Everyday people doing exceptional things were the toast of the town last Thursday night as Taranaki honoured its very own "Local Heroes" at the annual Kiwibank Local Hero Awards.

As part of the 2019 New Zealander of the Year Awards, the 23 Kiwibank Local Heroes were presented with medals to recognise their achievements at a ceremony at Devon Hotel.

New Plymouth Deputy Mayor Richard Jordan presented the medals and congratulated the recipients on their awards.

"Our region's 23 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.

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"The awards continue to be the perfect opportunity for our community to acknowledge these people and their efforts in making Taranaki a better place to live," he said.
Startford residents Kerry Mramor and Allister Thomas were among those honoured on the night.

Both Kerry and Allister received Startford Citizens Awards earlier this year.

Allister's local hero award was to recognise his involvement in Taranaki hockey for most of his life as a player, coach, umpire and administrator.

He has coached at all levels of the game for more than 25 years and has trained and mentored other umpires. He is also chairman of the Taranaki Hockey Federation board.

Kerry was recognised for more than 30 years of community work which began when she was a board member at St Joseph's School in Stratford. She has been involved with many community organisations, including St Vincent De Paul, Stratford Foodbank and the Stratford Table Tennis Club.

Kerry has also been an active member of the Catholic Church, organising social gatherings for the elderly.

Mary Tipler of Eltham was recognised as well. She was involved with Rawhitiroa Women's Division for three decades, supporting young mothers. She has also helped run the Rawhitiroa Swimming Club and fundraised for Rawhitiroa Primary School.

Mary has also volunteered with many organisations, including giving 50 years' service to Fitzroy Catholic Church as well as teaching floral art and judging competitions for the Taranaki Floral Art Club.

Now in its 10th year, the Kiwibank Local Hero Awards are New Zealand's premier community awards, celebrating and honouring those who have made a positive contribution to their region, town, suburb or community.

This year, 322 medals will be presented nationwide with one New Zealand Local Hero of the Year winner announced at the New Zealander of the Year Awards Gala in February next year.

Kiwibank CEO Steve Jurkovich said the Local Hero awards always held a special place in the hearts of the bank's staff.

"These medal recipients are the unsung heroes whose selflessness, optimism and commitment has had a profound effect on the lives of so many in the community. Yet in the rush of day-to-day lives, we can sometimes forget to properly acknowledge just how special these people are.

"That's why we have the Local Heroes awards — it's the community's way of honouring and saying thanks to these fine people."

The Kiwibank Local Heroes for Taranaki were:

Suzy Allen (New Plymouth); Teri Tamati (Waitara); Lionel Shaw (Hawera); Allister Thomas (Stratford); Robyn Watkins (New Plymouth); Darrin West (Inglewood); Karen Schumacher (Inglewood); Bob Schumacher (Inglewood); Grant Roger Downes (Inglewood); David Leask (New Plymouth); Bruce Findlay (Waitara); Lorraine Williamson (Opunake); John Rust (New Plymouth); Rex Gyde (Inglewood); Melva Gyde (Inglewood); Margaret McCall (New Plymouth); Michelle Ramage (New Plymouth); Paul Russell (New Plymouth); Joy Russell (New Plymouth); Mary Tipler (Eltham); Kerry Mramor (Stratford); Alison Cole (New Plymouth); Pereni Belle Tupe (Waitara).