Stabbed former policeman honoured for his work with youth

A STEP AHEAD: Despite the daily physical struggle, Nigel Hendrikse loves going to school to help the kids that warm his heart.
A STEP AHEAD: Despite the daily physical struggle, Nigel Hendrikse loves going to school to help the kids that warm his heart.

A former police officer has been presented with a Local Hero Award for his work with Melville's at-risk youth having survived and overcome a stabbing and the resulting partial paralysation.

Nigel Hendrikse was stabbed in the neck with a screwdriver by violent repeat offender, John Gillies, in 1993.

Now he fights a daily battle with physical restrictions and pain to work at Hamilton's Melville High School to help the kids and, in a sense, stop them becoming like his attacker. That perserverance and dedication earned him the Kiwibank Local Heroes Award, which rewards the Kiwis who selflessly work to better their communities.

"I have found a way to give back to the community for all the care that I received after I got stabbed [and] I feel that I make a greater difference doing what I do at Melville High School than when I was in the police," Mr Hendrikse said.

He works with "a handful of kids", mostly aged 13-14, using humour, stories and street smarts and, despite their differences, building strong relationships lasting well after their time as students.

"Sometimes I think, this kid's got Mongrel Mob connections and I'm an ex-cop, and they shouldn't love me but they do. It gives me a warm heart, it really does. [I] get to know them so well and I sort of feel privileged to be there."

Mr Hendrikse and other Waikato Local Heroes were acknowledged with a ceremony where they were awarded medals yesterday .

The other recipients were:

Catherine Polglase - bringing the SPACE (Supporting Parents as Children's Education) programme, mainly for new parents, to the Waikato.

Claire Gray - community programme Streetworks.

Delon Birch - Te Tumeke Kids Club and the Holland Road Encourager newsletter in Fairfield.

Dr Alwyn Seeley - AJ Seeley Gully Reserve for tui in Claudelands.

Hylton Grigor and Russel Green - first aid trainer and co-ordinator of the Matamata Community Health Shuttle, respectively.

Kath Banks - Mangatangi Community groups and schools and local fundraising events, and more.

Kevin Were - assistance in settling the Pouakani claims, with elder/owner John Paki, in the late 1980s.

Lois McKendry - Friends at Court Society.

Patricia Novoa - Waikato Migrant Centre co-ordinator organising events for various ethnic communities.

Rebekah Garner - the Cherish Our Children organisation in the South Waikato community.

Robyn Pengelly - creating the Thames/Hauraki Health & Disability Resource Centre providing help and companionship.

Vivien Leonard - Paeroa community events, activities, societies and trusts, and fundraising and for branding Paeroa "The Antiques Town of New Zealand".