September 11, 2014
The winners of the inaugural Pride of New Zealand Awards were announced at star-studded ceremony held at Auckland’s War Memorial Museum, on Wednesday, September 10.
Created to commemorate 150 years of the New Zealand Herald in print, the Awards celebrate ordinary Kiwis who make a difference in their communities.
From 24 regional finalists, six New Zealanders have been recognized for their extraordinary actions in six categories.
Wade Kelly of Orewa has won the Bravery & Heroism Award for his courageous rescue of four people in treacherous conditions. Three members of one family and another child were caught in a dangerous rip off Waimarama Beach when Wade took his long board out to help them. The Randell family consequently nominated Wade for this award.
Julie King is the winner of the Community Spirit Award. Julie is the founder of Tokoroa Love Soup, a local catering operation set up to feed those in need for free, twice weekly. Julie is also a well-known as an avid campaigner against synthetic highs.
Maera Maki-Anderson has put Murupara on the map for all the right reasons. She has won the Emergency Services Award for her work over the past 26 years as a volunteer fire fighter, credited with single-handedly saving the Kaingaroa Forest Volunteer Fire Brigade when dwindling numbers threatened its closure.
The Environment Award has been won by Kathleen Mato of Wairoa. Kathleen recognised that determined action was needed to protect and improve water quality in her area. She created the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group and as its leader, has spearheaded the environmental clean-up.
Fundraiser of the Year has been named as Tony (Scottie) Scott of Auckland. Tony is the man behind the annual Skytower Stair Challenge which since its inception in 2005 has raised over 2 million dollars for Leukaemia and Blood Cancer New Zealand.
The winner of the Lifetime Achievement Award is Tihi Puanaki of Christchurch. Tihi is the founding member of the longest running Kapa Haka group in the South Island, Te Kotahitanga. Tihi has been credited with “turning lost souls into warriors.”
The seventh and final award of the evening, The TSB Bank’s People’s Choice Award, was awarded by popular vote to Greg Brownson of Auckland’s Helicopter Rescue Squad. Greg’s career has spanned an incredible 31 years in which he has performed close to 2,000 - often lifesaving - rescues.
Editor of the New Zealand Herald, Shayne Currie, says the awards were tremendously difficult to judge because of the quality of the nominations.
“We received hundreds more nominations than we anticipated and many more thousands of votes than expected for the TSB Bank’s People’s Choice Award,” says Currie. “We’ve been thrilled with the response – it’s humbling to see how many New Zealanders dedicate themselves to their communities or even put their own lives on the line for total strangers. Makes you proud to be a Kiwi.”
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