Today we reveal Gavin Hayes as The Daily Post Person of the Year. He was chosen out of a standout group of people who were nominated for the title. Here are the other finalists:
Ryan and Keri Topperwien
Whakatane couple Ryan and Keri Topperwien were named The Daily Post People of the Month for March for the great lengths they went to help their 3-year-old son Chace. He was diagnosed with a rare and aggressive form of leukaemia just days before turning 2 and was in and out of hospitals, undergoing a stem cell transplant after no bone marrow matches could be found for him. The Whakatane toddler and his parents went to London for Chace to undergo four rounds of a $440,000 drug trial. The Topperwiens had to make the heartbreaking decision to bring their son home as rising pain levels showed his disease was advancing. Chace died in June with his parents by his side and his parents have since set up the Dream Chaser Foundation to help families of children with cancer.
Ryan Heremaia was named The Daily Post Person of the Month for April for rescuing elderly, sick man Ron Rolfe. The 16-year-old was among youths who went to the aid of Mr Rolfe after he fell into the Ngongotaha stream and ended up neck-deep in water while out walking his dog, Didget. Mr Rolfe went public about his ordeal in an effort to track down those who rescued him. "First I tried to pull him out by his hand but he was stuck, so I put my arms under his arms and still couldn't get him out. I just pulled real hard and got him on to my shoulder and pushed him up the bank,'' Ryan told The Daily Post.
Rotorua's Clare Smith didn't want her sister's death to be in vain. Mrs Smith's sister, Paula Jessep, died on December 22 last year and police have said she was texting before her car crashed. Mrs Smith, who was named The Daily Post Person of the Month for February, now wants to speak out about the dangers of texting and driving in a bid to prevent a similar event from happening to another family. She also wanted to speak to schools about the dangers of texting and driving.
Detective Inspector Mark Loper
The Rotorua police officer was named The Daily Post Person of the Month for January after leading several high-profile cases. It started early December 2011 with the arrest of a Rotorua 71-year-old Menzies Hallett who is accused of the murder of Rodney Tahu at Turangi in 1969, and then escorting Hui "Leo'' Gao back from Hong Kong to face charges relating to $10 million which was accidentally put into his bank account. Mr Loper then led the investigation into the brutal sexual assault of a 5-year-old girl at a Turangi campground and led the investigation into the murder of Polish man Roman Skorek at Kuirau Park in January.
Rotorua's Bea Yates loves helping people in the community. Mrs Yates, affectionately known as Aunty Bea, was The Daily Post Person of the Month for June for her giving spirit. In May she appeared at Waiariki Institute of Technology's staff training day, The Best of Both Worlds, where she helped with the theme of biculturalism. She donated the fee she would normally charge to Te Whakapono Health Trust while Waiariki acting chief executive Keith Ikin matched her effort. Aunty Bea was instrumental in setting up Te Whakapono Health Trust _ a trust established specifically to fundraise and support health issues of consequence for the Rotorua region. She not only donates money to the trust but often donates her fees or holds gigs where she impersonates Tina Turner to raise money for other groups, including the Cancer Society. A few people contacted The Daily Post nominating Aunty Bea as the Person of the Year.
Linley Parry hopes the annual Rotorua Supper Club will become bigger and better as the years go on. Mrs Parry was named The Daily Post Person of the Month for May for her efforts behind the scenes organising the event, which raises money to keep the Ronald McDonald Family Retreat at Ngongotaha operating. The retreat is a lakeside holiday home for seriously ill children and their families. The retreat costs $60,000 each year to operate and this year the Rotorua Supper Club raised more than $53,000. It was the third year the Supper Club had been held. In 2010, it raised $27,000 and last year almost $32,000.
Every few days Rotorua's Selena Mahe visits 82-year-old Gavin Hayes to check up on him. She felt sorry for Mr Hayes after his ordeal in October when a teenage girl stole and wrote off his car. He said he lost the will to live when it happened. Miss Mahe, was The Daily Post Person of the Month for October for the huge efforts she went to behind the scenes to help Mr Hayes. After reading the story about Mr Hayes' ordeal in The Daily Post, Miss Mahe contacted car rental firm Rent-a-Dent to organise the loan of a car for Mr Hayes. She was on her way to deliver the loan car when the firm's head office contacted her and said they would give Mr Hayes a new car. Miss Mahe also contacted Arawa Auto Electrical, which installed a car alarm donated by Dynatron. Two women, Michelle Hope and Rach Bennett, set up the Facebook page Gift for Gav to initially raise money to buy Mr Hayes a new car. Miss Mahe became part of that fundraiser and the more than $4000 raised was used to buy Mr Hayes household items.
Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic coach Noeline Taurua was The Daily Post Person of the Month for July for helping the Waikato Bay of Plenty Magic become the first New Zealand team to win the ANZ Championship. Taurua described herself as a ``spoke in the wheel'' and someone who provided the direction while every member of the team had to take a leadership role for their own product on the court. She said winning the ANZ Championship was a ``great buzz'' but the journey to get there was even bigger, particularly after losing the first four games before their winning streak began.
Whakatane's Lisa Carrington was named The Daily Post Person of the Month for August for her outstanding kayaking achievements when she came first in the K1 200m final and won gold at the London Olympics _ a day she described as one of the best in her life. A recent Colmar Brunton poll of more than 1000 Kiwis voted Carrington's and Mahe Drysdale's gold medal wins as the best medal moments of the 2012 London Olympics. In a Daily Post online poll of more than 300 people Carrington's gold medal win was most popular. Carrington would like to defend her title at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro.
Rotorua teacher aide Susan Freeman just wants 6-year-old Samson Smith, who has cerebral palsy, to be able to do what other children can do. Ms Freeman was The Daily Post Person of the Month for September for the work she did in getting the Western Heights Primary School student a specialised tricycle. Samson suffered a brain haemorrhage during birth resulting in the debilitating illness spastic diplegia (cerebral palsy). Ms Freeman worked with Samson 13 hours a week and thought he was deserving of the trike. Ms Freeman applied to the Wilson Home Trust for funding and sought support letters from various people to be included in the application. The trust agreed to fund the $1650 trike, which was made for Samson by New Zealand Trikes' Brian Gilbert _ a former coach of the Paralympian cycling team _ and future Rio de Janeiro Paralympian hopeful George Thomas.
Rotorua 18-year-old Jordi Webber has been nominated for The Daily Post Person of the Year after he went from an acting student to a recording artist after being selected as one of six members of the boy band Titanium. Their first single Come On Home debuted at number one on the New Zealand Singles Chart in September and went platinum.
For some time, Tony Bradley had a vision of creating a new development to bring new business to the city _ and he's weeks away from seeing that vision completed. Mr Bradley was The Daily Post Person of the Month for November for trying to help develop and bring in new business to Rotorua. He is the developer of the upmarket complex at the intersection of Te Ngae and Tarawera Rds, the new Redwood Centre shopping complex, which will see most of its stores open their doors early next year.
Rotorua police officer Constable Colin Fraser risked his life to rescue a man from a burning house. The 49-year-old father of two was The Daily Post Person of the Month for December for his bravery and quick thinking. Police, fire and ambulance crews were called to a house on Pererika St about 4pm on Tuesday after reports there was a fire at the property. Mr Fraser ran down the property's driveway, looked through the ranch slider and could see a man standing by the kitchen sink. He ran into the house past the fire with flames as high as the ceiling and dragged the man out. The man was taken to hospital with a scrape on his arm and a superficial burn to his leg.
Rotorua Coroner Wallace Bain has been nominated for The Daily Post Person of the Year for highlighting issues that struck a chord with our readers in 2012. He has repeatedly warned parents about the dangerous practice of co-sleeping or bed sharing with a young baby, telling them never to do it. Dr Bain also called for a new ``clearly understood'' law to deal with text and cyber bullying following the death of 15-year-old Hayley-Ann Fenton. He found that Hayley-Anne took her life as the result of receiving vicious, bullying texts. Last week Dr Bain warned people to adhere to the safety rules during water sport activities and avoid possible manslaughter charges if someone is killed following the death of Andrew Wroe on Lake Ohakuri in January this year.
Susan Birch was nominated for The Daily Post Person of the Year for the work she does in encouraging people to develop fitness as part of their lifestyle. She is one of the owners of Truefit Gym and is a fitness trainer. She also encourages motivation and self-discipline in controlling weight loss. Ms Birch gives herself tirelessly to members of the community who realise they need help. She has been described as a perfect role model, a mentor and coach. She delivers a no-frills system that concentrates on delivering exercise in a cost-effective and motivating way.
Rotorua-based BayTrust Rescue Helicopter pilot Barry Vincent was nominated for the amount of work he does for the community. Many nights, when most are comfortable in their beds, the helicopter can be heard flying overhead on a mission. Mr Vincent is always available when needed, day or night. Most of his help is connected to a lot of traumas and very difficult situations.