2017 Civic Awards citations.

Kendra Burgess-Naude

Kendra Burgess-Naude receiving her awardAs always, the recent 2017 general election campaign gave rise to a chorus of comments on the lack of political interest amongst younger people, a malaise diagnosed as arising in large part from a feeling in many individuals that their vote cannot make a difference. Even as a pupil at secondary school she was passionately engaged in projects to raise political awareness amongst her classmates, talking to them individually and in groups, explaining the importance of the democratic process and encouraging those who were turning eighteen to enrol.

Now a full-time University student, she continues her crusade as co-chair of the Christchurch Youth Council, supporting and mentoring others, empowering them to engage with local and central government processes, to engage with decision-making, and to realise that they can shape the City and country in which they live.

Through her work with the Youth Community Voices project she encourages young people to form groups within their Wards, and to work with Community Boards and with the City Council to ensure that young people are represented, and their voices are heard. Her outreach encourages her peers to engage in active citizenship that they may lead more fulfilled lives.

Photographer: Neil Macbeth

The Canterbury Children’s Theatre

a representative of the Children's Theatre Company receiving the awardFor sixty years the Company has brought pleasure, entertainment, and excitement to the children of Canterbury, and, indeed, to many adults. Times have changed, but the Company has changed with the times.

The days when bus-loads of children would arrive from Timaru or Hanmer Springs to packed houses at the Repertory Theatre are long gone, the victims of television and a whole constellation of electronic gadgetry, but the magic continues at the Malthouse Theatre in Beckenham. Indeed, their involvement with children goes beyond their primary concern, the presentation of plays and shows for the entertainment of youngsters.

In association with the Malthouse Theatre Trust they introduce children to the subtle arts of theatre and stage work, providing an environment where aspiring young actors and actresses can enter the craft at an elementary level and gradually progress through to more adult techniques and themes. Most importantly, the Company provides the wherewithal to hone young imaginations, and sows the seeds of dreams that can last a lifetime. That children who were involved in the early years, now grandparents, still attend performances with their grandchildren should prove beyond any doubt that magic still exists in Canterbury.

Photographer: Neil Macbeth

City Harvest Food Rescue

representatives of the city harvest food rescue team receiving their awardNew Zealand is a fertile land, rich in food. So rich is it that New Zealanders can afford to throw away up to one hundred and twenty thousand tonnes of food each year. Paradoxically, and to our shame, more than a quarter of a million New Zealand children go to school each day without breakfast, or to bed without dinner.

They saw this burning need with great clarity, and set up an organisation to rescue quality surplus food from the supply chain and redistribute it to people in need, ensuring that hundreds of needy Cantabrians have access to quality meals and at the same time helping to reduce waste. In collaboration with twenty-four charitable agencies such as the City Mission, St Vincent de Paul, Women’s Refuges, the Pasifika Fellowship, and many others, the team of volunteers runs a six-days-a-week operation to provide food resources to front-line groups.

Their success speaks for itself: although founded only in February of this year, after only five months of full operation nearly twenty-three tonnes of food had been rescued and redistributed, providing nearly sixty-five thousand meals and reducing landfill disposal by some eighteen tonnes. Words cannot adequately express the enormity of their achievement.

Photographer: Neil Macbeth

Friends of the Akaroa Museum

representatives of the friends of the Akaroa museum receiving their awardThe unique character of a place is a quality that is built upon its many-layered history. But the past is a fragile creature, easily mutilated, quickly forgotten, were it not for the dedicated work of a few far-sighted individuals who can see beyond the exigencies of today into the needs of tomorrow. Such a group came together on the 21st of June, 1965, to support the Akaroa Museum by providing financial assistance, and voluntary help in building up the collections.

Fifty-two years later they are still at it, fundraising, catering, cleaning, training volunteers, and performing the multitude of tasks that need to be done to keep the museum open, interesting, and relevant. They are on hand to receive the thousands who walk through the museum’s doors every year, to assist the school groups that regularly visit, or to advise those who come to research family histories.

They preserve and bind copies of the Akaroa Mail, an invaluable archive of local history, and maintain the Oral History Project, an undertaking that ensures that the experiences, wisdom and lore of local residents are forever a part of Canterbury’s legacy. They are our collective memory, preserving for tomorrow that which made Canterbury what it is today.

