2015 Community Honours


George Kereama  

George Kereama personifies what community should be.  He is a kaumatua who is comfortable in all settings; be it at home on Taumata o te Ra marae, in the wider Te Ao Maori, the local community, or local body Government.

His natural diplomacy and leadership over many years has benefited the communities he has been part of. Halcombe and the wider Manawatu are privileged to have him in their community. He is their poutokomanawa o te whare; the central pillar of the house. The Halcombe Community Development Group value him as a key member who provides sound judgement, wisdom and life experience. So too does Taumata o Te Ra Marae Komiti.

George has been part of the Halcombe Community Development Group for many years. He is a highly respected key member of the group providing sound judgement, wisdom and life experience. Since 1983 he has been an integral in establishing Taumata O Te Ra marae in Halcombe. His ability and drive to build relationships – even in testing situations is to be admired and he has been instrumental in ensuring Taumata O Te Ra is part of the community, facilitating school visits and the community Waitangi Day event. As well as being a key sounding board and provider of guidance and advice, George is not adverse to rolling up his sleeves and getting physically stuck in – attending just about every working-bee held in the Halcombe community.

Whether it be on the end of a weed-eater, planting plants into rocky soil or spreading mulch, George is consistently there doing it along-side people a good few years younger than himself. George’s sense of humour and capacity to openly share his wisdom and knowledge in a caring, no-nonsense way makes him extremely approachable. His ability to cut through any generational and/or race barriers that may arise, is a true gift.

 The Halcombe community values everything he brings to their community and they recognise and share him with many other communities as his involvement extends far beyond the boundary of Halcombe, such as his work with Te Wananga o Raukawa’s Te Whakahoutanga, Ngati Manomano, the Manawatu District Council Marae Consultative Committee and the 28th Maori Battalion Hall Committee. The Manawatu District and its wider community is honoured to have George Kereama as a valued member and recognise him today with this award. 

Marilyn Wightman

The Manawatu district’s history is well preserved thanks to the tireless efforts of Marilyn Wightman.

For the last ten years she has dedicated countless hours of her organisational and research skills, and archival management knowledge to ensure valuable local history is not lost. During 2005, it become evident to members of the Manawatu Historic Vehicle Collection Trust, - The Coach House, that there was a large quantity of historic items stored at both the Feilding Library and the Manawatu District Council office that needed quality attention and preservation. Because of Marilyn’s enthusiasm for research, history and preserving our past she is a hard-working member of the Feilding branch of the New Zealand Society of Genealogists. She stepped up to be part of a working committee to evaluate and design a Community Archive to give much-needed care to a significant volume of Manawatu’s history. Throughout this establishment phase, Marilyn’s enthusiasm, knowledge and skill was integral to the direction and outcome of this important development. The importance of the Community Archives today cannot be overstated in terms of the wider community. They have become the repository not only of our local history, but also improved storage of personal and community records which hold immense value in preserving the historic fabric of our region. Marilyn has seen to that.

Marilyn is also a trustee of the Manawatu Historic Vehicle Collection Trust who have recognised her efficient organisation and planning skills. It goes without saying that she was appointed manager of the Feilding and District Community Archive, a position she still holds today. Prior to the move from Bowen Street, teams were formed to take care of respective aspects of what had to be moved to the Coach House. Marilyn drew up a plan that involved dismantling and reconstructing shelving and carefully moving items to the new South Street site. It was a tribute to her great planning that this military-type operation ran like clockwork due to her meticulous written notes. Marilyn leads a devoted team of volunteers who sing her praises for the quality of her leadership, knowledge and training she gives to them in order to undertake the variety of skilled tasks required in managing the archives.

After the Museum and the Archive’s shift to South Street, the Archives have continued to grow both in the numbers of volunteers and the items of history to be accessioned, cleaned, digitally recorded and stored. The shift required policies for all of the aspects of running a rapidly expanding collection of artefacts that represent the history and social fabric of Manawatu District. Marilyn and her team are deemed vital to this onerous and on-going task. Marilyn also acts as a rostered and on-call duty manager for the Coach House Museum. Additionally, her input into the museum has extended beyond the archives and the interior as she has undertaken responsibility for the museum’s grounds.

