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Our finest honoured

Shane McManaway was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. PHOTO/FILE

Two make the New Year list

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The people who most deserve recognition tend to be the most humble, a rule that holds true with Shane McManaway and Yvonne O’Dowd.

The Carterton residents have been named in the 2022 New Year Honours List for services to their communities, and while gratified, both said the honour was completely unexpected.

McManaway of Gold Creek Charolais farm and developer of Five Rivers Medical Centre was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit [MNZM] for his agriculture and community services.

Carterton Foodbank president and long-time volunteer O’Dowd received a Queen’s Service Medal [QSM] for services to the community.

The Order of New Zealand, the New Zealand Order of Merit and the Queen’s Service Order, and associated Queen’s Service Medal comprised the three orders of the New Zealand Royal Honours System.

The individuals honoured were initially recommended by the Prime Minister and approved by the Queen in two announcements each year, on the Queen’s Birthday and New Year.

O’Dowd and McManaway were two of the 183 New Zealanders recognised in the New Year Honours list and the only residents of Wairarapa.

McManaway, who was acknowledged as a leader in the agricultural industry in his MNZM appointment, said the letter came as a “great surprise”.

“I thought it had potentially gone to the wrong person. I wondered why the Governor-General would be writing to me.

“There is no way I would have expected it.”

McManaway founded the Platinum Primary Producers Group [PPP] in 2005, a collective of more than 130 primary producers across Australasia.

Over the years, the PPP conferences have helped raise money for causes close to home, including more than $40,000 for Pirinoa School and the Catwalk Spinal Cord Injury Research Trust, founded by former equestrian, Catriona Williams.

McManaway said Williams had been a guest speaker at one conference and that farmers were more than willing to reach into their own pockets.

“[As] a local lass, it was only fitting that we would raise money to help spinal research.”

McManaway said he grew up in a “very loving family” and credited his mother as a source of inspiration.

He said she was a great community person who was tragically killed in an accident some years ago.

“My driving passion for succeeding in whatever I do is to make my mother proud.”

He said his mother had a beautiful sense of humour and would likely think the appointment “was a bit of a prank”.

“I’m sure we would have a few laughs. But she would be enormously proud of what I have been able to do, not for me, but to help other people.”

McManaway and his wife Lynnette developed the newly opened Five Rivers Medical Centre, a state of the art healthcare facility servicing Greytown and the wider South Wairarapa.

McManaway said support from Lynnette was a large part of his success, and both were proud of what they had achieved with the medical centre.

“That one is pretty wonderful.

“Anything that I can do to help other people to improve their situation is something to aspire to,” McManaway said.

Queen’s Service Medal recipient Yvonne O’Dowd. PHOTO/MARY ARGUE

Wairarapa’s QSM recipient, Yvonne O’Dowd, was equally shocked by the Honours List and said she was still recovering.

“I’m really one of those people that work in the background.

“It’s a bit embarrassing. Whoever nominated me needs to be thanked.”

The QSM award recognised O’Dowd’s long-time volunteer efforts in the Carterton community and her work at the Carterton Foodbank.

O’Dowd became president of the foodbank in 2016 and has been instrumental in increasing the foodbank’s volunteer base and extending the number of open days from three to five a week.

Not one to walk away from a problem, O’Dowd organised a working bee a few years ago to make a home wheelchair accessible.

“This couple had a disability. He couldn’t use his arms, and his partner had an illness, which was crippling her.

“To get a food parcel [from the foodbank], they purchased a pushchair, picked up their parcel and walked it home.”

O’Dowd said the path at the couple’s home was cracked and broken.

“It was an accident waiting to happen.”

She spoke to the mayor and the Carterton Lion’s group, and a new path materialised in the space of a weekend.

O’Dowd said a team of people was often responsible for the work she achieved in the community.

“This is where I’m a little bit shocked. What I have done has been with a team. It wasn’t just me doing the work.

“And you don’t do it for recognition.”

She said the desire to help others stemmed from her childhood, spending her formative years in a district like a “big family”.

“We were always there for one another.”

Although reluctant to be in the spotlight, she said a celebration was inevitable.

“It’s not every day you get offered an honour.”

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