Services to Kaikoura community acknowledged in Queen's Birthday Honours List

Melville Syme will receive a Queen's Service Medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for his services to the Kaikoura ...
EMMA DANGERFIELD/FAIRFAX NZ

Melville Syme will receive a Queen's Service Medal in the Queen's Birthday Honours list for his services to the Kaikoura community.

Kaikoura man Melville Syme was "speechless and humbled" when he found out he was to receive an award in this year's Queen's Birthday Honours List.

Syme, of Kaikoura, first heard about his nomination when he received a letter asking him whether he would accept the honour.

He didn't spend long thinking about it, he said.

Syme's part in the He Timatanga Hou/New Beginnings walkway project was behind his nomination, which saw the re-establishment of an area of native forest next to the South Bay racecourse in Kaikoura.

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The walkway was the brainchild of the late Murray Davidson, who went looking for support for the project.

"I got involved on the condition that it be run by a community committee," he said.

"I also wanted assurances that it be vested to the community."

Syme gradually assumed the role of foreman of the project, which would take five years to complete.

"I just kept pushing it - I wanted to see results.

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"I never work on anything with a 'never' attitude."

Syme's 'astounding' energy and drive on the project was the reason he was nominated by a group including project chairman Kevin Heays.

"I noted all the strings he could pull...it was pretty impressive," Heays said.

"Plus the fact he was doing it for the community, none of it was for personal gain."

Syme has been involved in countless other community projects over the years, including being active in the Presbyterian Church, Federated Farmers, Kaikoura A&P Association and the Lions Club of Kaikoura, of which he has been a member since 1968, serving as District Governor in 2001-2002.

Of all his accomplishments over the years, Syme is most proud of his involvement in the Mayfair Theatre, Kaikoura's small community-owned cinema.

He and wife Julie Syme have been instrumental in saving the theatre from almost certain closure on a number of occasions and stepped up again in 2013 when the move to digital required a cash boost of $90,000, and a huge fundraising push was launched.

"Everything I have done could not have been achieved without funders, committees and many other people's involvement, not least of which are my wife Julie and my family."

 - Kaikoura Star

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