2015 Civic Awards citations.
What has he done for the Christchurch Children’s Theatre? Ask rather…. what has he not done? His first appearance on the boards of the Christchurch Children’s Theatre was in a production of ‘Robin Hood’ in 1969. Since then he has been involved in both stage work and committee positions for the Children’s Theatre, the Elmwood Players, the Rangiora Dramatic Society, and the Malthouse Theatre Trust. He has contributed countless hours to rehearsals and performances, to stage direction and set construction, to meetings and committee work, and to fundraising and project management. He was a key player in the construction of the Elmwood Normal School’s auditorium at all stages from fund-raising to planning and design. His magnum opus, however, must be the old Malthouse Theatre in Colombo Street. In the mid 1990s he shouldered both the tasks of fundraising for, and the project management of, the strengthening of the old building…. a project that ensured that it survived – albeit heavily damaged - the earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Since those disasters he has supervised restoration and repair work which will see an invaluable asset of both theatre and heritage preserved well into the future. Both on and off stage he is indeed a star.
As if earthquake damage was not enough to mar the face of the City, Christchurch is further blighted by taggers and graffiti scribblers. From out the shadows they sneak, adding insult to injury as they scrawl their mindless smears over any available blank space. But all is not lost! A hero stands forth to push back the tide of daubings and to frustrate the vandals. For years he was actively involved in the reporting and removal of graffiti using nothing more than his own resources. Then, in mid 2010, he was formally enlisted as an Off-the-Wall volunteer with the Christchurch City Council’s anti-graffiti programme. Most of these volunteers attended to graffiti in their own neighbourhoods. Not him! Despite being, at eighty-six, the oldest registered worker, he covers a huge area including Mona Vale, Merivale, Papanui, the Central Business District, Riccarton, and Strowan. Not everybody appreciates his efforts, and he has been the subject of abuse on several occasions, one of which included being confronted by a knife-wielding thug, but he remains undaunted in his efforts keep Christchurch clean and beautiful.
No one activity or event can be singled out as his achievement….. Rather, it is the accumulated weight of a lifetime as an outstanding educator in the field of geography, a researcher into rural studies, and a promoter of indigenous studies and respect for the Treaty of Waitangi in university teaching and research programmes. With the Geography Department of the University of Canterbury, he has led research interests in Treaty claims, the work of the Waitangi Tribunal, the relationships between Treaty settlements and the Resource Management Act, and the interface between matauranga/Maori traditional ecological knowledge and modern science. He has acted as a consultant for the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization in the matter of the relationships between globalization and climate change in Asia, Latin America, and Africa. He has pursued extensive research into the impacts of lifestyle blocks and dairy conversions on the rural communities of Canterbury. He has published extensively in the fields of geography and the rights of indigenous peoples, his writing informed not only by his scientific knowledge but also by his faith as a Lay Minister of the Methodist Congregation. His priceless gift to his community, local, national and global, is that of a clearer understanding of the world.
For the last two and a half decades she has worked passionately and vigorously for the protection of the heritage buildings of Christchurch and Canterbury. The list of the organizations with which she has been involved, often as a founder, is too extensive to catalogue in full, ranging from the Hagley Ferrymead Community Board Heritage Awards to Art and Industry, now known as Scape Public Art. She initiated and formed the Christchurch Heritage Trust and Christchurch Heritage Limited, which recently purchased the Trinity Congregational Church and Shand’s Emporium, saving both from almost certain destruction. She was a member of the Arts Centre Board of Trustees for years, and of the Kate Sheppard Memorial Trust. Since 2001 he has been a Director of the Isaac Theatre Royal, taking an active part in the preservation of the heritage features of what is now a unique building. She chaired the Canterbury Earthquake Heritage Buildings Trust Board from 2010 to 2014, and initiated and formed the Christchurch Heritage Awards Charitable Trust in 2009. She has led the charge, often in the face of strong opposition from vested interests, in the fight for the preservation and conservation of the City’s unique architectural heritage. Her work shall be remembered for generations to come.
A humble man of great aroha, he has for twenty years been both kaumatua and cultural advisor to a broad range of organizations in Christchurch and Canterbury. He is currently Chair of Kaiwhakamana of Canterbury, leading the group of kaumatua and kuia who give pastoral care to Maori prison inmates, helping them to identify who they are and why they are offending, and breaking down the barriers that often prevent prisoners from getting assistance in the community. He is the former Chair of the Maori Community Leaders’ Forum, a group established in the wake of the 2010 and subsequent earthquakes to ensure that the general Maori population of Canterbury shares a collective voice in the recovery and rebuild of the City and the Province. He provides cultural support and advice in his position as Maori Advisor to the Canterbury Police District Commander, the NZ Police STU, and NZ Police Area Commanders. He is a much respected kaumatua of Rehua Marae, Te Rangimarie Marae and Taurahere O Waitaha, and provides kaumatua support for a number of other bodies including Cashmere High School, Diabetes Christchurch, St. Martins Primary School and the NZ Breastfeeding Authority. To both the Maori of Christchurch and the wider community of all ethnicities he is truly a living taonga.
