Whanganui's Wendy Sellars was among the "selfless, optimistic and generous" people honoured for their community service at the Kiwibank Local Hero Awards.

Also given medals in Palmerston North on Wednesday night were Hunterville's Donald Hatfull, Owhango's Dan Steele and national/Wairarapa figure Mavis Mullins. They will be among 340 in the running for six national category awards and one overall award in February.

Ms Sellars is the head coach and manager of Wanganui Riding for the Disabled. She's been with the organisation for 11 years and it has almost tripled in size during that time.

It's had some setbacks recently, with horses traumatised in a November 10 incident and burglaries before that. But Ms Sellars and the volunteers strive to provide a great experience for all its clients.


"This is not a 'me' award. It's definitely a team award," she said.

She's also organised interschool horse events to benefit charities, and on Thursday was preparing to take horses to Manfeild, for the equine side of the national Special Olympics Summer Games.

Mr Hatfull has "saved" the old Hunterville Town Hall by renovating it and rebuilding facilities. He has put in years of his own work, and he also provided concrete for sports club showers.

He's done fundraising, and is involved with the town's rugby team.

Dan Steele's Blue Duck Station, on the Whanganui River at Retaruke, is both an ecotourism venture and a productive sheep and beef farm.

It hosts many visitors, and also accommodates volunteers who help with farm work and trap predators to protect blue ducks (whio) and other wildlife. Water quality is enhanced, and Mr Steele has set aside 800ha for regenerating native trees.

Mavis Mullins is a business and community leader, with many national and local governance roles. She's worked in health, the environment, agriculture, education, telecommunications and sport.

Her home town is Dannevirke but she had iwi affiliations with Whanganui and is the director of the large Atihau Whanganui Incorporation, managing 40,000ha in the Ruapehu District.