Labour of love for Wanaka

21:57, Jan 21 2014
Ben Suncin
Challenge Wanaka volunteer Ben Suncin.

Wanaka-based Ben Suncin is well known in the community and can often be seen chatting to friends or visitors from overseas, always with a smile on his face. 

Originally from the Bay of Plenty, Mr Suncin moved to Wanaka for six months 30 years ago - and he is still here.

Early January is a busy time for him, as each year he commits to supporting the Challenge Wanaka Triathlon Festival, as one of 650 volunteers who help deliver this hugely popular event. 

Helping out with a variety of roles both in the buildup and on race day itself, Ben (along with Steve, a Canadian who flies in specifically each year to help out for the week) is a familiar and welcome face for other volunteers and athletes alike.

Why does he do all this? 

''The people I meet as a volunteer are amazing.


''I get such a buzz from speaking to so many different and wonderful people and being involved in such great events; where else would I get to stand side by side with athletes from around the world?''

Mr Suncin is also committed to volunteering at the biennial Winter Games NZ and with the annual Brain Injury Association appeal - the latter being particularly close to his heart.

In 2000 Mr Suncin suffered a stroke and in the years following spent countless hours re-learning to speak and walk.

He receives valuable support from the Brain Injury Association and each year fronts up the appeal in Wanaka as a way of showing his appreciation for all the help they have given him.

He also loves promoting a town he loves.

''I want people to leave with a lasting impression of Wanaka, which they will share with their friends back home.

''Whether they are spectators at Challenge, athletes at the Winter Games or a passerby donating in New World -  if I contribute to creating that impression then I get a great sense of satisfaction and feel I have made a difference to someone else's day.''


The Mirror