Topic: 2009 Hamilton Civic Awards

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In 2009 Civic Awards were presented to Rae Cowie, Ismail Gamadid, Rei Hagan, Mary Hayes, Simon Marriott, Ellaby Martin, Gwen Nichols, Betty Pettigrew, Kees Poortman, Maureen Soanes, Gladys Stephens, William (Bill) Taua and Steve Tritt, in December 2009, by Mayor Bob Simcock.

Rae Cowie

Rae's commitment to Hamilton has spanned over 40 years. While he was the Headmaster of Forest lake School in the 1970's Rae began his relationship with the Waikato Tennis Association, which continues to this day.

Rae has held various positions within the Tennis Association - he has been the President, a Selector, a Coach, a manager and a "groundsman" over his years with the Association.

He has organized, supported and run Senior and International events at the Waikato Tennis Centre. In years past, when the courts were grass, and run by the Lugton Park Tennis Association he could always be found rolling the courts, marking and cutting them in preparation for Tournaments or weekend play.

He has also spent many hours with younger players - managing teams and transporting players to outlying venues, even acting as "chaperone" where needed.

His friendly attitude and cooperative approach to players and other officials made him respected member of the team, and the Tennis Association named him a Life member, in recognition of his work, and the respect others hold for him.

Rae also held many offices in the Hamilton Rugby Referees Association over an extensive period, including President. As a Provincial Referee he mentored and supported not only the players but the young referees learning the role - freely offering advice and guidance.

Unassuming, quiet and dignified: Rae Cowie has earned respect and admiration from everyone who came into contact with him. He is a dedicated, committed person, passionate about his sport and is there to support his Association and its members achieve their goals.

He has contributed hugely to the Hamilton tennis and rugby communities and thoroughly deserves recognition for his service to sport in our city.

Ismail Gamadid

Ismail has been a resident of Hamilton since the mid nineties, arriving as a refugee from Somalia. He quickly became involved in voluntary work providing support for his community and later became involved in many other voluntary organisations - serving people from all walks of life.

He has made a significant contribution in the Ethnic Community, particularly amongst the refugee community and more specifically amongst the Somali and Muslim communities.

The fact that Ismail has been the president of the Waikato Muslim Association for the last seven years is a testimony to his individual leadership skills and passion for voluntary work. He was a founding member of the New Zealand National Refugee Network and is president of the Waikato Refugee Forum. When he recently tried to step down from this role due to time commitments the entire refugee community was united in ensuring he was re-elected, as it was felt no one else could fill this position.

He is a man of many responsibilities and his time is in demand - he is consulted at both a National and Regional level by Government, Non-government organisations and community groups.

Ismail has made a significant contribution on many fronts - teaching Somali Language; acting as an interpreter for the Police, Ministries of Health and Justice. He works closely with the Hamilton Refugee Services, offering a high level of support, and has helped with the resettlement of refugees in Hamilton many times.


Ismail is able to draw together groups of people from different walks of life and manages all the tasks that go with this with grace and patience. He has set a high example of what it means to serve your community and this has benefited so many - with the results forever present in the Hamilton. It is with great pleasure we present his Civic Award today. 

Rei Hagan

Rei is passionate about social justice and she has dedicated many years of her life to redress inequalities working with Save the Children and more recently teaching youth and adults with literacy problems.

Since 1994 Rei has been with Literacy Waikato as a coordinator, co-managing the Hamilton Based Literacy programme. As an adult educator Rei continues to make a positive difference to the lives of hundreds of adults within our community.

Rei has worked tirelessly over the years, she always goes the extra mile - anything from welcoming students to training and supporting volunteers tutors to develop their skills for teaching adults with a range of numeracy and literacy abilities.

She facilitates regular workshops, mentors tutors (both new and experienced) and has supported the organisation through changes in Management structure, as well as leading Literacy Waikato through a national consultation process, turning it into a bi-cultural organisation.

Rei has been recognized by the organisations national body, Literacy Aotearoa, for her contribution and her willingness to share her ideas, her resources and skills with her peers. Her lessons are well planned, vibrant and full of variety. She often travels to students homes if they are unable to come to classes.

