their own steam.

Through his tireless and selfless efforts, and without any thought of reward or recognition, Stuart Clark has enriched his home of Hikurangi and made it a better place to live, work and play.

He is a shining example of community spirit and service in action.

- Northern Advocate

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