Whanganui's Jemal Weston has been named a "Local Hero" for his voluntary work but says he accepted the award on behalf of all volunteers in the sport of rowing.

Weston is Fire and Emergency New Zealand's assistant area manager in Whanganui and outside work is heavily involved in rowing. It's his commitment to the sport that led to him receiving a Kiwibank Local Hero Award and medal at a ceremony in Palmerston North on Wednesday.

The awards, now in their 11th year, honour people who have made a positive contribution to their region, town, suburb or community.

"I'm quite humble to be in the group [of recipients] because there are a lot of people doing a lot of good volunteering stuff that goes unrecognised," Weston said.


"I accepted it on behalf of all the volunteers in the rowing circle. It's not just me, it's a team thing."

Weston got involved in rowing when his daughter Stephanie took up the sport in 2014.

"I followed Steph around the country but I'm not one to stand on the bank. There's only so many times you can watch from the bank - rowing races all look the same."

Weston got involved in assisting with regattas, then umpiring and helping make regattas fair and safe. He worked his way through the different Rowing Association tiers to become a level 3 licensed race official which means he can officiate at national level. He is part of the Karapiro senior race official team and officiates at regattas around New Zealand.

He is a past president of the Union Boat Club and has been involved with the Whanganui Rowing Association.

Now he's the club's "general motorboat fixer" and keeps everything up to scratch for the rowing coaches.

"They're the ones who deserve the hero awards, getting up and out for training at 5 o'clock every morning," he said.

Weston played a key role after the 2015 floods in Whanganui caused extensive damage to all of the Union Boat Club's rowing gear and affected other rowing clubs.


"Jemal was quick to orchestrate repairs to its equipment and infrastructure, leaving the club with an improved and upgraded facility," the Local Hero citation said.

He also assisted the other flooded clubs through his links with Fire and Emergency.

It's been a year of recognition for Weston - he was named Whanganui Rowing Association Volunteer of the Year at the 2019 New Zealand Rowing Association awards.