Marilyn is a highly intelligent yet unassuming person whose knowledge of things past pervades our community like a gentle fragrance. It is no surprise that she has a love of gardens and an exponent on herb cultivation The Manawatu District is honoured to have Marilyn Wightman leading the preservation of our history and we are in her debt. We recognise her contribution today with this Community Honour.

Mary Sanson

Mary Sanson is a special kuia from Ngati Kauwhata who has a great love and commitment for serving her people, her church, her marae, her hapu and her iwi.

Mary expresses the strength of her values in her engagement with all people from tamariki to kaumatua, whether it be helping young mothers budget and cook economically for their whanau, or organising firewood for kaumatua, her attitude is one of love and caring. She is resourceful, practical, highly motivated and delightful. Her level of involvement with many organisations reflect her passion and commitment. The Maori Women’s Welfare League was established in 1951 to foster work among Maori women. Their focus in the early years was on health and children. Later the League’s interests broadened to include education, culture and sports.

Mary is committed to the league as a member of the Kauwhata branch, has served as Chairperson of Te Ikaroa region and is a valued life member. Her marae, hapu and iwi of Ngati Kauwhata is important also in her life. She has been a leading influence in the development and sustainability of her marae and continues to offer her support and guidance where and when needed. Mary has also contributed to the Manawatu District Council since 1998 as a founding and loyal member of the Marae Consultative Standing Committee. Given her nursing background, she has been a passionate advocate for improving Maori health and well-being.

Mary is a source of wisdom and a gracious advisor to pakeha leaders within our District. Her life skills provide important lessons and guidance for the well-being of her people.  Age is no deterrent, whether she is planting trees near the river, baking goodies for Christmas surprises or running weekly craft days at Te Runanga o Raukawa in Feilding. Her enthusiasm is infectious and knows no bounds. The catholic church has played a large role in Mary’s life and she has realised a lifelong commitment to Hato Paora and Hato Petera church at Kai Iwi.

She is the Bishop’s appointee to the Hato Paora Board of Trustees and is their longest serving board member. She is also a long-standing member of the Maori Apostolate of the Diocese of Palmerston North.  Pope Francis has recognised her service to the New Zealand Maori Catholic Church and diocese of Palmerston North by being awarded the highest honour – the Benemerenti Papal Medal. This medal is being presented to Mary in a special ceremony on 19 December 2015 at her local marae, Ngati Kauwhata. The Manawatu District and its wider community is honoured to have Mary Sanson as a valued member and recognise her today with this award.

Roger and Kaye McKinnon

Roger and Kaye McKinnon have been active contributors to the Rangiwahia Community since they arrived there in 1968 to work and raise a family.

They are a testament to true community spirit. Since 1975, Roger has been a member of the Rangiwahia Hall committee including a lengthy period as its chair. Kaye too has served on the committee as well as providing countless suppers at meetings, taking hall bookings and organising the running and cleaning of the hall. It wasn’t just committee meetings for Roger though. He is known locally as ‘Mr Fixit’ due to the hours he has spent with tools in hand, fixing, renovating and carrying out building work on the hall. He was involved with the renovation of the supper room and kitchen ensuring the work was completed in time for the 1986 Centennial Celebrations.  He didn’t just provide man hours, but also willingly used his own equipment such as concrete mixers, wheelbarrows, truck, and building tools. His tireless efforts and Kaye’s support were specially acknowledged with the aptly named McKinnon’s Corner.

The list of hall projects Roger has worked on is lengthy from small jobs like hanging photographs to the larger ones such as organising the transport and placement of a 5000-gallon concrete water tank. His knowledge and talents are indispensable to the close-knit community. For nigh on a decade the pair were actively involved in the Rangiwahia Revellers. This group was established in 1985 with the aim of providing entertainment at the centennial celebrations. Kaye was a valued singer and also assisted with make-up, sewing and suppers. Roger was involved as the stage manager and show technician. An example of his renowned ‘kiwi ingenuity’ is the railing and pulley system he built for operating stage curtains using wooden cotton reels and bike wheels. The system is still in use today. Rangiwahia School was also the recipient of countless hours of Roger’s practical support.

As well as being chairman of the school committee for numerous years he was always on hand to fix anything that was broken, and even devised a solar system to heat the cold ground water that filled the school swimming pool. More recently, Roger organised restoring and erecting the former school flagpole in the village in time for the 100-year ANZAC commemoration service The Rangiwahia community is in no doubt that both Kaye and Roger are worthy recipients of a Community Honour.

