Any society is only as good as the efforts of its citizens and Whangārei is imbued with many community-minded people who donate so much of their time to help others.
Every year Whangārei District Council honours residents who have been recognised for their outstanding work in the community by receiving Civic Honours awards.
The 2020 awards were handed out at a ceremony last night and four worthy citizens - Betty Hooper, Rosie Sanderson, John Shanks and Terry Ward - were honoured for their selfless service to the community.
A Civic Honour is the highest award the council gives its citizens. Up to four are handed out every year to people who, by their personal leadership, inspiration, sacrifice or devotion to a cause, have made a significant contribution to the district's wellbeing.
Today we focus on our Civic Honour recipients and the reasons why the council awarded them.
Lily May Hooper (Betty)Hooper is known and loved for her enthusiasm, vitality and creativity. She has given her heart, mind and soul to working with children in health and education.
Born in 1920 in East Sussex, Hooper has had a love of children all her life, even though she had none of her own. Her dream was to become a teacher, but at 14 years old she was placed in a job as a live-in maid.
For the early part of her life, she worked several maid jobs before taking a role at the local post office.
When World War II broke out, Hooper ended up in the office of a factory that was building bombs for the war.
She then applied for a role as a teacher for IHC students. After two interviews she got the job to teach about 20 students aged between 4 and 28.
This was a turning point for Hooper, who had finally found a way to express her love for children and education.
Hooper came to New Zealand in 1968 on a ship with her husband Joe and her mother.
Making their home in Western Hills Drive, Whangārei, they bought a goat to keep the lawn down but soon saw potential in making a living from milking goats.
Tragedy struck in 1974 when Joe died suddenly, before the couple could build up the goat farm they'd planned. Eventually Hooper did create a farm, becoming the first person in Northland with a permit to sell raw goat milk.
She soon found a way to share her teaching skills, becoming a special needs educator at Blomfield Special School. She has also had a big impact on students at Hikurangi Primary School, where she helped with their reading for several years.
Recently Hooper celebrated her 100th birthday at the school, and the hall filled with her friends and local community.
Throughout this time of teaching and helping children, Hooper tirelessly researched children's health, committing more than 30 years of her life to researching the effects of food colourings, additives and chemicals on children's learning.
She has presented nationally and locally, and has been interviewed on the radio in New Zealand and overseas. She has visited Cuba twice, speaking to a professor of nutrition at the hospital and visiting schools.
A renowned craftswoman - silk screen artist, spinner, dressmaker and fabric artist - Hooper has exhibited her silk paintings and taught silk screen painting in America.
The Co-op Village Store in Hikurangi has created the "Betty Hooper Room", for her to sell her work. She still sits a few times a week to converse with people about her work and about health.
Hooper is a very positive and practical woman who has put much of her life's energy into helping others.
Her love is the most uncritical, non judgmental wonderful thing, she is a force of positivity. All who meet her love her. Betty Hooper is a living treasure.
Shanks has dedicated his life serving others through acts of volunteering, fundraising, coaching and mentoring.
One of the longest serving, most respected rugby referees in New Zealand, Shanks served in the Auckland, Hauraki and 3 RNZIR (Auckland, North) Territorial Regiments for 18 years, achieving the rank of Major. He has been a Rotarian for 30 years, acting as club president among other leadership positions, and is a Paul Harris Fellow.
He is still an active member of the Whangārei South Club today, and has served on many community volunteer groups.
Shanks is married to Olive and they have raised a family of three children and have three grandchildren.
His working life has been in education, teaching initially in the Waikato and Auckland before coming to Waimate North as principal in 1964. He completed his BA in 1965, then moved to Whangārei in September 1968 where he was deputy principal at Tikipunga Primary and Kamo Intermediate and then principal at Morningside and finally at Horahora.
His style of principalship ensured that children, staff and parents felt valued.
He influenced the careers and lives of many through his inspiring leadership.
Shanks was the proud recipient of a prestigious Fulbright Scholarship, which let him teach the 1974-5 year at Rio Lindo School, Oxnard, California.
He has had an extensive involvement in the Whangārei Primary Schools' Sports Association, the Whangārei Principals' Association and the NZEI, Te Riu Roa.
On retirement in 1993, Shanks, with a small group of retired principals, became involved in arranging luncheons for retired teachers and principals. He has MC'd these events for more than 10 years, which has been greatly appreciated by those who participate.
He became involved in the Lonsdale Park Outdoor Education Centre in 1979, holding the position of chairman for 20 years.
More than 40 years later, Shanks is still actively involved in the centre, currently holding the role of secretary.
He has been involved in many major improvements over the years, including a new ablution facility, the orienteering course and a camp fire amphitheatre. He has been an integral and valuable part of this vital resource, which has benefited a huge number of young people and schools in Northland.
Shanks has also been a member of the Northland Rugby Referees Association (NRRA) for 55 years, which included 24 years active refereeing.
He has held various leadership roles including president in 2006-2007, and is a life member. He has been coaching referees for 27 years. His understanding of constitutional matters, meeting procedure and rugby law knowledge is second to none, and he is often called on to share his wealth of knowledge.