Colleagues describe her as an enabling person who makes ideas happen. Examples of this include facilitating whanau literacy programmes fro women at Te Ara Hou, learners at Kirikiriroa Marae, the Papatuanuku programme in Shakespeare Avenue and the Fraser High School programme for Tongan parents.

Frustrated by the lack of low level reading material for adults Rei decided to write her own. Initially starting with funding for 14 professionally illustrated and published books, demand has grown - there are now 46 books in the series and there have been numerous reprints. These resources, developed and produced by Rei are now used in Literacy programmes, private and public tertiary training providers and secondary schools throughout New Zealand.

Rei is an inspirational, skilled leader; a dedicated educator whose caring and welcoming personality has made a significant difference to the lives of many in our community. She is a worthy recipient of the award we bestow on her today.

Mary Hayes

Mary has made a significant difference and instigated positive change for some of the most vulnerable in our community and she is highly valued and respected for her work.

Over many years Mary has shown a commitment far beyond her obligations as a Public Health Nurse, consistently advocating for social and housing services beyond her health brief and was instrumental in a number of initiatives that have lead to the betterment of services within Hamilton.

Mary persistently and successfully endeavored to keep the needs of refugees at the forefront of health decision maker's minds and has acted as a bridge between the Waikato District Health Board and the Multicultural Services Trust.

She has not only been an advocate for refugees and migrants she has been a part of the solution - providing practical support where her own resources have allowed. She assisted in establishing support groups for Somali and Iraqi communities to promote better settlement and awareness of health issues and the medical system in New Zealand. She also assisted with establishment of BCG Clinics at the Waikato Migrant Centre and coordination cultural information session.

Other contributions have included a lead advocate role resulting in the establishment in the position of the Ethnic Liaison Officer with Hamilton City Council and the New Zealand Settlers Focus Group, and written contributions to the New Zealand publication for new settlers.

Now retired, Mary continues to contribute to the community, Earlier this year she became a volunteer member of the Hamilton Multicultural Service Board of Trustees, where her experience and guidance in this governance role continues to define service delivery to refugees and migrants. She also has also taken on other projects: She teaches reading to children in two schools and has undertaken holistic health work with women and children in refuge.

The Hamilton Community is far richer because of the lifetime of work and service contributed by Mary - she is certainly deserving of a Civic Award.

Simon Marriott

Major Simon Marriott has been the leading force for Hamilton's own Military unit - The Waikato Mounted Rifles Squadron. Simon has been the visible presence and motivator for the WMR's, leading not only young, current members, but also former Squadron members, as he has held the position of President of the Waikato Mounted Rifles Association.

Instrumental in restoring the original, historical, title of the Waikato Mounted Rifles to the Squadron that had been renamed Waikato/Wellington East Coast Squadron many years ago Simon can also be credited with breathing life into an ailing association.

He has poured an extraordinary amount of energy and effort into both the squadron and the association. He has assisted with the production of a professionally published book on the history of the Regiment, the first comprehensive history they have had.

With the association on the verge of being wound up Simon found a way to introduce new members and increase the financial support available to the group. The outcome assures the continuity of the Association and, importantly a Social and Welfare Unit, for the benefit of the young serving men and women in the squadron.

Simon has gathered the Squadrons years of memorabilia - trophies, medals and other recognition bestowed over the years and returned them all to their rightful place, the Squadron's Hamilton Office. He has also successfully obtained funding for the group to lay their own commemorative plaques.

He has not only served the Association and the squadron - he has worked tirelessly for the city.

Thanks to Simon's coordination the Squadron has a visible presence in our city - at several community events, always willing to volunteer their time for the community - participating at Commemorations he is an ambassador at Civic functions as well as at National events. The Squadron also volunteers at large events in the city as well as attending emergencies and Natural disasters such as the flooding in Tauranga a few years ago.

The affidavits and support for recognition of Simon's hours, over and above the call of duty all highlight the strong leadership Simon has shown and the time he has freely given for the benefit of the Squadron, the Association and the City of Hamilton. He truly deserves a Civic Award today.

Ellaby Martin

Ellaby has been contributing to Hamilton and its citizens for over fifty years. His diverse interests have ensured he touched may peoples lives and he has also assisted in building facilities that the city values highly today.

