Plimmerton man honoured
He may have lived in Porirua for 14 years, but Christchurch occupies a big chunk of Paul Swallow’s heart.
The Plimmerton resident was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday honours, for services to the state and the community.
He was recognised for his work with Business New Zealand in the aftermath of the 2011 Christchurch earthquake and then as director of the Christchurch Earthquake Appeal Trust.
Today, Swallow is the project manager of the Christchurch Justice and Emergency Services Precinct building project.
‘‘It’s incredibly humbling to receive this honour,’’ he said.
‘‘When we were sitting on the couch that night, watching the footage of the earthquakes on TV, I knew I had to do something. It’s been a huge part of my life these past few years and it’s great to know that people are taking the time to look at the impact or difference I’ve made.’’
Swallow said taking a trip over Christchurch in an Iroquois helicopter to survey the damage was something he would never forget.
He was not based in the city for Business NZ or once the appeal trust got up a head of steam, but always felt part of the rebuilding community. He said he had a dedicated team around him at the trust.
‘‘I would go down frequently and when you’re talking to people about what they were facing in their lives, or sports groups that had lost their clubrooms, it was very affecting.
‘‘I felt very committed to what I was doing to help. At no time did I want to leave the work behind and move on to something else until I’d seen everything through.’’
The trust’s work came with a large amount of satisfaction, distributing money to worthy sections of the Christchurch community, Swallow said. There is only a small amount of administration left with the trust today, which he is happy to look after.
Swallow, 48, grew up in Wellington and, after a time in London, moved to Plimmerton in 2001. He said he loved the people, fresh air and natural beauty of Porirua.
His desire to help people came from his parents, who worked for St John’s Ambulance, and he said he had striven to follow their example.
Swallow started his own service to others at 8, doing first aid on Kilbirnie rugby fields.
He has also volunteered with the Helping Hands Foundation in Wellington, Youth for Christ in Lower Hutt and the Plimmerton Community Trust. He was a key contributor to the establishment of the Parachute Music Festival in the 1980s.
Plimmerton’s Paul Swallow has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.