Wherever you look in Whangamomona, you will find some of Walter Pease's handiwork.
From a children's playground to the dog trial club signage, a mini-putt course to the log being pulled by the driftwood sculpture called Athol the Bull, Walter's work is visible throughout the Republic. This year, Walter's willingness to get involved and give his time and skill to a variety of projects and initiatives in his community has resulted in him being one of the 2022 Stratford District Citizen Award recipients.
He has lived in the eastern districts for most of his life, attending Huiakama Primary as a child. Although he left the area for a while after finishing his studies at New Plymouth Boys' High School, he says he's always ended up coming back.
"I always seemed to come back here to the area. It's home."
His own children attended Marco School, and Walter served on its board of trustees, helping with a wide range of fundraising events ad working bees over the years. While his children have now finished their primary schooling, Walter is still involved with the school, now serving as the board of trustees presiding member - a role formerly known as chairman.
"It's just what you have to do in a small rural district like this. We all try to do our bit."
For Walter, "doing his bit" includes getting involved with anything and everything in his community, from the Whangamomona Pig Hunt where he served on the committee and helps the popular event run as smoothly as possible, to helping out on the course and supplying equipment for the Whangamomona Dog Trials, an event he has even started entering with his own dogs in recent times. Then there's the annual Whangamomona Bike Ride, which Walter puts countless hours into helping organise and set up, as well as the time he gives to both the Whangamomona Hall and the Whangamomona Domain Committees, both of which he serves on.
The Republic's playground and the mini-putt course are both largely thanks to Walter, as he was one of the initiators of both projects, focused on making sure the Republic has plenty to offer residents and tourists alike.
"The area was a bit of wasted space, so it was about making use of the space and adding an experience to the area."
The added benefit is that the mini-putt is right opposite the town's pub he says, "so you can always take a break between holes and have a drink".
When it comes to the popular Whangamomona Republic Day, Walter is one of the key volunteers. From supplying manpower and gear, donating items and slabs of native wood for auctions, to being part of the displays on the day himself, showcasing his legendary chainsaw skills, he is always busy helping.
Walter has been described as being "the backbone of the Whangamomona community, a quiet, humble and modest man of many talents", and that humble nature came into play when he received the letter from council telling him he was being awarded a Stratford District Citizen Award.
"I thought I might have been in trouble," he says about getting the letter, before adding that he doesn't think he does anything special.
"There's plenty of people out here that do as much as me. It's the people that make a place."
It certainly is the people that make a place, says Stratford District Mayor Neil Volzke, and Walter is certainly an important person when it comes to making the republic of Whangamomona just as unique and special as it is.
"It's clear Walter is the go-to guy for many things and a real advocate for the Republic. It's a pleasure to acknowledge his efforts with a 2022 Citizen Award."