Charlie Death with his civic honour and ASB Good as Gold award, two of his proudest achievements in more than 20 years on the Eketahuna Community Board.PHOTOS/GEORGE SHIERS.
Eketahuna Community Board chairperson Charlie Death is announcing his retirement 24 years after he was first sworn in.
Death, whose family has lived in the region for more than 120 years, joined the board in 1998, and has served under three mayors.
Death was a member for the first 12 years and had led the board as chairperson for the last 12.
He said and would continue to act as chair until November, when the next person would be sworn in.
Death said one of his biggest achievements was creating a turnoff bay in Eketahuna for truck drivers to rest, but he said the work was really about helping the community.
“I’ve really enjoyed working with people – you’re always going to have interesting people out there.
“Anzac Day is one of the biggest things for the board each year. It’s a lot of work.”
Death also talked of the town upgrades and beautification, which included things such as the giant kiwi and murals, and said the changes meant more people were choosing to stop in the town.
“If you’re driving along, you see things at eye level, and they make you want to stop.
“And the name Eketahuna – it sells itself, and it has done for many years.”
Other achievements Death was proud of include being presented with a civic honour for community service and receiving the ASB Good as Gold award, which included $5000 towards the community and $5000 ‘pocket money’, some of which was used on an overseas trip.
Death had worked as a driver taking people to medical appointments and was in charge of the local Civil Defence, when Eketahuna was rocked by earthquake in 2014.
“When the earthquake happened, I heard on the radio that it was centred in Eketahuna.
I immediately raced back, and found people had already been checking on the elderly.
“It’s rewarding knowing that you put in place your procedures, and it worked.”
As well as his many high points, Death talked about his lows, which included when he was shot in a hunting accident.
“I was laid up in bed for three months.
“When you’re stuck in bed, the things you miss most are going to the toilet and showers.
“I’m so lucky, realistically, it could have been much worse.
“It’s all about attitude. You’ve got to have the right attitude.”
When asked what he would be doing next, Death said he would still be involved with the community in a less formal fashion, but it was time to take some time for himself.
“I’ve still got a farm I have to look after.
“I’ll still be there if they [the community board] need some guidance – I won’t leave them in the lurch.
“But you’ve got to allow them to find their own way.”