Photographer: Neil Macbeth

Derek Errington McCullough

Derek McCullough receiving his awardHe has been a member of the Mt. Pleasant Community Centre and Residents’ Association Incorporated for twenty years, serving on the fundraising committee since 2011, and as President of the Association since 2014.

During this, the most traumatic period in its history, he has worked assiduously to ensure that a continuous programme of community engagement and activity has been maintained, and he has been central to the development and restoration of the Community Centre. Over the past six years he has given hundreds of hours to the effort to get the Centre back up and running, drawing on his vast experience of events management over the past three decades.

Thanks in large part to his gift of time, his efforts, and his devotion, the Mt. Pleasant Community in particular, and the City of Christchurch in general, have a fine new venue to house a wide range of classes, meetings, seminars, celebrations and social gatherings. Thanks to him, the Community and the City have before them an exemplar of what may be achieved, even in the most extreme of situations, with perspicacity, persistence, and perseverance.

Photographer: Neil Macbeth

Bruce McEachen

Bruce McEachen receiving his awardWhen the dust of the 2011 earthquakes was beginning to settle, there came a call to build a memorial to those who had lost their lives in the disaster. Thus the Canterbury Earthquake National Memorial Project was called into being, and to its team of professionals there was added one more, the only unpaid member, a representative of those directly affected.

He became a key member of a number of groups who oversaw the selection of the design and the construction of the memorial, and the events around its opening.

Temporarily putting aside his own grief at the loss of his son, Matthew, he worked alongside his colleagues to assess and select design submissions, following developments to ensure that the original intent of the memorial was maintained, and was deeply involved in the ceremonies and public events at the opening. He gave many hundred of hours of his time over the nearly three years of the project’s duration, all the while maintaining full time paid employment outside the project.

A tower of strength, humour and humanity, he has given more to the City than any parent should have to give and there is no doubt that the memorial would not be what it is, but for his efforts.

Photographer: Neil Macbeth

Leith Ellen McMurray

Leith Ellen McMurray receiving here awardThere are around 4,000 people in Christchurch who are affected by it, yet for many years, and still, to a large extent, today, Asperger’s Syndrome was and is poorly understood by many professionals in the education, disability and medical services.

Diagnosed later in life as being within the autism spectrum, into the milder end of which Asperger’s Syndrome fits, she knew first hand both the difficulties of those who suffer from this often debilitating disorder, and of the lack the help that they needed. She was immediately aware that someone would have to do something, and that that someone was her.

The result was Aspiehelp, The Aspire Trust, a peer support, social work and advocacy service for people affected by Asperger’s Syndrome. For six years she and a small team of dedicated colleagues have built up and refined their group into an effective and highly valued service that provides pre- and post-diagnostic consultations, and a social-work service of counselling, advocacy and referrals to specialist agencies. As well as this most welcome practical assistance, under her visionary leadership the group promotes understanding of the condition that in turn alleviates anxiety and depression and helps those affected by the Asperger’s Syndrome, to develop into happy and productive members of society.

Photographer: Neil Macbeth

One Mother To Another Charitable Trust

a representative of the trust receiving the awardMothers and carers of children who enter Christchurch Hospital’s Children’s Acute Assessment Unit, and mothers who have babies admitted to the Neonatal Intensive Care Unit, undergo an experience that is at best stressful, and may also be deeply frightening.

Doctors and nurses sometimes have to perform procedures that upset not only the children but the parents as well, as the little life so often hangs in the balance. As a consequence of a terrifying experience of her own, Christina conceived the idea of providing others in a similar position with a little morale boost.

Together with her friend Joy, with the occasional help from others and the support of the local business community, they put together a number of gift packs to be given out to suitable recipients. Each pack is filled with items, some practical, some indulgent, and includes a hand-written note to let the recipient know that she is not alone. From small beginnings, the group are now able to supply fifty packs per month, which are distributed by nursing staff. Their aim is to put a smile on the face of every mother or carer, to let them know that someone cares about what they are going through, and hopefully brighten their day.