At last year's NRRA Awards Dinner, Shanks won awards for Services to Coaching and Development, and The Graham Nock Memorial Blazer Award for Most Outstanding Contribution to the NRRA.
This year, John and Olive were presented with the Cancer Society Life Membership Award in recognition of their more-than 20-year dedication to the Cancer Society of New Zealand's Daffodil Day appeal.
John Shanks has given selflessly of his time and energy throughout his life, and continues to bring people together with his unique style of humble leadership.
Committed to building a better community, Terry Ward is humble, quietly spoken, kind, generous and yet a force to be reckoned with. A superb fundraiser with the ability to quietly and successfully galvanise teams to achieve their highest goals, Ward has given selflessly of his time and energy throughout his adult life.
He started his working life with State Insurance in Whangārei. After a short time, he joined Farmers Fertiliser Works in Whangārei, and it was here that he met his future wife Lynette.
Eight years later, Ward joined the family business of W E Wood Glass Company Limited, where he worked until his retirement in 2012.
Next month Lynette and Terry will celebrate their 50th wedding anniversary. The couple have two children, Michael and Karla and now are the very proud grandparents of five grandchildren.
Ward's outstanding contribution to his community began in October 1978, when he was inducted into the Lions Club of Whangārei at his father-in-law's invitation. He has now been a member for 42 years, during which time he has held every office within the club, including his current role of record keeper, which he has held for more than 30 years.
In 1981, Ward was elected to the Board of the Lions Club of Whangārei, and in 1984 he was elected as president.
Ward has been involved in countless projects with the Lions Club of Whangārei, including assisting with the Have Pride in NZ campaign (judged to be one of the Top Ten projects carried out by Lions Clubs anywhere in the world), numerous charity race days, galas, public pledge events and annual Lions golf tournaments, which alone have raised more than $230,000 for Whangārei charities such as Alzheimers, Arthritis, Multiple Sclerosis, Experiencing Marine Reserves, and Riding for the Disabled.
Ward also led the Whangārei Lions fundraising team for Project Promise to raise a portion of the $3m needed to build the Jim Carney Cancer Centre.
He co-ordinated the inaugural fundraising dinner, which raised $30,000 through ticket sales, and $75,000 in pledges. The Whangārei Lions raised more as a single group than any other entity for Project Promise; and Ward's guiding hand was instrumental in that success.
His outstanding contributions to his community have been recognised in 1997, with the awarding of the Honoured Membership in the Lions Lloyd Morgan Trust, and in 2006 with the awarding of the Melvin Jones Fellowship Award. This award is made for dedication to humanitarian services, and is the highest award any individual Lion member can receive.
Terry Ward is a community treasure. He takes every opportunity to make his community a better place, working with a determination that is rarely seen, achieving results that make a real difference to the lives of the people around him.
Rosemary Sanderson (Rosie)
Sanderson has the wisdom, energy, drive and inspirational leadership of an exemplary leader.
An extraordinarily energetic and selfless person, she has given generously of her time and effort to many community organisations and charities.
Sanderson came to live in Whangārei District after her marriage to Bill Sanderson in 1984, and between them they have five children and 13 grandchildren. Once settled into Whangārei, Sanderson immediately became a very giving member of the community.
Northlanders will know her for her unstinting work as chairwoman of the Quarry Gardens Trust, from October 2009 until the present day. She was elected to the trust in 2002 and served as treasurer before becoming chairwoman.
During this time, the Quarry Gardens have matured and flourished into a distinctive and important feature to visit and enjoy in Whangārei.
Under her exceptional leadership the gardens have matured into the stunning feature they are, along with various additional facilities and projects Sanderson has inspired and managed.
These include building the Visitors' Centre with cafe, opening in 2015, and the popular Golf Cart Tours, which were introduced under her watch thanks to a generous donation by Patron of the Gardens.
Sanderson started Whangārei Garden Discovery in 1996 and now the Bi-Annual Garden Discovery Festival and Sculpture Northland are firmly on the map, events which have helped raise the profile not only of the gardens but the district as a whole.
Many local groups enjoy the venue, including Sistema, Northland Youth Theatre, wedding parties and other public and private events.
More recently Sanderson has become a trustee of Taitokerau Education Trust.
She is a firm believer that education is key for young people to be launched into successful and happy lives, and is committed to making it possible for every Northland child to be able to reach their potential.
To this end the trust makes it possible for lower decile schools and their families to access affordable digital devices, giving equal access to online learning.
Sanderson has led a successful professional life in medical research, secondary school
science teaching, biochemistry laboratory work, tutoring at NorthTec, as a liaison officer for University of Auckland and contract co-ordinator at Northland Orthopaedics.
Continuing her dedication to education, Sanderson is also president of University of the Third Age (U3A), Whangārei, which is dedicated to ongoing learning in later years and ongoing social interaction with the community. Rosie organises speakers for monthly meetings, chairs meetings and is a friend to many.
Sanderson has also been a previous trustee of the Leukaemia and Blood Foundation. She has served on school committees, Plunket and Zonta.
For the entirety of her adult life, Sanderson has contributed to the health and wellbeing of local people. In her professional life and in the countless hours spent in voluntary community activities, Sanderson has proven herself to be a selfless, capable and inspirational leader.