It's all about community for Tikokinos Mike Harrison who has been nominated for this years inaugural Pride of New Zealand Awards.
The chief fire officer for the Tikokino Volunteer Fire Brigade, Mr Harrison said he was surprised to hear he had been nominated for his tireless efforts to ensure the station is well-equipped and ready to respond to emergency calls.
Mr Harrison first became a volunteer firefighter in Napier more than 31 years ago and was a full-time firefighter in Napier before he moved to Tikokino in 1998, where he set up his business, Vortex, manufacturing portable fire-fighting pumps.
While still commuting to Napier for his duty shifts at that time, he also joined the Tikokino brigade to help out with training and other tasks.
As his business grew, he resigned from the Napier station to give more time to it and focused his volunteering efforts on the Tikokino brigade where he was subsequently promoted to chief fire officer.
When Mr Harrison took over as chief, Tikokino had a one-truck station, situated in a tiny run-down shed.
A new station was later built, which Mr Harrison had a hand in designing and building, and then he turned his thoughts towards getting a water tanker for the brigade.
He spent many hours working on making that happen, including getting behind fundraising for the extra vehicle, which is now often dispatched to fire callouts throughout Central Hawkes Bay.
He then decided that the Tikokino station also needed an Emergency Response Vehicle to be able to attend to medical calls in the local area.
Once again he set out and helped raise the funds, and now Tikokino has two trucks and the four-wheel drive ute which is fully equipped with medical supplies, including a scoop stretcher and a defribulator.
The Tikokino brigade covers a large area and responding to a call in a 27-year-old fire truck was slow and tedious, he said.
"It was a big task to raise the money and the brigade wasn't really sure what the outcome would be, but now we can respond immediately without having to wait for a HT driver to arrive, and the vehicle is four-wheel drive so getting access on to rural properties is a lot easier."
Hes moved his business to Napier now, but still lives in Tikokino, where he remains devoted to the station, not only working a 40-hour week in the city, but also attending emergency calls when he is at home.
His nomination noted he was not only a great asset to the Tikokino Fire Station, but with his wealth of knowledge of fire fighting he was also an asset to the Tikokino community.
He was also said to be a kind and supportive person who always thanked his team of volunteers for their efforts.
"Being in a fire brigade it is all about helping the community. I guess that's where my passion lies, making sure we have all the good gear and equipment to help people," Mr Harrison said.
The Pride of New Zealand Awards is a joint venture with The Hits radio station and TSB Bank, supported by the Herald and APN regional newspapers.
There are six categories honouring bravery and heroism, community spirit, lifetime achievement, emergency services, top fundraisers and those making a difference for the environment. Nominations are open until June 15.
For more information and to nominate, visit prideofnzawards.co.nz