2014 Community Honours

George Tinto New


George New has lived in Feilding for over 60 years. Throughout his working life, he was well-known in the business community, owning and operating auction rooms in Fergusson Street until his retirement.  He is also a Justice of the Peace.

In his earlier years, George lived across the road from St Dominic’s School for the Deaf, Aorangi. Retired Sister Maureen O’Hanlon, a former teacher at the school says, “He was not just a neighbour to the Dominican Sisters, staff and children, but a very close loyal friend, adviser and advocate.”

In the early 1960’s, once George became aware of the projects being undertaken by the school he saw these projects completed. When he became aware of the school’s need for a good water supply, he got involved in discussion with Borthwicks Freezing Works over a possibility of them supplying water to the school. After a few months of discussion in June 1967, terms were agreed to supply 2000 gallons of water a day to the school free of charge.

George helped form St Dominic’s School for the Deaf Advisory Board and was elected Chairman and held this position for all the years the Board operated. Some of the initiatives and major projects were undertaken by the Board include:

  • Arranging Manawatu-Oroua Electric Power Board to have lighting installed on the long dark, entrance driveway to the school.
  • Having a fire escape slide erected from the first floor dormitory.
  • Raising funds in order to purchase group hearing aids, which had to come from England.

When the school integrated into the state system in the early 1980’s, a school committee was established as part of the integration process. As the school no longer required the assistance of an Advisory Board, George was elected Chairman of the school committee in 1983 and remained in this position until 1986. In the same year, St Dominic’s School for the Deaf Charitable Trust was formed. George was appointed one of the four trustees and still holds this position.

As well as his work on committees, it was a small things which are remembered.

Along with his wife, he looked after some of the children in the weekends to give the sisters/nuns a break. When the school gala day was held, he was known to be very generous in giving children a donation so they could spend it at the gala day. One of the many ‘small’ things he did at the school that is still talked about today.

Sister O’Hanlon said, “As a neighbour and a loyal friend, George has certainly exceeded what anyone could hope for in a neighbour.”

Described as a careful man, who did not undertake any task lightly, George willingly gave his time and advice whenever he was asked for it and deserves recognition with this Manawatu District Council community honour.

George is also remembered as a keen rugby player and supporter and a keen golfer.

Cynthia Drake

Without doubt, Feilding is a stronger, more vibrant and resilient provincial community because of Cynthia Drake’s selfless efforts, influence and community spirit.

Cynthia has given her life to helping others as a dedicated community volunteer. This longstanding and continuous voluntary work has been carried out to benefit others, including minority groups, pre-schoolers, families and the Feilding arts community.

Cynthia’s name is synonymous with FADAS (Feilding and Districts Arts Society). Ask someone in Feilding about the Society and the name that comes to mind, is ‘Cynthia Drake’. Many have said in support of her nomination, that without her, FADAS would not be the place it is. For many years, she has been the sole staff member, holding down the fort, keeping it open, backing up fellow committee members and artists with administrative support, cups of tea and sage advice. A great deal of her life has been devoted to this project. She is seen daily, walking to the Arts Centre, whatever the weather.

Prior to FADAS, she played a key role with the Arts Guild which was formed in 1997 and had gallery space above Turner’s Gift Shop.

From 1986 – 1992, Cynthia managed and coordinated programmes for the Community Learning Centre. She opened her home to the spill-over groups. It was not uncommon to find her kitchen filled with needle-craft and patch-workers.

Around the same time, she worked as a volunteer co-ordinator of Adult Reading and Learning Association (ARLA) teaching English as a Second Language and helping to integrate refugees. She also took into her own home new immigrants, personally caring for them, teaching them lifestyle skills, household duties as well as teaching English and New Zealand culture.

Strengthening Families, an organisation that supports children and families in this community also received her support during the five years of 2007 - 2012 when she carried out their secretarial work.

Her affinity with supporting children was earlier displayed in the 1980’s when she helped with the establishment of the first Child Care Centre in Feilding using a vacant room in Manchester Street School.

Cynthia has also served two terms on the Manawatu District Council Community Funding Committee.

Described as the ‘go-to person’ for many groups and individuals over many years, Cynthia is a quiet doer, perceptive, reliable, with great initiative and is a valued and generous member of our community.