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Community Volunteer Award

‘Community Volunteer of the Year’ was set up to recognise the amazing contributions made by the many volunteers who step forward to make Paihia a wonderful place in which to live, work and play.

Each year a winner will be presented with a carving and their name will be added to the Community Volunteer of the Year Honours board located at the Focus Paihia Op Shop. 

Judith and Dene Harrison

2023 Recipient

JUDITH AND DENE HARRISON have been committed supporters of Paihia Football Club for over 25 years. In fact, the club would possibly not exist but for them. With a membership of over 200 players the Harrisons have done everything including:

Coaching, team management, refereeing, drivers. fund raisers, grant application (to keep subs affordable), caterers, cleaners, painters, mowers, line markers, field set-up/down, Club Chair, Club Secretary, Club Captain, minute taker, you name it.

Over this time more than 1,000 players have benefitted from their untiring efforts, mostly children from ages 5 and up Paihia Football is held in high regard in Northland, always punching above its weight.

Nadia Lehmann

2023 Recipient

NADIA LEHMANN would be the first to suggest that she is simply one of many people who Volunteer their time for the benefit of others. And she would be right.

However, Focus would make the point that she is often more than just a participant she is an enthusiastic driving force behind multiple charity events. Daffodil day, Poppy Day, the Birdman event in Russell. Through Rotary she is often the first to support multiple beach events, tidy the Waitangi Roundabout, and recently represented B of I Rotary down in the Hawkes Bay helping with the clear up there.

The biggest reason for this award is that she does all these things – because she cares. Focus Paihia celebrates the Heart of individuals like Nadia.

Rex Wilson

2022 Recipient

REX WILSON was nominated for his outstanding services to the community. As a volunteer chief fire officer, Rex was recently honoured for a quarter century's service to the Paihia community, heading the brigade for the past seven years. He says his reason for giving so much time and energy to the brigade is simple. "People say they do it for the community but I do it for me, for the satisfaction I get from helping the community. And being chief is cool because you get to support other brigade members to do that as well." Rex leads a team of 30 or so brigade members, and in the last couple of years has extended into Fire Emergency NZ as a Volunteer Support officer - bringing his skills to an even wider extended community. Rex said no particular call-out stood out from the past 25 years — the minor incidents could be just as memorable as big fires and natural disasters — but tsunami warnings, with the large numbers of people evacuated from vulnerable areas, were Paihia brigade's biggest logistical challenge. Always calm under pressure, Rex leads from the front at incidents and emergencies, and supports the team in their progression - commanding respect from many. Rex moves quickly, as a champion Olympic marathon runner in the 90's - he knows a thing or 2 about agility, grit and determination. He can often be seen leaving his wife Fiona running their shop GoldnGifts, as he runs off to put out yet another fire of some description Rex was not there to accept his award as he was out fighting fires, so the award was accepted by members of the PAIHIA VOLUNTEER FIRE BRIGADE on his behalf.

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Kath Williams

2021 Recipient

In August 2011, David Engwicht, the founder and director of Creative Communities International Pty. Ltd., who has worked all over the world helping make great public spaces, ran a two-day workshop in Paihia with over 70 locals attending to see what ‘place making’ projects could take place in Paihia, using $5,000 that had been previously raised for the exercise. Four potential projects emerged, one being the idea of setting up an Op Shop, which KATH WILLIAMS suggested she should implement. So, the shop was set up, and the town began donating goods. In a few short months $45,000 was raised! The shop has now been running for 10 years, and is stronger than ever. After moving twice during this time, we now occupy our own facility at a fraction of the costs we were paying out when we were tenants. A fantastic legacy for future years. Kath continues to volunteer her time to manage the shop. She has built up a fantastic team of volunteers along the way, who run the shop at no cost to the Trust. The Op Shop is now the biggest contributor to our coffers, even during these Covid times. It is because of this extraordinary dedication that Kath has shown for our town that the Trust believed she was the rightful recipient of this year’s Community Volunteer of the Year award. Congratulations Kath, our community is so fortunate to have a person like you. Kath was presented with a beautiful trophy, carved specifically for this award by carver ARAMA DAVIS, and was also given a voucher for a meal for two, including a bottle of wine at TERRA RESTAURANT, who once again kindly donated this part of the prize. Thank you, Marcus and Sarah, of Terra Restaurant, your support is so appreciated!

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