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Motueka's volunteers celebrated in style

October 21st, 2013

The inaugural Motueka Volunteers Awards event drew over 100 people representing a wide range of clubs and community groups on Saturday afternoon to celebrate volunteerism.

The event, organised by Vision Motueka and sure to become an annual highlight on the community calendar, was held in a colourful setting at Memorial Hall, and included a delightful catered afternoon tea and great entertainment.

The highlight of the event was the presentation of special awards to 10 nominated volunteers who have worked hard, mostly for many years, within their groups and the community.

The afternoon began with a short address by David Armstrong introducing Vision Motueka and the purpose of the event, thanking the broad range of people and groups who had supported it with money and time.

Members of the Motueka High School Jazz Band then played three numbers to get the audience in the groove and the toes tapping.

This was followed by the afternoon tea delights, which were prepared by Rankeilor Arnott and her Lioness kitchen helpers and served to the tables by members of the Motueka Newcomers Group.

One of the two MCs, Dana Wensley, then announced and read the citations for the first five special volunteers, who were presented their awards by David Armstrong. (See the photos below for the award winners.)

Then came some surprisingly special entertainment items from two of the winners in the recent primary schools speech presentation competitions. Amber (from Parklands) and Stella (from Mapua) had the older crowd doubled up with laughter and amazed at their skill and confidence as they delivered their satirical speeches.

Recently re-elected Community Board member Paul Hawkes then presented the second set of five volunteer awards.

One of the awardees, Ron Sharp, reflected the mood of the meeting with a short acceptance speech, in part saying: "I love volunteerism as a way of living. It is not imposed and is devoid of pressure; it is not hierarchical or elitist; it allows us to make the contribution we want, not what someone else wants; it's creative but not mass productive; it allows life to unfold according to the interactivity of those who live it; it is not restrictive to customised plans; it fosters interdependence, not dependence; it is collaborative, allowing everyone to have a say and be heard; it grows but is not expansive; it is not controlled by money and profit; it encourages all to contribute through gifting and sharing."

The afternoon ended perfectly with a set of moving, harmony-rich songs from around the world, delivered by the Riverside Inakord a capella choir with great skill and gusto.

The event was made all the richer by the colourful table settings and flowers, along with the stage decoration of giant fluoro-coloured flowers made and volunteered by the Crafty Tarts group. This was complemented by the hall lighting skillfully provided by Mark Wentworth and his youthful team.

Here are photos of the award winners (taken by Sally Robertson), and below that are the citations read out for each one.

Community Networker
Donna McLeod, Te Awhina Marae
Sponsor: Vision Motueka

Social Development
Heather McKenzie, Newcomers Network
Sponsor: Claudia K/Kusce Opticians

Youth Volunteer
Sophie Harrison, Motueka High School
Sponsor: Motueka Online

Club member
Lyn Woodford, Motueka Lionesses Club
Sponsor: Bee Tees

Community Project
Ron Sharp, Community Gardens
Sponsor: House of Travel

Community Events
Rankeilor Arnott, St Andrews Church
Sponsor: Zest Cooking and Living

Environmental Work
Mike Tooker, Keep Motueka Beautiful
Sponsor: Bell Stephenson Architects

Community Arts
John Rimmer, Brass Band
Sponsor: Savilles

Nolan ("Duffy") Duff, Huia Rugby Club
Sponsor: Floral Studio

Administrator Extraordinaire
Margaret Birchfield, Keep Motueka Beautiful
Sponsor: Optimise

Chief organiser Linda Glew introduces the event

The awards were plaques made by Mahana Woodworks

The Inakord choir entertains

Individual citations

Community project: Ron Sharp, Community Gardens
Ron was one of the founding members of the present community gardens, and helps organise the volunteers who turn up at the Friday and Sunday working bees. He has put in countless hours building garden beds and creating other facilities at the gardens, including sheds, drainage, irrigation systems, paths and fences etc. He has also been part of many community organisations and on the boards of several of them, including the Community House. He is busy enough running his own vegetable growing business in Riwaka, but nevertheless spends huge amounts of time at the community gardens encouraging the community and any interested individuals to be involved in growing and becoming more self-sufficient.

Community events: Rankeilor Arnott, St Andrews Church
Rankeilor has had a busy year taking a leadership role in several community projects, mainly in association with St Andrews Uniting Church where she is a member of the parish council. She runs several groups - "Coffee, Chatting and Children" which is a relaxed get together with mums and grandma while children play; children's craft workshops" including Easter Egg Day, Woodlands Forest Creatures Day and a Christmas Gift and Card Creating Day; an Op-Shop Fashion Show which raised funds to help with the restoration of the St Andrew's Church building; and the forthcoming Community Christmas Dinner for families struggling financially, solo parents, people living on their own, senior citizens and seasonal workers. She is also a Victim Support volunteer, and is often visiting elderly folk. And she volunteered to cater for this event this afternoon!

