Saluting those who did their communities proud
There was a lot of pride around Porirua and Tawa this year. In such communities, people make the difference, whether in the realm of social work, teaching, politics, the arts, sport or elsewhere. They inspire us to want better for the places we live.
In 2015, a dominant shadow was cast by the Porirua 50th celebrations. With it came the brilliant exercise of handing out specially made medals to 50 individuals and couples, mostly unsung, who helped their community.
Folk like Ken Taase, Kerry Delaney and John Cody deserved to be put on a pedestal, even for just for one glittering night.
On the political front, the popular pair of Porirua mayor Nick Leggett and ManaMP Kris Faafoi were ever-present. Faafoi may not be making a massive bang on the national stage, but his work at local level is outstanding.
He advocates strongly on social issues, particularly poverty and housing, and his accessibility must be applauded.
Leggett, too, is available and in touch with what residents in his city care about.
Though the super-city decision did not go in his favour, Leggett did not stay down long. There is talk he may run for the Wellington mayoralty in 2016.
Around the Porirua City Council table, standouts were Euon Murrell, Ken Douglas, Izzy Ford and Bronwyn Kropp. At least two of them will not be running for re-election next year and their loss will be keenly felt.
In sport, Daniel Hillier, Craig Caldwell, Ngarama Milner-Olsen, Steve Kent and Liam McDowell graced our pages often and did Porirua proud.
Art has a massive presence in the Porirua basin and Pataka Art + Museum is where this is shown off. Its willingness to highlight local talent is a credit to museum boss Reuben Friend and his predecessor Helen Kedgley.
Allan Dodson and his work researching the Porirua people who served in World War I, which culminated in an Anzac exhibition at Pataka, was an impressive piece of labour.
On the honours lists this year, Craig Utting and Liz Sneyd were recognised for their tireless commitment to Virtuoso Strings, while Teaku Petaia, Tom Etuata and Daniel Muthumala were given gongs for service to their respective Pacific and Sri Lankan communities.
Plimmerton’s Paul Swallow was also made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for his work in business and the Christchurch community following the 2011 earthquake.
On a sombre note, Porirua was saddened to lose Jerry Collins, Ivan Hardgrave and Mat Whitford. Well-known in the city, they were celebrated for their lives and their devotion to the city they adored so much.
We look forward to toasting the work of our people in 2016.