Ellaby first became involved with the Hamilton Gardens in 1955 when he began work as a propagator at the Municipal Nursery. He went on to open his own business and became well known as a trainer and mentor for many young people in the horticultural industry. A naturally gifted teacher, he has given his time and expertise generously to any seeking his help in horticultural matters.

In 1977 Ellaby was elected the inaugural president of the Waikato Veteran's Tennis Club. He served in this capacity for four years and was re-elected in 1987. In recognition of his outstanding service and dedication Ellaby was bestowed a life membership, an honour which only four members hold. He still takes an active interest in the club's affairs.

As chairman from 1993 till 1996 of the Hamilton Gardens Advisory Board, he worked resolutely to achieve what he thought was best for the Gardens' wellbeing and expansion. During his term as President of the Friends of Hamilton Gardens (2004-2007) Ellaby oversaw substantial fundraising endeavors for the new information centre, which was developed and built in his term.

Ellaby volunteered to Tutor with English Language Partners in 2003 he underwent training and was "matched" with a small group of adults from Taiwan. Ellaby still meets with his group, they have enjoyed many evenings of roast dinners and lively conversation.

Ellaby was a member of the Board of Management for Hamilton's Riverlea Theatre when they established the community theatre, which is today recognized as one of the leading performing venues in the country. Ellaby was also a committee member of Musikmakers (Hamilton) and has always been very generous with his time, entertaining at various Senior Citizen's Clubs and Retirement Villages. Ellaby initiated a partnership between the Hamilton Gardens and the performing arts community to present a free concert in the gardens which became the base for the Hamilton Summer Arts Festival, an iconic event for Hamilton.

Ellaby has given so much to his community, in so many diverse ways and has not let advancing years dampen his passion and commitment. A true unsung hero he is worthy of this Civic Award.

Gwen Nichols

Gwen's dedication to the care of her Parkinson's Society members - and their caregivers - far exceed that of her job description and part time hours of her employment.

From a background of professional nursing Gwen was appointed to the position of Field Officer Hamilton City/Cambridge for Hamilton's Parkinson Support Group in 1991. Rapid growth of membership occurred and Gwen assisted to establish the Home Visiting programme, which continues today.

In 1994 continued growth saw the registration of the organisation as a Incorporated Society - Parkinsonism Society Waikato Incorporated. With a change of name came a new, wider statement of objectives, Gwen was again involved in this.

With continued growth there have been several new staff appointed and Gwen is the Senior Field officer, responsible for all initial training and support of all the agents and clients in their care.

At the time of the Society's Annual General Meeting in 2005 there were no nominations to fill the position of President, vacated after 15 years by the previous incumbent. Gwen volunteered to take that role and continued, successfully, for the next three years in the dual roles of Senior Field Officer and unpaid president. She is currently on the Committee as the Field Officer Representative.

Gwen's efforts, over 18 years of practice, is inspiring and coupled with her care and concern with people makes her a valued member of the Society's team. Her initiative and skills have always provided cleaver public displays and educational information and she visits rest homes and other organisations to give training seminars and provide information.

Gwen's knowledge, ability, wisdom and vast experience, which she willingly passes to others makes her a truly worthy recipient of this award today.

Betty Pettigrew

For more than ten years Betty has been bringing a little bit of light to people's lives.

Betty coordinates and manages a team of volunteer performers called the "Probus Entertainers". The group visits various rest homes with costumes, props and music to provide an energetic one hour performance for their audiences.

The team presents comedy, musical pieces and dancing for free, constantly updating their ideas to keep their performances fresh and entertaining for the dozen rest homes and Senior Citizens clubs they regularly perform for.

Management and administration of the team falls to Betty. She schedules the programme - often a year in advance and coordinates her team's attendance at venues all around the Hamilton area. Betty also coordinates any donations and manages the groups funds.

The group meets once a week to rehearse and the coordination of the group and their time falls to Betty as well. Betty prepares the music, the venue, arranges facilities for performers and costume changes all in her own time.

Not only does Betty provide entertainment for the groups the Probus Entertainers perform for she provides many hours of enjoyment and pleasure for the entertainers themselves. She works with the team to constantly update and refresh their work, introducing new acts to fit the season, and working together to come up with new ideas and continues to build on previous performances and extend their skills further.

