Seventeen Bay of Plenty residents have been honoured for their services to the community at the 2018 local Kiwibank Local Hero Awards.
As part of the 2019 New Zealander of the Year Awards, Tauranga deputy mayor Kelvin Clout presented the recipients with medals at Classic Flyers Museum on Wednesday night.
In a written statement, Clout said: "Our region's 17 local heroes demonstrate the acts of charity, commitment and selflessness which is what holds a community together."
"Many of these individuals are inspiring members of our community who have all uniquely touched the lives of others," he said.
The heroes are:
- Noel Kelly, from Mount Maunganui, known as the "Pillar of Hawea St" has made an invaluable contribution to community and Arataki Kindergarten. Kelly was the groundskeeper of the kindergarten for more than 40 years until he reached the age of 90 and on odd weekends can still be found at the kindergarten weeding.
- Rupal Mehta, vice chairwoman of the Shakti Tauranga Ethnic Women's Support Group, who for more than 14 years has spent thousands of volunteer hours supporting family violence victims.
- Oropi's Melvern Wainright, a highly respected leader involved with volunteer emergency groups, including Youth Search and Rescue Tauranga and Oropi Fire Brigade.
- Viv Jones, Mount Maunganui, for her tireless work with the Macular Degeneration New Zealand, which she founded nine years ago. Jones has raised more than $167,000 for the cause.
- Lisa Sarsfield, Gate Pa, has been the St John Ambulance Service Youth Volunteer division manager for more than four years. She also makes care packages for the homeless and the women's refuge.
- Beachhaven Family support services manager Gale Gordon from Te Puke has spent a lifetime helping those in need, including being foster mum to 52 children.
- Tauranga's Tracey Carlton her tireless efforts in leading and running the community response to homelessness in Tauranga with "Street Kai" and for helping people find proper housing.
- Gaelene Falconer, Tauranga, has been the Bay of Plenty and Central Plateau facilitator of the Look Good Feel Better organisation supporting cancer patients for more than 18 years.
- Mount Maunganui's Su Hodkinson has spent years working as a social worker, supervisor and care protection co-ordinator at Child, Youth and Family. Known as Rubbish Womble, Hodkinson carries rubbish bags with her nearly everywhere she goes, helping keep the streets of Mount Maunganui clean and green.
- Ian Shearer, Whakatane, has worn many hats, including being a pioneering research scientist, former cabinet minister, acting director of Waitangi Tribunal, and Whakatane district councillor.
- Former Crusty Demons member and Youth Encounters founder Mary Wanhill from Tauranga for Youth Encounters, a dirt biking programme for youths aged 11 to 24 years lacking purpose, struggling at school and/or marginalised.
- Anchor AIMS Games coach Sharon Horne from Mount Maunganui for her dedication to helping students develop confidence and become better people. She also tutors Kapa Haka and Pacifika students.
- Hailey Trappitt from Tauranga has been recognised as one of the youth ambassadors travelling with Mike King on his nationwide 2018 I AM HOPE tour.
- Kiwi-Bianca McLeod-Ohia, leader of Tamapahore Marae, for her achievements as a player and coach of several netball teams.
- Kirsti Kay, Tauranga, a horse riding instructor, local riding for the disabled coach and ambulance paramedic, who flew to Christchurch to help find lost people under the rubble during the city's earthquakes.
- Orchardist Graham Dyer uses his skills to beautify the parks in Tauranga and has selflessly gifted a collection of kauri trees to the development of Sydenham Botanic Park.
- Lance Campbell, head instructor of the Katikati's Global Jiu Jitsu Academy, for teaching Katikati youth, often unpaid.
Kiwibank chief executive Steve Jurkovich said the awards honoured and thanked people who made a huge difference in their communities.
This year 322 medals will be presented nationwide with one New Zealand Local Hero of the Year winner announced at a gala event in February next year.