The annual Flaxmere Heroes Calendar profiles people going above and beyond for their community. Since the initiative was launched in 2010, by the U-Turn Trust and Hastings district councillor and ambassador Henare O'Keefe, more than 100 heroes and heroines have been featured. The calendar has become an anticipated boost for residents and this year is no different. The 2019 calendar, again recognises 18 people for their contribution to a variety of causes.
Both Frank, who died in January, and wife Tangi Jones have been recognised for their sporting achievements both nationally and internationally, but it is their input into the lives of hundreds of children which has seen them featured in the calendar. For more than 40 years, the selfless couple have opened their Flaxmere home in a bid to create a better life for those most in need. Whether it was just for a night, a month, or even years, they have helped more than 300 children lead better lives.
Jacob Poulain was a well-respected member of the Flaxmere community. Originally from Holland, he immigrated to New Zealand in 1964 and became one of the first residents in the Flaxmere community. He would go onto live in the suburb, with his wife and former Hastings district councillor Keriana Poulain for the next 43 years, before his death in September. He was an active member of Flaxmere Age Concern, served as a member of the Flaxmere Licensing Trust for 11 years and was a foundation member and patron of Te Aranga Marae. He was also a strong active campaign manager in both his wife, and later, daughter, Jacoby's council election campaigns. One of his many passions was in honouring his heritage through a mini-museum in his back garden.
Formed in 1989, Pacific Island group Aitutaki Enua has performed at and supported numerous community events. The group's vibrant action-packed cultural show has endeared them to thousands through the decades. Their hard work and dedication to their community was no more evident than when they raised $30,000 for cyclone-hit Cook Islands at the Hastings Municipal Theatre in 2010. As well as putting on their own electric performances, they were able to bring in renowned group Ardijah, as well as top local groups. They've also played at the likes of Matatini, The Big Easy and Waitangi day.
Whether stationed in Flaxmere, Havelock North or under the Hastings CBD clock tower, for more than three decades, until his retirement in July 2016, former Senior Constable Bruce Grimshaw helped the community. When he took the job in 1987, community policing was a new concept, allowing him a blank slate to work from. Since then, he has been awarded the Queens New Zealand Commemoration Medal, along with the New Zealand Police Commissioner's Silver Merit Medal for services to victims of crime in 1990. From 1997 until 2001, Bruce was also a FIFA International football referee, and officiated at a large number of international games including the 1999 under-17 World Championships and at the 2000 Sydney Olympics. But of all his roles during his 33 years with Hastings Police - from a front-line constable to youth education officer - being a Flaxmere community constable has been a career highlight. "It's simply the best community I have ever had the privilege of serving," he notes.
Frank Gerbes is the epitome of what is means to work hard. He was born in 1936 and left school at a young age. But his desire to make something of himself in life saw him get an apprenticeship as a cabinetmaker and carpenter aged only 14. He then went on to
join a travelling show as a general "fix-it" man and during that time met and married wife Violet. Having been children during World War ll and the Great Depression, Frank and Violet knew what it was to struggle. In 1975 they settled in Flaxmere where they started Frank Gerbes Catering Services. They employ people from Flaxmere. Their mantra is: "If we all work together and help each other we can all have a happy community." The couple's generosity is well known. They have helped and supported numerous schools and community events over many years.
Although they are only young, these Flaxmere students show age is just a number. They are all succeeding in different areas of their schooling and have bright futures ahead of them.
Peterhead School, Cazna Jade Johnson-Whakaue leads by example and is an inspiration to others. She is articulate and academically strong, but her real talents are centred in the arts.
As well as being the top academic achiever, Matekairoa held the position of Flaxmere College Head Boy this year and was also a student representative on the Board of Trustees for 2017 and 2018. Matekairoa is determined to succeed and participate through his kura and community.
Irongate School pupil Malachi Waitere is a role-model who embodies the school values of Ako, Manaakitanga, Kotahitanga and Whānaungatanga. Principal, Maurice Rehu says he "constantly enacts our school expectations of: Being Safe; Being Productive and Being Respectful". "Malachi is a confident, articulate, and caring student who continuity strives to be the best he can be." He was Irongate School's 2018 Year 8 Honours student and also received the Citizenship Award and the Arts Award.