Betty and her team provide a quality professional performance on a regular basis, all done in their own time, and often with their own resources. The hours of preparation and coordination Betty puts into the groups shows and the group are very popular. Betty Pettigrew has bought hours of entertainment to the community and derves this recognition today.

Kees Poortman

Kees started in the volunteer position with the Hamilton Zoo as a host/guide in 1998. He has given time twice a week for close to eleven years - completing over 1000 volunteer days to the to help improve the visiting publics experience at the zoo.

Kees is an asset to the zoo and an integral part of the successful Zoo Volunteer programme. He assists with a recruitment drive for the busy summer months - he is part of the interview process for potential volunteers and once successful applicants are selected he then trains them and acts as a mentor. Every summer he trains and continues to guide over 30 recruits.

Kees is a committed and enthusiastic Zoo Host - he has excellent people skills and is regularly requested by visiting groups to act as a guide. He has been instrumental in promoting the conservation protocols of the zoo to thousands of visitors - explaining the roles of modern zoos in conservation of threatened and endangered species.

Not only does Kees work with the members of the public he is currently a member of the Zoo Host Committee which liaise with the Zoo's management team and he has regularly helped zoo keepers with animal observation when required. He carries out his duties in a competent and enthusiastic manner, working well with staff.

Kees' involvement is much appreciated by the Zoo staff as Hosts play an important role in the proper functioning of the facility and contribute in no small measure to the Zoo's ongoing progress and success.

As one affidavit says: "his contribution to the community is hard to measure but we believe he deserves recognition for a job extremely well done". We are happy to bestow this recognition on Kees today.

Maureen Soanes

For nine consecutive years Maureen has volunteered her time as the event manager for ReStyle (previously called Trash to Fashion). Maureen started the show in 2001 as part of the Festival for the environment, and has managed all aspects of the show each year, leading up to it's tenth anniversary in 2010.

ReStyle is an annual competition transforming everyday waste and enabling art to perform on stage in one of the major events on Hamilton's cultural calendar. The aim of the show is to create awareness of environmental issues but also engage Hamilton talent, especially youth, in being creative.

Maureen has managed all aspects of the show including sponsorship, venue, the competition, judging, advertising and a large crew of volunteers. Over this time she has seen the show grow from 30 garments in Centreplace Mall 2001 to 120 garments and a full house at Founders theatre in 2009.

Without Maureen's effort over the past nine years ReStyle as we know it today would not exist. It has steadily been moving from strength to strength and has become one of Hamilton's premier design events.

In 2008 Maureen set up Trash to Fashion (Waikato) Charitable Trust, and for the 2010 competition she has set up a committee to help with the organisation of the show to not only share the workload, but also in recognition of the growth the show and competition has received in recent years.

With nine years voluntary service, spent creating a professional, quality experience for entrants and audience alike Maureen has given a lot to the Hamilton Community. She is truly a worthy recipient of a Civic Award.

Gladys Stephens

Gladys Stephen has given more than twenty one years of voluntary service to the Hamilton Community and its residents, especially in the case of refugee and Migrant settlers.

Gladys settled in Hamilton in 1988. Her exceptional leadership qualities, skills and charitable heart saw her embark on establishing structural framework to support and assist new arrivals immigrating to New Zealand with integration into their new society.

In the early 1990's Gladys assisted and directed the establishment of the Waikato Filipino Association. The Association embarked on a programme to form a platform for immigrant people to keep an independent cultural identify while settling and assimilating into the New Zealand culture.

Initiatives included National cultural dance performances, concerts, National festivals, English Language Partners and cultural language. Gladys also worked with Social Services for families along with advocacy and referrals for higher education.

The Association carried out fundraising for their continued growth and today the membership has increased five fold since inauguration. Gladys still plays a strong role on the Association and represents the Filipino Association and the Filipino community at large.

In 2002 Gladys took over the volunteer role of Events and Programme manager for Shama Hamilton Ethnic Women's Centre Trust, today Gladys is a Trustee on the Shama Board.

Gladys' commitment to the community has also lead her to take on the role of a Justice of the Peace, appropriate for her strong desire to serve her community. She is also a committee member on the Westside J.P. Branch. Since 2005 she has directed and developed School Holiday programmes for children.

