Sunday, July 21, 2024
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Acknowledging the work of volunteers

Celebrating Carterton’s volunteers this week was a particular highlight for our Council, community, and I as part of National Volunteer Week.

We welcomed our unsung heroes from across our district. From our Volunteer Fire Brigade to Keep Carterton Beautiful, and our Historical Society, we celebrated with almost 100 selfless individuals and paid tribute to many, many more.

It was important to take time out to recognise and thank all those people in our community who do voluntary work and, through that, make life so much easier for so many other people.

More than 90 per cent of community organisations are volunteer-led. That’s a huge number, and that’s a huge contribution these people make with their time and their own money.

One in five of us in New Zealand are volunteers in some role.

That’s more than one million Kiwis involved in such activities each year, contributing approximately 159 million hours annually. This represents a substantial portion of the population, emphasising the community spirit prevalent across the country, and nowhere more than here.

I would hazard a good guess that Wairarapa steers above the national average.

The economic impact of volunteering is noteworthy, with the sector contributing an estimated $4 billion to the national economy.

Nationally, our younger and older people seem to lead the way, according to the data. Volunteering rates are high among both younger and older age groups.

Youth engagement, particularly among those aged 15-24, has been rising. People aged 65 and over demonstrate strong participation rates. They’re people who are driven by a desire to give back post-retirement.

Volunteering fosters social cohesion and supports essential services. The ongoing commitment of New Zealanders to volunteering activities highlights a robust culture of altruism and community engagement.

That is vital for the well-being and resilience of Carterton, Wairarapa, and the nation.

My friends Grant and Heather Smith are two more unsung heroes who we have recently seen recognised for their endeavours.

Grant and Heather are convenors for the Carterton Daffodil Festival and the driving forces behind many community initiatives.

I could not be more delighted for Grant and Heather for their recognition in the King’s Birthday Honours.

Our Deputy Mayor, Steve Cretney, spoke at the morning tea hosted for National Volunteer Week and reminded us all that volunteers play such an important role in enhancing the lives of those living in our amazing district.

As a Council, we must seek to uphold our community’s four well-beings: social, economic, environmental, and cultural. Our selfless individuals contribute to all those, and resilience is the focus of our long-term planning.

For my two cents, as a dyed-in-the-wool Wairarapa lad, I have grown up with and alongside people who have devoted their lives to our community.

Tonight [Saturday, June 22] sees us honour some of those people at the Charles Rooking Carter Awards. More long-awaited recognition for some of the cool people who make Carterton and Wairarapa the vibrant place it is.

It’s a testament to the hard work of our elected representatives, Council staff, and, more importantly, our community that we have had two opportunities to celebrate success.

We live in a beautiful place, but like anywhere, it’s the people that make the place.

I want to take this opportunity to thank all volunteers in the Carterton District for the work you do, for the sacrifices you make, for everything that you contribute to make our community a vibrant, wonderful, welcoming place for us to live and for others to visit.

It’s a well-worn phrase, but it is a truism: he tangata, he tangata, he tangata. It is people, it is people, it is people.

Kia ora koutou and ka pai te mahi.

Roger Parker
Roger Parker
Roger Parker is the Times-Age news director. In the Venn-diagram of his two great loves, news and sport, sports news is the sweet spot.

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