Community volunteer's role reversed

16:00, Apr 03 2014
Ian Nelson
SAYING THANKS: Long-time community man Ian Nelson, centre, received the help of volunteers to clean up his front and back yards as a way of saying thanks for his years of commitment. From left: Police Pacific co-ordinator Willie Maea, Sergeant Deanne Teao, Constable Sel Seluone, Shaun Tautali, Brenton Nelson and Mangere-Otahuhu Local Board member Constable Walter Togiamua.

A long-time community man has been on the receiving end of volunteer efforts for the first time in more than three decades.

Mangere resident Ian Nelson has been doing community work for around 33 years, including volunteering for youth organisation Blue Light for the past 25 years and helping out mental health providers, Child Youth and Family, local kindergartens and sports clubs.

But it was his turn to experience the kindness of the community when volunteers turned out to clean up overgrown trees and plants on his property.

Alf Filipaina
TIDYING UP: Auckland councillor Alf Filipaina helps with a community effort to clean up Ian Nelson’s yard, which has been overgrown with trees and grass for the past year.

The idea for the cleanup came after police Pacific co-ordinator Willie Maea found out Nelson was suffering from health problems.

He wanted to do something for a man who has given so much to the community. "It's the least that we can do," Maea says.

Nelson was overwhelmed by the help.


"This is the first time anyone has done this for me," he says. "To have this happen for me, it's incredible. I feel really overwhelmed."

Nelson says his love of young people inspired him to contribute all these years.

"I love working with kids. When you can just sit down and listen to them, it's amazing what they can teach you."

The cleanup crew consisted of police officers, Blue Light members and players from the Otara Rugby League Club.

Auckland councillor Alf Filipaina also helped out with cleaning and donated one of three waste bins required for the tree cuttings.

Manukau Courier