In 2008 Gladys received a prestigious Certificate of Appreciation from the New Zealand Federation of Ethnic Councils in recognition of her valuable contribution to ethnic communities of the Waikato, an indication of how much her work has affected people in the wider community.

Gladys' many years of voluntary service have been carried out wholeheartedly, enhancing the wellbeing of many people and organisations in Hamilton. We are honored to bestow this Civic Award on Gladys today

William (Bill) Taua

Constable Bill Taua is an asset to the Hamilton South Community and his outstanding contribution has positively impacted on the lives of hundreds of members.

Bill never stops working for his community, carrying out his duties as a police officer with a quiet manner that earns respect. Bill's Mana in the community is not just based on how well he does his job as a Community Constable; it is based on the friendships and networks that he has built as a person, and how he consistently gives, over and above his duties that makes him worthy of the award today.

Bill is committed to being involved in the community and lending a hand wherever he can. He was an integral part of the Community Clean up this year, a key player in the Te Whare Kokonga Children's day event and has supports the Tour de Melville community cycle ride.

He has been an important member of the Holiday Programmes in Melville and volunteers on the walking school bus once a week. He has been involved with Blue Light Discos, and community days. With his former police partner he started a puppet show for children as a way of introducing them to a police presence and has been found pitting his sports skills against youth on the basketball and netball courts around Hamilton.

He is persistent and often goes out of his way to see projects succeed and he has bought about several positive changes in the community. He has created a site for community groups and social support networks in a disused property rather than see it become a target for vandalism and unsociable behavior.

Bill recently offered a Learner License course with the Glenview Community Centre. This has been very successful and Bill's active involvement - assisting with planning, seeking sponsorship of resources and the delivery of the course - has demonstrated his passion to execute an idea that could benefit others.

There have been many occasions where Bill's knowledge of his community has been instrumental in bringing about the resolution to a problem or getting others involved. Whether the person he is speaking to is on the ‘right' side or the ‘wrong side of the law makes no difference - he always helps to put the matter right. He does not just look at the surface of an issue but the wider picture, seeking a longer term solution rather than just superficially solving an immediate problem.

The testimonials we received in support of Bill Taua for a civic award were plentiful and overflowing with praise for his dedication to their community but one affidavit sums it up: "The Melville community would not be the same without the determined and understated contribution of Bill. He is known by all but receives very little credit for the wealth of work he undertakes. He is very deserving of recognition of this contribution to the community".

Steve Tritt

In his role as Economic Development Manager for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise Steve has the interests of the economic growth of Hamilton and the Waikato in his sights but he has lead the development of many initiatives in addition to his employment role, benefitting our community in several ways.

No other region in New Zealand comes close to equaling the amount of support that Steve has helped generate. He stretches his role far beyond expectations, this is proven by the large number of successful projects and grants that have been made to enable our city to grow. Steve's commitment and enthusiasm are evident and he is an effective motivator and collaborator - bringing people together with the right blend of attributes to complement his drive and passion.

Steve has provided a unique perspective in recognizing the need for balance in developing the local economy where the cultural and social needs are encouraged to provide the basics for sound economic growth alongside the more traditional economic development drivers.

In 2006 Steve coordinated a Farmers Market Workshop in Hamilton in support of fledgling initiatives that were being considered in the city. We now have a very successful, regular, Farmers Market and there are other similar markets in the region.
In the same year Steve funded the first cheese maker's course in Hamilton at AgResearch. Recently the Waikato Region took out Major prizes in the National Cheese Making competition in Auckland in both Artisan and export Cheese categories.

Steve has secured funding for Place making experts, which contributed to the development of the City's Creativity and Identity strategy. Alongside SPARK in 2008 Steve obtained sponsorship for the delivery of Pecha Kucha in Hamilton. Pecha Kucha is a creative presentation concept where local artists and designers have a forum to present. This event is managed by Wintec and is now delivered three times a year.

Steve has also worked outside his employment role with Museum on the DaVinci machines, with Wintec on the development of SODA creative incubator, with Waikato Chamber of Commerce and with various student programmes at Waikato University and Management School.

Steve has contributed much to the city through several organisations and is worthy of the Civic Award we give him today.

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