Environmental work: Mike Tooker, Keep Motueka Beautiful & Motueka Tramping Club
For the past few years Mike has led a project whereby many volunteers (mainly members of the 50+ Walking Group) get together to do planting and maintenance in restoring the wetland and saltmarsh area between the Adopt-a-Plot inlet walkway area and the Moutere Inlet. He has successfully applied for funds to purchase reeds and other local wetland plants, with thousands having been planted to date, on the way to restoring the area as it once was. Earlier, he was a leader of about 50 of his walking group as volunteer planters to create the first dozen plots of what is now the 'Adopt a Plot' area. Mike is the walks planner for the walking group and has helped develop a more formal structure for the group. He was also secretary of the tramping club for some time.

Social development: Heather McKenzie, Newcomers Network
Heather is the organiser of the Motueka Newcomers Group, and she works as an unpaid volunteer. When she took over it was a small group of 8 people, and now has developed to over 80 members, due very much to her enthusiasm. She is a great organiser and she keeps the Group going, and assists many of the individuals within the Group. She uses the Internet a lot to motivate the Group to attend outings and pot luck dinners, lunches, and events, with great success. She is a great person who delivers and is generous in her enthusiasm and caring for others.

Community networker: Donna McLeod
Donna has been deeply involved in the community for over a decade. She was on the Board of Trustees of Motueka South School for 12 years and Motueka High School for six years. She is a trustee at Te Awhina Marae and its Hauora health service, and is passionate about the work that the Marae does. She is a strong advocate for good governance of schools and community organisations. She is also an enthusiastic helper and organiser at the Motueka Touch Rugby Academy. And one role which she loves to perform voluntarily is as MC for public and community events.

Community arts: John Rimmer, Brass Band
Since moving to Tapu Bay six years ago John, with considerable support from his wife Helen, has thrown his time and energy freely into advancing the musical scene in Motueka, including the brass band, church choir, other choral performances, and several special musical events. His knowledge and drive enables him to draw the best out of his band and choirs, and inspires them to raise their standards. He established and runs free lessons for band beginners, particularly young potential players. He organises and conducts the band at many celebrations and events. John is also a member of the Combined Probus Club, and works a plot at the Inlet Reserve for Keep Motueka Beautiful.

Youth volunteer: Sophie Harrison, Motueka High School
Sophie, a Year 13 student is involved with so many school initiatives that we can name but a few. She is a Community Services Captain, 40 hour Famine organiser, student contact for troubled students and Junior student mentor, outstanding Form Class Leader, Students against Drunk Driving member, Ball Committee member, Human Rights group member, Breakfast Club roster member, Junior Maths student tutor including holiday tutoring and co-leading Thursday before-school tuition, Student Council Rep and Chairperson of the Student Council, Tasman Youth Council leader and participant, and student marker for the Nelsonmathix Competition for Maths students. Plus helping with the School Production and Fashionista Production.

Sport: Nolan Duff, Huia Rugby Club
Nolan (or Duffy as everyone knows him) has for the past five years looked after the routine operations of Sports Park Motueka. As a long-time member of Huia Rugby Club, he's there every Saturday from 8am to 5,30pm, rain, hail or shine, during the rugby season - and sometimes Sundays and weekdays for High School matches - to open the grandstand, help the visiting teams settle in, and look after the scoreboard. Duffy is also on the Community Patrol roster helping the police look after the town on weekends, and runs the litter cart over the sunshine seasons.

Club member: Lyn Woodford, Motueka Lionesses Club
Lyn has been a member of the Motueka Lioness Club for the whole 29 years of its existence. She has held many positions within the club during this time, including Secretary, Lioness Tamer and Project Co-originator. Lyn is always 101% involved in the Club , whether it be community service or social activities. Any job undertaken by her is well organised, ready ahead of time and always well done. All clubs need a Lyn. She is both a valuable member and much valued by us all, even if she does like to fly under the radar.

Administrator extraordinaire: Margaret Birchfield, Keep Motueka Beautiful
Margaret has been treasurer of Keep Motueka Beautiful for the past eight years. This organisation is far more complex than most community groups as it raises and spends lots of money on plantings, walkways and other projects involving council grants and funds as well as money donated. The treasurer's job requires dedication to detail and managing many trading accounts and funding streams. Margaret also tends three garden plots on behalf of Keep Motueka Beautiful - at the historic wharf, Port Motueka and the entrance to Motueka Cemetery.


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