2018 Community Honours
While many associate Jim Howard with the Rangitikei District and his family’s historic home and woodland garden “Westoe” on the banks of the Rangitikei River near Marton, Jim has spent many years pursuing his horticultural and environmental passions in the Manawatu District, or more precisely at Kimbolton in the northern Manawatu. Passions he describes as an enormously satisfying project, made so particularly because of the great people behind him.
One of Jim’s greatest passion’s in life is rhododendrons. In 1980, he and his wife Diana had taken over his parent’s home and garden and found themselves the owners of a collection of rhododendrons planted by his father. As many unnamed, Jim headed the then National Garden of the Rhododendron Association at Kimbolton. So impressed by his first visit, he has been avidly involved ever since – nearly 30 years.
In 1990, Jim was appointed to the Heritage Park garden management committee by the New Zealand Rhododendron Association. In 1995 he became chairman and remained in this position until 2005. During this time Jim was the Heritage Park representative on the NZRA national committee of the. Jim has since been appointed a Honourary Life Member of this organisation. Jim continues to serve on the Trust’s Garden Committee which provides day to day management of the garden.
While the park’s garden may have always thrived, the commitment by the NZRA began to wane and there was uncertainty to the park’s future. In his position of Garden Management Chairperson, Jim championed the “save the park” movement. After much discussion, Jim convinced the NZRA not to sell the garden outright but to sell it to the then garden management committee for the princely sum of $5 and the Heritage park Rhododendron Charitable Trust was established in 2005 saving the park from private ownership. Jim provided determined leadership and was always eloquent and diplomatic in the face of challenging adversaries.
Jim’s drive to improve both the presentation of Kimbolton and its educational display, now recognised as one of the most important in New Zealand, is acknowledged by all who know him and it has made the gardens one of the leading horticultural attractions in the Manawatū. Without Jim’s drive, passion and knowledge it would not be the place it is today and have the infrastructure to continue to grow and prosper.
Another project of note that Jim championed was the development of the “Sir Edmund Hillary living memorial” rhododendron and its public launch in 2012 after the seeds were gifted to New Zealand from the Queen of Nepal. A portion of the sale of this rhododendron, that is aptly named after Sir Edmund Hillary following his death, goes to Sir Edmund Hillary’s Himalayan Trust.
In 2017, Heritage Park hosted the New Zealand Rhododendron Association National Conference. Due to Jim’s passion and dedication to the park, this garden is now held in national high regard. Last year’s conference attracted visitors from all round New Zealand and many from overseas including a garden publication from the United Kingdom. As a result of hosting such an event, four busloads of visitors toured the gardens of the Country Road in the Manawatū District.
Jim is a life member of the New Zealand Rhododendron Association and he has also served on the board of Pukeiti in Taranaki. He has also been a member of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society for over 50 years and was a long time trustee of Bushy Park Homestead and Forest Reserve at Kai Iwi where he was involved in the establishment of an arboretum and a project to help protect the threatened North Island Robin.
Recognition of Jim’s work is of special significance for a guy who would never seek such an honour but should be rewarded for his diligence, leadership and friendship to so many people. The attributes that make Jim stand out from others is his humility, quiet wisdom, extensive knowledge and willingness to serve. Whether it is at group working bees or solitary visits, Jim is always thoughtfully planning ahead at Heritage Park, scouting out a plant of note, finding new gems and showing visitors around as a very knowledgeable tour guide to groups large and small.
Senior constable and youth aid officer John Samuela has had a long and fulfilling career and one he believes is him just doing his job as best he can.
When asked about his initial thoughts upon receiving this award, he was incredibly humbled by it all. Adding that his role is made because of his team, the services, and the schools in this community. Which is a true testament to the kind of person he is.
Back in 1999 John re-configured the Feilding and District Youth Board to include a restorative justice system. Working on the Youth Board for six years, he managed to bring down youth offending to zero percent – something which had never been achieved before. This involved a lot of out of office unpaid labor working with and supporting young offenders and mentoring and empowering their families through a supportive restorative justice process. John has worked hard to maintain this program and it is at a standard that is reflected in its results.
In 2010, John began the initiative of drug testing at Feilding High School and Hato Paora Boys College to keep young people in school and continuing their education. The programme still runs today, with John continuing to be deeply involved by way of his position as Youth Aid Senior Constable supporting many Feilding and District families through the Strengthening Families process.
John was also involved in the rebuilding of Hato Paora. He became a panel member on the disciplinary board which aims to retain students rather than exclude them. He is highly respected in this school and his work has helped turn it around. Particularly also through his involvement in many fundraising events.
John is very passionate about the children in his community. This is personified through the establishment of the Adopt-a-cop program in Hato Paora that aims to improve relationships between police and students, being more proactive to help develop a more positive attitude from both sides of the fence.
John has been a Youth Aid Officer for some 18 years and carries a huge amount of mana in this community which is reflected largely through his work. His role as a gentle giant with the young, his compassion and understanding with families and his total support for the wellbeing and welfare of this community is renowned.
John is one of the officers involved in the Blue Light initiative which supports young people who otherwise would have no other opportunity in this world, through a variety of activities and experiences. Whether it be providing musical disco’s to Feilding schools and the community, flying days with the local aero club, or taking local children selected to the National Bluelight Rainbows End fun day in Auckland, he can always be relied upon to attend, support or assist in whatever way possible for any family or youth in need.
