New resident honoured
He may be a recent arrival from Auckland, but Central Hawke’s Bay’s lone 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours recipient is more than happy to be claimed as a local and says he is looking forward to using his skills to make a difference in the community.
Richard Jeffery, who moved to Ashley Clinton six months ago, was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) on Monday for services to governance and the community, recognising his work in South Auckland over the past 18 years.
Until a few weeks ago, Mr Jeffery was commuting to Auckland as chief executive of the Second Nature Charitable Trust, a position he had held since the trust was formed in 2000 by Sir Noel Robinson.
His citation said as the trust’s founding chief executive, Mr Jeffery had overseen the raising of $100 million to establish two community facilities in South Auckland: the Vodafone Events Centre, which since opening in 2000 has enabled four million people to take part in school and community programmes, as well as the Vector Wero Whitewater Park, which opened in 2016.
At the events centre, he had established the largest free schools programme in New Zealand for the performing arts, which attracts 36,000 students a year, while the Olympicstandard whitewater park is used by 5000 students a year for water safety and confidence building programmes, as well as providing an elite training facility for Canoe Slalom NZ.
A Lincoln Agricultural College “dropout”, who went on to work for some of the largest hotel chains in New Zealand and the world before progressing into venue management, Mr Jeffery said he and Sir Noel Robinson established the trust with the aim of creating financially sustainable community assets in the deprived South Auckland area.
“We did that with the Vodafone Events Centre — a 700-seat performing arts centre and 3000-seat indoor arena and conference centre.
“Once that was successful we looked at what other projects could achieve something of national and international significance that could still be used by the South Auckland community, and that was the Vector Wero Whitewater Park.
“It’s an international-standard whitewater slalom venue but more importantly for us, we get over 5000 kids a year through it learning water safety programmes in moving water, and [taking part in] youth development programmes about building confidence, taking risks,” he said.
While the two facilities were major achievements, Mr Jeffrey said his greatest accomplishment was investing in the future of youth.
“The bricks-and-mortar stuff has to come first, but what I am most proud of is number of kids using the [facilities] and that they are self-sufficient — they don’t require subsidies from ratepayers like other venues of that type around the world.”
At the relatively young age of 52, Mr Jeffrey said he was “blown away” to be made an ONZM.
“It’s very humbling. But also I think it’s great recognition for what we — the trust — achieved as a team.”
With plans to step down from the trust, Mr Jeffery and wife Michelle Goodman purchased the John Scott-designed Wallop Hall situated on 2ha of gardens at Ashley Clinton off SH50, six months ago.
Michelle now works at Sherwood School and though he officially left the trust a few weeks ago, he is continuing to do pro bono work for the Rising Foundation Trust, which mentors 300 South Auckland kids each year.
Though enjoying growing a bread in “semi-retirement,” he is still involved in governance roles after recently taking up his first commercial directorship with Hastings-founded micro-brewery manufacturer, Williams Warn.
He also hoped to be able to use his skills and network of contacts to benefit the CHB community down the track.
“People are so friendly and welcoming — Michelle is absolutely loving it.
“And with her working at the school, it’s a great way for us to get know the community, so we are definitely keen to get involved.
“As you get older you tend to go back to your youth and I grew up in Southland, so I have loved connecting back with rural New Zealand — the real New Zealand. I just love the area and the people.”
The couple had a long connection to Hawke’s Bay, having owned a holiday beachside house at Bayview north of Napier, but in Ashley Clinton they had found “the perfect place,” Mr Jeffery said.
“Michelle always wanted a garden, which she couldn’t have at the beach, so that keeps me busy. And I am really enjoying, of all things, Waipukurau Bridge Club. I am learning how to play bridge to keep the brain ticking over.”
Other Hawke’s Bay people recognised in the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours
Robert Kerridge, of Havelock North, the Executive Director of the SPCA in Auckland from 1984 until 2016, was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to animal welfare and governance. Caren Rangi, of Tamatea in Napier, the National President of the Pacific women’s council PACIFICA Inc. from 2015 to 2017, was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to the Pacific community and governance.
Des Ratima, of Whakatu¯ in Hastings, chairman of the marae collective Nga¯ Marae O Heretaunga and chairman of Whakatu¯ Kohanga Reo for 10 years, was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to Ma¯ ori.
Ray Mettrick, of Havelock North, who founded and led the annual Riverbend Camp Cricket Tournament from 1980 to 2002 and a Life Member of the Hawke’s Bay Cricket Association since 2011, was awarded the Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) for services to cricket.
Ashley Clinton’s Richard Jeffery was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in Monday’s Queen’s Birthday Honours.