From knitting to organising, New Plymouth's citizens get recognition

Kit Lea was honoured for 30 years of service knitting for the neonatal unit at Taranaki base hospital.
ANDY JACKSON/STUFF

Kit Lea was honoured for 30 years of service knitting for the neonatal unit at Taranaki base hospital.

When Kit Lea saw a need up at the neonatal unit in the hospital, she got out her knitting needles to solve it.

Now, around three decades later, she and eight other volunteers have been recognised and presented with Citizenship Awards by mayor Neil Holdom on Friday night.

"I do beanies and little singlets, booties, anything they want," the 75-year-old said.

"You don't do it do to anything like that, you do it because I like knitting and I feel like I can do something for the ...
ANDY JACKSON/STUFF

"You don't do it do to anything like that, you do it because I like knitting and I feel like I can do something for the community," Lea said.

Lea, who has also served for 30 years with Lions, said it was only "a few hundred" items of clothing she had made over the years but a family member who attended the ceremony with her said it was definitely in the thousands.

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She joked she was "absolutely horrified" when she found out she had been nominated for the award.

Terry Parkes (left) was also honoured at the awards for his work on multiple trusts and groups.
ANDY JACKSON/STUFF

Terry Parkes (left) was also honoured at the awards for his work on multiple trusts and groups.

"You don't do it do to anything like that, you do it because I like knitting and I feel like I can do something for the community."

Nigel Cash, Elaine Gill, Jim Hook, Katrina McNab, Maureen Lonsdale, Terry Parkes, Neil Sulzberger, and Clair Tart were also recognised at the ceremony in the New Plymouth District Council chamber. 

They were rewarded for a range of activities, from helping sports clubs to supporting medical causes.

The nine people who recived the awards were honoured at the council chambers on Friday night.
ANDY JACKSON/STUFF

The nine people who recived the awards were honoured at the council chambers on Friday night.

"Volunteers are the life-blood of our district – there are many services that would grind to a halt without them," Holdom said.

"So often our volunteers work behind the scenes without recognition. This year's recipients of the Citizens' Awards are outstanding due to their years of dedication and how much they have given back to the community."

Nigel Cash, of Waitara, has notched up 20 years as a member of the Operational Support Unit for the Waitara Fire Brigade. However, it was his extra activities carrying out home fire safety checks and install free smoke alarms in Waitara and surrounding communities that led to his award.

Elaine Gill, of New Plymouth, was recognised for more than 40 years of involvement with over 30 trusts, committees, forums and advisory groups.

She is a founding member and chair of the Taranaki Employment & Support Foundation Trust (TESFT) and has played a key role in groups including Volunteering New Plymouth, Taranaki Computer Access Centre Trust and Dress for Success.

Until recently she was also chair of the Taranaki Festival of the Arts Trust and Taranaki Community Health Trust and has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit and earlier this year was a finalist for the New Zealander of the Year Awards. 

Jim Hook, of Waitara, was recognised for decades of service to the town, including the Waitara Savage Club, where he has been "fix-it man" for 45 years and is currently club president. 

Along with his wife Pat, he helps out at the Waitara Salvation Army with gardening, preparing items for sale, moving items for display and sorting any problems that may arise, and he is also a member of the Waitara Railway Preservation Society.

Katrina McNab, of Lepperton, has provided support to the Lepperton and Waitara communities for more than 10 years and is affectionately known as "Hurricane Katrina".

Over many years on the Home & School Committee, she has raised significant funds for the school, as well as organising calf day and lawnmower racing. She helps cook school lunches every second Wednesday, has coached sports teams and transported children to different events throughout the district as well as helping run weekend events for children with special needs.

Maureen Lonsdale, of New Plymouth, has spent more than 40 years aiding people in Taranaki who have diabetes.

She has been a major instigator and supporter of Diabetes Taranaki, Diabetes Youth Taranaki and holiday camps for children with diabetes. Her ideas have received nationwide recognition and she is often consulted by national organisations. 

Lonsdale has also been involved with basketball, the Mothers Union and theatre.

Terry Parkes, of New Plymouth, is a passionate advocate and behind-the-scenes worker for Taranaki and spends time ensuring visitors experience the cultural highlights of the region

He is involved with the WITT Advisory Group, Lotteries Commission, Art in Public Places, Taranaki Arts Festival, Tropfest, WOMAD, Garden Spectacular, Taranaki Health Foundation, Govett-Brewster Foundation and prominent fundraising for the Len Lye Centre.

Neil Sulzberger, of New Plymouth, has been involved with Taranaki cricket for 50 years and has made a huge contribution to the sport at both the national and international level, as well as in schools. 

Earlier this year he was honoured with the Bert Sutcliffe Medal for Outstanding Service to NZ Cricket.

He has personally managed the majority of matches held at Pukekura Park and, largely through his efforts, a number of T20 and 50-over semi-finals and finals have been held there.

Clair Tart, of Waitara, has made a significant contribution to the Waitara High School community and Taranaki Cancer Society through her involvement in the school's Relay for Life team.

The relay teams have raised more than $25,000 since 2010 for the Cancer Society and earned "Dream Team" status three times, which involved raising more than $5,000 per relay. In 2016,  Waitara High School was one of only four teams out of 63 to achieve this.

Preparation for the event is months in the making. She is camp mum, taxi driver, secretary, treasurer, cook and team manager. She also creates promotional material and supports students in the clean-up of the venue and performing the haka.

She was described as the classic example of a teacher going the extra mile for her students.

 - Taranaki Daily News

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