John has also taught Kapa Haka at Lytton Street School, North Street and Feilding Intermediate over the years. He and his wife also worked very closely creating music bands with local students, some of whom could not even play a musical instrument, teaching them and opening doors that would otherwise not have been opened.
Manawatū is blessed to have John working in its community, his caring nature and ability to defuse any type of situation is second to none. He is highly respected by his work colleagues at all levels being described as an all-round good guy who loves children and who always sees the good and the potential to help them and develop them to becoming good citizens.
Beverley Hoggard is a stalwart of the Manawatū community. Her extensive knowledge in the garden is particularly profound having been the face of Daffodil Day in Feilding for over 16 years. Her years of voluntary service in whatever capacity she puts her hand up for is commendable without want or reward in return. Beverley believes that the hours of passion and hard work she has put into everything she does takes a village.
For nearly as long as she has been a volunteer of the Manawatu Cancer Society, which entails driving people to their appointments and home again, sitting with patients so family members can have a break to run errands, have a coffee or just to relax, Bev is well known for her work in the community by other volunteers and supporters of the Manawatu Cancer society.
Daffodil Day is a major fundraising event in the community to provide much needed funds so the organisation can support patients and their families on their Cancer journey and Beverley is instrumental in ensuring this runs like clockwork.
Bev starts organising the annual Daffodil Day street appeal four months beforehand. She contacts growers, schools and other organisations such as Rest Homes and Service groups for their support. This last year she organised Lions Club members to plant more daffodil bulbs at Mount Lees Reserve for future generations to enjoy. Bev coordinated the bulbs to be donated by a local nursery on this occasion with ease. She is well respected in the community for her ‘get on with job’ attitude and love for daffodils, as evident at the beginning of spring in her garden.
Over the years, Bev has had great support from her husband Don who has worked tirelessly to assist her in all aspects of her work. They have given their time and love for the arts to the Feilding Little Theatre over many years and just recently, she received a Regional Theatre Award for her front of house service.
With what little remainder of her day she does have, Beverley is also a committed volunteer at the Coach House Museum and has been involved with these sorts of community activities as far back as the ‘kindergarten days’.
Beverley is always happy to make a contribution in any endeavor she is involved with. In everything she does, she leaves a lasting impression through her willingness to give back and through the support of her husband Don, they are undoubtedly a pillar of this community.
George Annear & Catherine Brown
George Annear and Catherine Brown are a couple who believe that if things need to be done, you put your hand up and get involved. Together, they had been doing just that in Himatangi Beach for well over a decade.
George began his community involvement as a member of the Residents Association, which went on to form the Progressive Society. As a member of the Progressive Society, George started a petition to get support from both the Regional and District Council to improve the condition of the Kaikokopu Stream for whitebait spawning and to get bollards placed to stop logs going so far up the stream.
Both George and Catherine were members of the Himatangi Beach community committee. Catherine was secretary for the Himatangi Beach Progressive society as well as secretary for the community committee until 2004. She was reelected in 2013 resigning in 2016 and was a driving force behind many successful projects in the village. In 2009, George had a stint as acting chairman.
For several years George and Catherine have shown great interest in the development of the dunes and reserve areas at Himatangi Beach through the Dune Care Group. They have acted on concerns by growing seedlings and planting them to stop erosion on the dunes. They have also been dedicated into assisting with planting of the Reserve behind the Fire Station.
Catherine’s input as a volunteer librarian and coordinator for the local library has been ongoing and instrumental for the coastal community. Her and George also assisted in taking books into Feilding for changing every 6 weeks.
George was a trustee and chairman for the Himatangi Beach community trust in 2005, and reelected in 2013 through to 2017. During this time, he introduced the Light Up Himatangi event. A lot of work was done to ensure this event was a success with a huge amount of organisation involved. Such that it has been on Queens Birthday weekend every year since.
George and Catherine were founding members of the Himatangi Beach community patrol from 2016 to 2018. Catherine was instrumental in setting the patrol up on behalf of the Community Committee. During this time, they we active members doing regular patrols and lending a hand at working bees and fundraisers. Since the Himatangi Beach patrol was formed, the presence of members like George and Catherine have made residents feel safer, with crime reportedly going down in the area. Catherine also was in charge of rosters and reporting statistics to the CPNZ Head Office on a regular basis. Together, George and Catherine were always willing to do patrols when no one else was available. Everyone knew their familiar faces too which gave the Patrol its initial credibility.
Both Catherine and George were involved in Civil Defence from when it was first introduced to the beach. George was the coordinator of the group until 2016. He was responsible for holding local meetings and assisting the Regional Coordinator when necessary. When disaster struck particularly the 2015 floods, George was one of the first on the scene to assist.
The passion that both George and Catherine have for Himatangi Beach was always evident and they held a huge desire to ensure that their community was as best prepared for a Civil Defence emergency as possible. Over the years they partnered with Council’s Emergency Management in the delivery of a number of initiatives in the coastal community that were designed to increase community participation in Civil Defence preparedness.
The couple were also instrumental in ensuring that the local Civil Defence centre at the Himatangi Bowling Club had the appropriate level of infrastructure and was suitably resourced should an emergency strike. There were also occasions when severe weather events did hit the Beach, that of their own volition opened up the centre for residents in case they needed support.
George and Catherine have both been an integral part of the Himatangi Beach community for many years. They have gotten involved, supported, steered, and most importantly just plainly made things happen. George and Catherine are unsung heroes willing to lend a hand to a community they value so deeply. If it wasn’t for their drive and determination and support of one another, there would not be the community structures that Himatangi has now.