Healthy Homes operations manager Sean White was not surprised that Haka Bristow, installation leader Healthy Homes Tai Tokerau, was the winner of a Community Star at the inaugural Foundation North Tohu Autaia Awards.

Having worked with Ms Bristow, based at Kaitaia's Community Business and Environment centre (CBEC), for four years, he had seen the positive impact she had on clients and team mates on a daily basis.

"Haka trains all our new staff to a very high standard before moving them on to other teams," Mr White said.

"I believe her commitment to the cause of making Kiwi homes warmer and more comfortable for our clients, improving the health of the community, is outstanding. This award recognises individuals and teams from our networks who have made a significant contribution in the not-for-profit sector. We are very honoured to have committed staff who take pride in their work.

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"Haka's leadership, quality of work and selflessness to helping others is commendable. It has been an absolute pleasure to manage such an amazing individual," he said.

Two other Northlanders, Raewyn Tipene, chief executive of Whangārei Māori school Te Kāpehu Whetū, and Damien Clark, co-founder and chairman of Whangārei Youth Space, and 18 Aucklanders received Tohu Autaia ('Sign of an outstanding person') awards, which marked Foundation North's granting of $1 billion to Auckland and Northland communities over 30 years, originally as the ASB Community Trust, funded with a perpetual endowment of almost $1.4 billion after the sale of the Auckland Savings Bank to the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.

"Over the last 30 years we have returned $1 billion to the region in grants to not-for-profit groups and community initiatives," CEO Jennifer Gill said. "While that is a significant amount of money, the greater contribution is the commitment made by tens of thousands of people over that time to put time into improving the lives of everyone who is lucky enough to live here."

The awards also recognised a diverse range of people, from emerging leaders to those who had made a lifetime contribution to Auckland and Northland, and to New Zealand.

"They are the people who run environmental, sports, cultural, arts and entertainment programmes, create initiatives that make a difference for the region's children and young people, and take action to help people in need," Ms Gill said.

The awards were presented at Government House in Auckland by Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy.