Whangawehi Finalist at the New Zealander of the Year Awards.

NZealnaderofyearCertificateFeb2018IMG_1339IMG_1336On Thursday 22nd February, three members of the Whangawehi Catchment Management Group (Pat O’Brian, Arthur Bowen & Nic Caviale) flew to Auckland to represent the group at the prestigious New Zealander of the Year awards. These awards celebrate individuals and groups for the way they are making a difference to their communities and our country. The Whangawehi group had been nominated in the community section and progressed to the final three in there category. They were up against Pillars from Auckland and The Canterbury Charity Hospital in Christchurch.

Out of a total of 750 applicants only 18 groups were invited to the finalist awards. The venue for this year’s ceremony was held at the 5 Star Cordis Hotel in Auckland where 800 invited guests were entertained and wined & dined.All guests enjoyed the powhiri performed by Cloralation, a multi award winning combined choir from Westlake Girls and Westlake Boys High Schools. An impressive opening welcome was presented by Kiwibank New Zelander of the Year Patron, Rt Hon James Bolger. TV One was covering the event live and Pat, Arthur and Nic all remarked on how prestigious the event felt. The three members got to mingle with all the other guests during the pre-function cocktail party and were impressed by the quality of food served during the three course ceremony meal.Presentations of each of the six categories were given from a variety of established and well known figures throughout New Zealand.

Unfortunately the Whangawehi Catchment Management group were not winners of the community section this time round and instead that honour went to the Canterbury Charity Hospital. A worthy recipient who provide free medical treatment to people who don’t fit the criteria for public health system or who can’t afford it otherwise. The Prime Minister, the Hon Jacinta Ardern presented The New Zealander of the Year award. This year it couldn’t have gone to more worthy recipient, Kristine Bartlett. A face for caregivers in the aged care sector who shocked the country when she won a landmark equal pay victory for them.

Nicolas Caviale-Delzescaux, project manager for the Whangawehi Catchment Management group states that “it was an honour to be the only environmental group at these awards this year”. These awards help raise the profile of the group especially when the work they perform is in such an isolated part of the country.

The group already have a raft of national awards up their sleeve. Kathleen Mato, founder of the Whangewehi Catchment Management Group was the winner of the environmental section for the 2014 Pride of New Zealand awards. In 2015, Rae Te Nahu took away the Kiwibank local hero medal for her services to the group. Then in 2017 the group won the most prestigious environmental award for the country, The Green Ribbon Award. Currently the Whangawehi River is the only river in the Hawkes Bay district to be bucking the trend. Water quality is up by 15% (E Coli) and the group still have more ambitious targets to come.

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