Photographer: Neil Macbeth

Parafed Canterbury

a representative from Parafed receiving the awardFor fifty years it has provided sporting and recreation opportunities for Cantabrians with physical disabilities, and leads the country in the services that are offered to the community. It has materially advanced the rich sporting history of both Canterbury and of New Zealand as a whole, making a significant difference to the lives of many people. It has created pathways for thousands of the physically disabled to reach sporting goals, creating leaders, role models and inspirational stories that continue to echo down the generations.

It offers a vast range of programmes that cover the full spectrum of organised sports from para-athletics, to para-cycling, to wheelchair rugby, as well as ancillary programmes such as an academy course for developing and supporting elite athletes and coaches, and educational presentations to business and tertiary education organisations.

Although catering for all age-groups, it places heavy emphasis on young people, and the work done with this demographic has seen increases in participation levels in school sports as well as building a self-confidence in young people that extends beyond sports to all areas of life. By ensuring that the disabled have the same opportunities as the able-bodied it has substantially enriched the fabric of the lives of all Cantabrians.

Photographer: Neil Macbeth

Bishnu Pokhrel

Bishnu Pokhrel receiving his awardThe transition from one society to another is always fraught with difficulties. An unfamiliar language, cultural norms that can vary widely from those of the ‘old’ society, strange foods, different ways of doing almost everything, can impose enormous stress on the new immigrant.

Equally difficult is the lot of the children of migrants who face the prospect of being ‘lost’ within the new society, losing their own language, their own culture, their own ancient traditions, but not yet fully integrated into the new culture. A champion community worker, he has spent the last ten years working for people of Nepalese and Bhutanese backgrounds to settle into and acclimatise themselves to Canterbury’s culture.

He has worked extensively to bring this community together and to protect their unique culture and traditions. He is a mentor, the go-to person for any in the Nepalese or Bhutanese community who need help or advice. He has earned huge respect through working with different government agencies and service providers, and has co-ordinated dozens of events showcasing Nepalese and Bhutanese culture, tradition, and cuisine, to the wider Canterbury community. His door is always open to anyone seeking help.

Photographer: Neil Macbeth

Anthony John Tizzard

Anthony Tizzard receiving his awardA large number of charitable bodies sprang to the aid of those left in need in the wake of the Canterbury earthquakes. A leader amongst these groups was the Christchurch Earthquake [Rotary] Charitable Trust. On its formation he was invited to share his skills and experience as Secretary/Treasurer and Trust Member, and it is impossible to quantify the number of hours he has spent on the unromantic but vital tasks of collating applications, preparing responses, checking Trust requirements, confirming finances and attending to all pertinent correspondence.

His good offices have been central to the effective management and operation of the Trust, as a result of which millions of dollars in funding have been distributed throughout Canterbury. The beneficiaries of this great labour are too many to itemise, but they number in the hundreds and include a wide range of local community groups such as schools, youth organisations, people with disabilities, the elderly, early childhood organisations, and community facilities.

Although many groups and individuals have also been involved over the years, it is with gratitude that the community recognises that his time, dedication and skills, given without hesitation or reward, have been pivotal to the success of the Trust.

Photographer: Neil Macbeth

Roy Sinclair

Roy Sinclair receiving his awardFor years he laboured to have a Peace Bell brought to New Zealand and installed in Christchurch. To this end he founded the New Zealand Chapter of the World Peace Bell Association. He travelled to Japan on several occasions at his own expense, appearing on television and in newspapers, visiting war memorials and attending civic events. In 2004 he and his partner undertook an epic 3200k bicycle ride from one end of Japan to the other, all in the name of the promotion of the World Peace Bell Movement.

His untiring efforts, as well as countless hours of fundraising by members of the Chapter, saw this dream finally realised on 3 October 2006, when the Christchurch Peace Bell was formally unveiled in its pavilion in the Christchurch Botanic Gardens.

His gift is all the more poignant today as, even as these awards are taking place, chest-beating militarists armed with weapons of horrendous power threaten to topple the world into nuclear apocalypse. Thanks to his gift, however, Christchurch has at its heart a haven where a mighty symbol of tolerance, regeneration and international harmony lies amid flowers, shrubs, ponds and trees.

Photographer: Neil Macbeth