The Canterbury A&P Show is without doubt New Zealand’s premier agricultural event. For one hundred and fifty three years it has brought the country to town, reaffirming over the generations the rural underpinning of New Zealand’s economy. For more than twenty-five of those years she has been a volunteer with the Show and with the A&P Association, rising from Equestrian Steward to Member of the Horse Committee, to Chair of the Horse Committee. In 2008 she was appointed Ringmaster, the first woman ever to hold that exalted position. In 2003 she joined the General Committee of the Association, and this year was appointed President, the first woman in the Association’s long history to hold the top role. She works tirelessly for hundreds of hours each year for the Association, not only for the Horse Committee but also for other Association events such as the Spring into Action Horse and Pony Training Show, and the Boys’ and Girls’ Agricultural Day. A constant presence in the organisers’ office, she offers invaluable advice and leadership on all aspects of equestrian competition. Her dedication and commitment, and her extraordinary attention to detail, help to ensure that the Canterbury A&P Show is the greatest show in the land.
He developed and advanced a school programme that seeks to teach students how to develop businesses and projects in a socially responsible manner. The programme gives instruction not only in the techniques of commercial development, but also the consequences of that development. It teaches the awareness that such enterprises are about much more than monetary gain, that they are also about the improvement in the quality of the lives of the individuals and the communities that they touch. It teaches the principle, far from universally applied in today’s world, that giving back is even more important than taking out, that community engagement is even more important than commercial investment. He is a passionate educator working without acknowledgment, and has been involved with a long list of educational bodies including the University of Canterbury, Kingslea School, Halswell Residential School, Our Lady of Victories School, and St. Thomas of Canterbury, to name just a few. Many individuals and organizations have benefitted from his social enterprise programme, their achievements winning many awards as well as governmental recognition, whilst he, the motor behind those achievements, receives none. The City of Christchurch is proud to be able to rectify in some small way that oversight.
Committees and programmes are all very well, but they are of little use without passionate and hard-working individuals to guide them, and there can be no question as to his passion or his diligence. Over the past three decades, the City of Christchurch has opened its doors to an increasingly diverse range of new residents, and business links have been created with all manner of non-traditional interests. Many of these hail from eastern Asia, and the process of integration has at times been complex. Smoothing the path has been the work of the Sister City programme, of which he was a key participant for many years. As a member of the Songpa-Gu Sister City Committee and later as its Chairman, he has played host to many visiting dignitaries, establishing firm friendships, and building those cordial personal relationships based on honesty and openness that ensure that, not only do doors open, but that they remain open. As Honorary Consul to the Republic of Korea for four years and also as a staunch supporter of the Canterbury Korea Veterans Association he has been an outstanding advocate for the Korean people in Christchurch and an exceptional proponent of cultural understanding.
Poverty is an ever-present, ever-growing, blight within our community, the result of many factors within the increasingly complex equation of modern life, many of which are beyond the control of individuals. The Christchurch Budget Service assists those in financial difficulty to establish workable household budgets and provides strategies for debt reduction. The Service offers guidance through the often baffling bureaucracies of agencies such as Work and Income, and Inland Revenue, with whom the poverty-stricken inevitably come into contact. For over twenty years she was, to a large extent, the Christchurch Budget Service, first as a volunteer and later as a paid worker. Coming to the Service after a career as the manager of a legal practice and as an independent tax consultant, she brought with her an invaluable mix of both accounting and management skills, as well as a natural gift of empathy. When she joined, the Service was very much a grass-roots, amateur body. Over the years she transformed it into a professional organization with Budget Advisors capable of assisting a greater range of people presenting with increasingly complex problems. Her work and good offices have ensured the greater well-being and financial independence of many hundreds of the most vulnerable members of society.
The Christchurch Youth Council aims to create connections with decision makers to influence positive social change for the benefit of young people, to engage young people by canvassing their opinions on all matters concerning youth, and to provide them with opportunities to become involved in the running of their City. A member of CYC for three years, she is now Chairperson of this dynamic organization. As such her duties are manifold….. she runs Youth Council meetings and attends countless youth sector meetings and forums, local government consultations, and other events to provide a youth perspective. She organizes a team of ten volunteers and one paid staff member, and provides leadership and direction at Youth Council Events such as WESPEAK 2015, the Brick by Brick Leadership Hui, and Face2Face events. She has selflessly and tirelessly led her team from the front and has taken responsibility for developing, mentoring and encouraging them to work together in a productive and effective manner. She has brought new members under her wing, enabling them to grow in confidence, all the while encouraging her team to contribute many hundreds of hours of voluntary service to their community. She is an inspiration to her generation, and a touchstone for the future.
