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Following in her father’s footsteps

Despite contributing 30 years of service to the Carterton community, Patricia Smith can’t believe she did anything to deserve a Queen’s Service Medal.

“When you’re doing these good things, you never think about anything else apart from helping.”

She also thought about her father, who got an MBE [member of the British Empire] for his service in the Wairarapa County Council.

Smith’s community service was spread among many Wairarapa organisations. She was Rotary Carterton president, Carterton Plunket President and New Zealand Plunket Society Wairarapa district representative [which covered Pahiatua to Lower Hutt]. She was part of Harlequin Theatre as front-of-house manager, executive and vice -president, and later awarded life member.

Among organising ushers, bartenders and tickets, she also transported elderly theatre-goers – so many that she and her husband had to take separate cars.

As part of Rotary Carterton, she organised the New Zealand-Australia Student Exchange and the international exchange.

It included a trip to the South Island with 31 teenagers of more than 10 different nationalities with two other adult helpers.

“There was a French girl who smoked, and she hid the cigarettes under her mattress. When we went bungy jumping, a Swiss boy didn’t want to and said, ‘I’m not that stupid’. The German girl did the bungy jump three times.”

Another trip involving a safari to Rotorua turned sour when a student got sick, but her host family were out of town when they tried to send her home.”

Until 2020, Smith and her husband also did voluntary driving for the Wairarapa Cancer Society.

“My friend had to travel to Palmerston North for treatment but I couldn’t find a driver. I said ‘don’t worry, I can take you’.

“Next thing I was driving people over the hill all the time.”

While some cancer patients were too unwell for car conversation, she met a few great characters.

Helen Holt
Helen Holt
Helen Holt is a reporter at the Wairarapa Times-Age and enjoys reporting on a variety of topics, regularly covering Wairarapa events, tourism, local businesses, and the occasional health story.

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