Flaxmere Primary School student Dante Taylor excels in everything she participates or competes in. Principal Robyn Isaacson says she is "determined and achieves goals;
an aspirational role model, leads and helps others, trustworthy and works hard and is a nice natured person with a good heart".
Pale Afu is a Year 8 Kimi Ora Community School leader. He is a role model to other students with the strength of character to always make the right choices, even if others around him are not, principal Matt O'Dowda says. He always volunteers to help others and gives 100 per cent to whatever he is doing. He is kind to others and is liked and well respected by everyone.
Since opening in October last year, Shelley Pritchard's Kapai Cuppa Waka has become an important touch-point in her beloved suburb of Flaxmere. With every cup of coffee sold, 10c to 20c is donated to Heart Kids, a topic close to Shelley's heart, as her grandson Christopher Jack is a Heart Kid. People don't only come for the coffee, but also a comforting reassuring word from Shelly to help them on their way. She doesn't consider herself a hero. "It's just really about giving back to our community. The vision that we had with it has come to fruition."
Bay City Church is located on the edge of Flaxmere. Under the stewardship of pastors Dave and Kate Connell, they believe church is more than a service but a community of families from a variety of cultures and backgrounds. The church's Future Kids Preschool, established in1987, has helped many children from Flaxmere and surrounding areas to become great leaders in the home. But their reach has gone far beyond Hawke's Bay, where they impact people around the country and internationally. "We have a heart to carry the presence of God, through the grace and power of the Holy Spirit, to people around us and beyond".
Peleti Oli started off cutting hair in his garage, but now, years later, he is a renowned barber, with numerous accolades to his name. Good friend and fellow Hastings' Boys High School student John Whiunui taught him how to cut hair when they were in Year 11. He went on to teach the skill to brother Someh who later became the barber for the school. And while John and Someh have since died, Peleti is keeping their voices and hands alive through his work. "In their memory I use barbering as the tool to connect with people and to serve them. Each haircut is a touch of John and Someh. Seeing people smile after a haircut lights up my soul. I give thanks to our beautiful people of Flaxmere. Without your love and support, I wouldn't be here today."
Taurus Taurima has turned his life around. After a few years managing a small roading firm, Taurus launched his own company, Top Line Contracting, in 2016. He was told he would never make it and would be bankrupt in six months. "They could have been right and the odds were stacked against me", Taurus says. But living in Flaxmere as a young man and being raised by a solo mother who taught him the value of a good work ethic stood him in good stead. Two years later, his company employs 19 staff in permanent jobs. Ninety per cent of the office staff live in Flaxmere, as do 90 per cent of the labour force. TLC is now a recognisable and trusted company in Hawke's Bay.
Jeremy Tatere MacLeod has a passion for his native tongue and culture. He was born and raised in Australia to Māori parents who had migrated there in the late 1970s. But at the age of 17, he decided to connect with his culture in New Zealand. Eleven years later he has been charged with the role of director of the Māori language revitalisation strategy for Ngati Kahungunu Iwi Inc. For eight years he has led the revitalisation of te reo Māori from Te Mahia to Wairarapa. He has earned a BA (Hons) Māori, an MA (Māori), BMPA, and is a registered translator. Jeremy is currently studying at Waikato University towards his PHD.
He and wife Te Rina also run Te Kohanga Reo o Mere Karena from their home in Caernarvon Drive, Flaxmere and are raising two bilingual sons, which will make their youngest son the first native Māori language speaker in six generations.
At the age of 21, Parehuia started to write her first novel. Her book Where Creatures Hide ranked number four on the 2018 Showstopper VIP list of must reads. Growing up in Flaxmere has taught Parehuia the arts of humility and humbleness and she gives back to her community through running writing workshops at Flaxmere schools.
Her mantra is "it doesn't matter where you come from or what you have; what matters most is what you choose to do with it".