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Community spirit abundant

Waiohine Action Group members, Bruce Slater [left], Michael Hewison, John Boon [back], Michael Roera, and Colin Wright, with South Wairarapa Mayor Viv Napier at the Civic Awards in Martinborough. WAG members absent were Mike Ashby, James Flanagan, and Jock McNaught. PHOTO/PETE MONK

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South Wairarapa’s movers and shakers were celebrated at an awards ceremony in Martinborough on Monday night.

The Waiohine Action Group took away the top accolade at the South Wairarapa District Council 2019 Civic Awards, which are held every few years to recognise individuals, groups and organisations that contribute significantly to the well-being of the community.

WAG won the Services to the Environment Award as well as the overall Supreme Award for South Wairarapa citizens of the year.

The WAG project team consists of eight members who worked hard on behalf of Greytown and Carterton ratepayers over many months to come up with a Waiohine River flood management plan, after the community rejected a proposal by Greater Wellington Regional Council.

The group’s efforts reduced ratepayer liability from an initial $10 million price tag to between $2m and $3m.

WAG facilitator John Boon said the “groundbreaking” project was unique in that it dealt with the Waiohine River as a holistic entity.

It is estimated the multi-skilled group have so far contributed about 12,000 voluntary hours to the project, which will deliver widespread benefits to the environment and emergency management.

Martinborough’s Maree Roy took home the Community Service Award for an individual.

Roy, who can often be spotted around town walking her dogs and picking up rubbish, is involved in many groups and organisations, including the Red Cross, and helped establish the Martinborough Music Festival.

She co-ordinates and delivers meals on wheels, and has pitched in to help in the Wharekaka Rest Home kitchen when there was a shortage of cooks. Roy said it was about making the world a better place.

“Your vision might be global, but you start out local with your immediate surroundings.”

The Community Service Award to a group had two winners, the Greytown Menz Shed and Featherston’s Own Charitable Trust.

The Arts and Culture Award went to the Featherston Camp Sculpture Trust, which is responsible for the Paul Dibble sculpture, Featherston Stand-He Tino Mamoa, which was unveiled and dedicated to the nation on the centenary of Armistice Day.

The trust raised $600,000 for the installation, which commemorates the Featherston Military Training Camp, where over 60,000 soldiers trained during World War I.

Trust secretary Jean McDowall said the project was the result of “a lot of determination and hard work”.

The sculpture was the dream of the late Dr Bernard Jervis.

“The award is an absolute tribute and vindication to Bernard’s vision,” McDowall said.

“We hope the Featherston Stand will continue to be a focal point for Featherston and New Zealand history for generations to come.”

The Featherston Amateur Wrestling Club took away the Sports Award.

The club has been going since about the 1930s and has produced Commonwealth Games medal winners and Olympic representatives.

Today it boasts 80 to 100 members and competes at a national level.

The Young Achiever Award went to Alexander J [AJ] Southey, for his contribution to arts and culture in the district.

He was Kuranui College deputy dux in 2018 and served as a student representative on the Greytown Community Board.

Southey was a catalyst in the rejuvenation of Greytown Little Theatre, introducing the Kuranui drama students into its regular activities.

South Wairarapa Mayor Viv Napier said the impressive number of nominees was testament to a “caring and talented” district.

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