A retiree and a 10-year-old from Carterton are proving whatever age you are, you can make a difference.

Don Bell and Jayden Drinnan are finalists in the inaugural APN Pride of New Zealand Awards, handpicked by judges out of almost 700 nominations nationwide.

Mr Bell, a conservation expert, has been recognised for his hard work in environmental projects like the restoration of the Mangaterere Stream in Carterton and his involvement in Sustainable Wairarapa.

Since retiring three years ago, from working in the land management department for the Greater Wellington Regional Council, he has lent his expertise to many conservation projects in Wairarapa.


Jayden, a Carterton School pupil, is a finalist in the Fundraiser of the Year category.

Out of the blue he decided to do Shave for a Cure, getting people to sponsor him to shave his hair off and raising over $2000 for cancer research.

The awards aim to find and recognise campaigners, volunteers, teachers, care givers and other unsung heroes across the country who have done something extraordinary to help others.

Over the weekend, the judging panel, made up of NZ Herald Editor Shayne Currie, environmental champion and winemaker Peter Yealands, Silver Fern Maria Tutaia, radio personality from TRN's The Hits Polly Gillespie and Jo Cowie, director of fundraising at Starship, selected three finalists in each award category for each region.

The categories are: Bravery/Heroism, Community Spirit, Fundraiser of the Year Award, Emergency Services, Environment and Lifetime Achievement.

Regional winners will be announced in August and from those, national winners will be selected by broadcaster Judy Bailey, Victoria Cross holder Corporal Willie Apiata, TSB Bank CEO Kevin Murphy and APN New Zealand CEO Jane Hastings to be announced in September.

You also get a say - from August 11, you can vote for the most deserving national finalist in the TSB Bank People's Choice Award.

The awards sparked a huge 693 nominations by the public from every corner of the country - exceeding organisers' expectations for a completely new event.


It is sponsored by the New Zealand Herald, TRN radio station The Hits and TSB Bank.

For information, go to www.prideofnzawards.co.nz and like the Facebook page for updates: www.facebook.com/PrideOfNZAwards