Apart from war zones, few communities world-wide would have greater awareness of the need for a skilled and responsive Civil Defence organisation than Christchurch. For twenty years one man has been at the centre of Civil Defence Emergency Management and is in large part responsible for its current excellence. In 1996 he was given the responsibility of disaster management planning, and soon developed an agreement with Environment Canterbury, who at that time managed Civil Defence for the City. In 2005 the CDEM arrangement was brought under the aegis of the City Council. In 2007 the Rural Fire Service was incorporated within the CDEM where it remains today. He has worked endlessly and tirelessly to increase the professionalism and functionality of Civil Defence and its many ramifications, gathering together a team to facilitate public awareness, the education of businesses, the organization of volunteer groups to help in times of need, and co-ordinate with partner agencies such as the Police, Fire and Ambulance authorities to ensure that all work together smoothly. He has increased the capacity of the various territorial authorities of the region to meet, respond to, and recover from emergencies of all sorts. Without his work, Canterbury would be less safe, its people less secure.
It is a reality of the human psyche that time and the mind gradually soften the raw edges of present experience into the smooth curves of history, which in their turn blur down into the simple and simplistic narratives of legend and folk tale. His gift to Christchurch has been to ensure that the enormity and immediacy of those fateful few seconds that began at nine minutes to one on the afternoon of the twenty-second of February 2011 are there on record to be shared by all. The motion picture feature “When a City Falls”, the television series “From the Streets”, and the short film “Is it time for a locally led recovery?” document both the earthquake and its effects on those who experienced it, and the consequences of the disaster on the City of Christchurch and on New Zealand as a whole. Thanks to his cinematographic skills, his considerable artistic talents, and many thousands of hours of hard work he has ensured that those few brief moments that changed the life of Christchurch forever shall be forever available to future Cantabrians to experience for themselves. In this way they, too, may share directly in the defining event of a generation.
When the word ‘heritage’ is spoken in Christchurch, it all too often conjures up images of stately Gothic Revival buildings, of gracious gardens, or dignified statues. Often forgotten are the technical and engineering wonders of the Victorian and Edwardian eras, few more marvellous than the generation and distribution of electricity. Sadly, old machinery is usually seen simply as old junk to be cleared away. It takes a clear vision to see that such artefacts are priceless and irreplaceable relics of our past, part of the crucible in which modern science and technology were forged. There is a group with such vision. More than eighteen years ago they could see what an old industrial building and a heap of bits and pieces truly represented. Incorporating themselves into a Trust in 1997, they have worked diligently and tirelessly for eighteen years to restore the old hydro-generating set at Akaroa and to bring it back to crackling life. Thanks to their dedication, the historic brick building has been restored and earthquake-strengthened and, a little over a hundred years after it was first switched on, electricity is again being generated to the delight and edification of a large number of visitors.
Once upon a time Christchurch held a clear and well-defined perception of its identity, a perception that has been fractured under the stress of the earthquakes of the past five years. At such times people can draw comfort for a while by looking back to the homelands from which they or their forebears came to this new land, to wear the traditional clothes, eat the traditional foods, perform the traditional rituals, and to sing the old, old songs that come down from the ancestors. For a while people can look forward by looking back, drawing nourishment from their deep cultural roots that the new shoots of tomorrow’s foliage will flourish ever greener. For more than a hundred and thirty years the Caledonian Society has opened its doors to all who identify with Scotland. The old hall is gone, lost to the earthquakes, and a new hall has been constructed, but the society is not its buildings. It is the community of the Scots of Canterbury and here forever the Saltire proudly flies, and the skirl of the pipes fills the air. By the Society’s example, the ancient Scottish virtues of honesty, integrity, and loyalty continue to inspire and inform the ever-evolving values of the culture of Christchurch.
Despite all the safeguards that modern technology can provide, the sea remains an alien world where death can strike, swiftly, silently, and without warning. While those who dip their toes in its waters take their lives in their hands, they can take comfort in the knowledge that provided they swim between the flags the guardian angels are watching over them. Seven clubs of these watchers guard the beaches of Canterbury. Over the 2014-2015 season they gave close to ten thousand hours of patrols, interacted with more than five thousand people who were behaving in a potentially dangerous manner, and directly saved the lives of at least forty-seven souls. Male and female, young and old, and coming from all walks of life, they train regularly in all surf conditions to ensure that they have the skills and confidence to keep the beaches of Canterbury as safe as is humanly possible, for the enjoyment of the people of Canterbury. They give countless hours of their free time honing their first aid skills and working with other agencies such as Search and Rescue, the Coast Guard, and the Rescue Helicopter. Their funding comes entirely from the City Council and from fundraising in the community. The next life they save could well be yours.
Photographer Neil Macbeth.