To the people of Rangiwahia there is no Roger without Kaye, and no Kaye without Roger. It is important to recognise Kaye in her own right. We acknowledge those years of commitment and service to a number of organisations in which Kaye has shown leadership, encouragement and guidance. Such as, Her role as Play Centre supervisor during the 1970’s and 80’s. Her keen interest in pre-school development continues as she is currently patron of the Rangiwahia Play Group. While her children were at school Kaye was an enthusiastic organiser and fundraiser for the Rangiwahia PTA. She was also a president of Plunket while her children were young. For over 40 years Kaye has been an active member of the Rangiwahia Home and Garden Club contributing to many flower and rose shows. As a passionate leader within Rural Women New Zealand for over 40 years, Kaye has been involved in education, facilitating training days and workshops. She has been Rangiwahia branch secretary and treasurer which involved day-to-day financial administration of the branch.

As president of the Rangitikei-Oroua Provincial area she brought the provincial meetings to Rangiwahia, which had never been done before. She is a pillar of the Rangiwahia community and has dedicated herself to all of the events that have taken place there. The couple have always been family orientated and have extended this love to their community. They are community leaders without fanfare or complaint. Everything they have contributed to Rangiwahia has been given unselfishly to make their community a better place for all.  These Community Honours for Roger and Kaye are in recognition of the many years of devoted service they have given to their community and the district.

Dan Paki

Dan Paki’s involvement in local sport has given him the stature of an elder statesman, one with great knowledge and experience.

Three of last year’s Rugby World Cup winning All Black team Sam Whitelock, Aaron Smith, and Codie Taylor have directly benefited and not forgotten Dan’s tireless dedication to young local sportspeople. In 1973, our community was fortunate that Dan made Feilding his home. The following year he started coaching junior rugby. In 1986, Dan began his involvement with FAHS - Feilding High School as coach of a cricket team. He has also been the school’s shearing team selector and coach. However his role as a school rugby coach has been continuous, including this year. Dan has been coach of numerous teams, helping many of them to become some of the best in the country. For decades he has committed himself to two trainings a week, plus attended matches. Add into that the many additional games played out of town during inter-school fixtures. FAHS has sent many tour teams overseas. This often places financial burden on families. Dan worked with contacts to ensure the boys found opportunities to earn their overseas fares. It is never a hand-out, but a hand-up. He is also a firm believer that if boys were going to have to fundraise then so were the coaches. Over the years he has coordinated asparagus picking, thistle grubbing, shearing, hay-making, hangi, silage stacks – the list is lengthy.

Dan has upskilled himself and more recently has become the main medical man for the 1st XV. He spends up to an hour before each game strapping and making sure all the boys are ready to play. He has brought the art of reflexology into the game, along with a massage table. He is always prepared for the needs of the boys and ensures that all supplies are on hand and they are ready to go so they can perform at their best. During the week he spends countless hours driving between Feilding and Palmerston North ferrying boys, while imparting pearls of wisdom and advice to those he carries, in particular about looking after your body in the right manner so it performs at its best. These words of advice have also been applied to young Maori men as Dan has volunteered at the school and its hostel, to help mentor them through tough battles both academically, emotionally and physically. He has a natural affinity with young students and has learnt how to impart the knowledge of an elder in skilful and impactful manner. Students he has assisted throughout the years always remember his help and advice. It is not just the Feilding High School community who has benefited from Dan’s time and commitment.

He was a member of the St Joseph’s Board of Trustees for six years, a representative on the Maori Committee for Catholic Schools cluster. He has volunteered with the Feilding Community Patrol, Civil Defence Police and as a volunteer working the Palmerston North Police Patrol and supervising prisoners held in Police cells in the weekends. Dan has also been known to tread the boards at Feilding Little Theatre’s pantomimes and music halls, having played Wal in Footrot Flats and performing in the productions of Fiddler on the Roof and Brigadoon. Dan has never asked for much in return. The respect he has earned is immense. The trust and respect for him never waivers and continues to carry many people in Feilding and through the country, in good stead.

Our community honours Dan Paki for his selfless commitment to bettering the lives of so many young men and being an active citizen in our community, by awarding to him a Manawatu Community Honour.