Everyday people doing exceptional things were the toast of the town on Friday night when 22 Northlanders received 2019 Kiwibank Local Hero Awards in Whangārei. Each received a medal, and congratulations, from mayor Sheryl Mai.

"Our region's 22 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," Ms Mai said.

"The awards continue to be the perfect opportunity for our community to acknowledge these people and their efforts in making Northland a better place to live."

The recipients were Pat Newman, Fay Patricia Colthurst, Brent Martin, Pam Stevens, Major Christopher Nelson Williams, Ada Fleet, Malcolm McKerrow, Virginia Barr Eiger, Liane Tracey Blair, Brian McLachlan, Elyse Lewis, Robyn Warin and Kerry Reyburn (all Whangārei), Ciaran Torrington (Kaitaia), Warren James Daniel (Ruakaka), Craig and Greta Harman (Hikurangi), Ellen Norman (Kaitaia), Nigel Ross (Kaikohe), Heather Stanley and Tanya Filia (Kaikohe).

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This year 322 medals will be presented nationwide, with one New Zealand Local Hero of the Year to be announced at the New Zealander of the Year awards gala in February.

"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," Kiwibank CEO Steve Jurkovich said.

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

* Ciaran Torrington is a counsellor in Northland, an ACC sexual abuse therapist and assessor who specialises in helping victims of trauma and social issues. She founded the charity HEALnz in 2014, supporting survivors and victims of sexual abuse.

Ellen Norman has worked in mental health since the 1990s, and helped lead the transformation of mental health services in South Auckland. She is currently the Mental Health Foundation's national director of Māori development, using her knowledge and skills to bring similar transformation to services in Northland.

Nigel Ross has been involved with sport and recreation in Kaikohe for more than 70 years, with a focus on cricket and hockey at Lindvart Park. Under the administration of the former Kaikohe Borough Council, he was instrumental in the development of the park's pavilion in 1983, and was a part of the group raising the construction cost funds.

Tanya Filia is a former Hokianga school principal who was diagnosed with brain cancer more than three years ago. She turned to natural medicine, traditional Māori medicine and vitamin C for treatment, claiming good results. She has now begun a campaign to have alternative medicines funded by the government.

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