Home' Special Magazines : Your Place Your People Manukau Contents 14 MANUKAU COURIER, MAY 3, 2011
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Some people are always in the limelight - national and local figures whose opinions are sought and
deeds emblazoned - but it's our unsung `grassroots' heroes who really bind the community together.
These are the volunteers who put others first, without financial reward - helping the elderly and
disadvantaged manage day to day tasks, delivering meals, collecting for charities, lending their expertise
and motivating others to better themselves, helping at-risk youth and generally giving selflessly.
Local heroes who ask for nothing rarely get the recognition they deserve. But last month 10 of Manukau's
unsung heroes were recognised for their contributions to the community with Kiwibank 'Local Heroes
Medals', as part of the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards 2011.
These are people whose daily commitment and sacrifices make our communities and our country an
amazing place to live.
Grant McCabe, National Awards Manager for the New Zealander of the Year Awards, was so impressed
with the calibre of our Local Heroes he said:
"Many of these medal winners are unsung heroes whose charity and selflessness are not only
inspirational locally, but often have a profound effect provincially or nationally."
"We have received a fantastic response from across New Zealand from those who have been touched
in some way by a Local Hero.''
Angela Opai of Manurewa set up the POSM Trust (Parents of Schools in Manurewa), to help parents
of primary school children better themselves by motivating them into courses on hygiene, cooking,
budgeting, gardening, basic numeracy and literacy, basic law and `early years' parenting. Angela's
dream is to reach all schools in South Auckland and, from there, why not the rest of New Zealand?
Agnes (Aggie) Koti
Agnes Koti is also driven by her passion for the youth and the families of Manurewa and rejects the
negative stereotypes often handed out about the area. She has been a volunteer, coach, manager
and player with Manurewa Marlins Rugby League for over 10 years. The growth of the club has been
attributed to Aggie's tireless work and `always there to help' attitude - as a result the Marlins now have
the largest membership in New Zealand.
Aiolupotea 'John' Roache
Mangere's Aiolupotea Roache is the cornerstone of Samoan rugby in Auckland, personally coordinating
the Auckland Samoa Rugby Football Union and developing it into a thriving 24-team union, as well as
helping turn around the fortunes of the Otahuhu Rugby Club when it was struggling. Aiolupotea has never
stinted at giving his own funds where they are needed, and volunteers countless hours of his time.
Inderjeet 'Indu' Bajwa
Since migrating to New Zealand in 2003, Inderjeet Bajwa (known as Indu) has helped new migrants
to find jobs; been a voluntary ESOL teacher and later a permanent one; and has taught community
programmes at temples in Manurewa, Otahuhu and Papatoetoe. An ESOL Educator of the Year in
2007, Indu is also a St John's `caring caller', helps educate Indian women on cervical cancer, and
founded the Hope n Help trust.
Joe Iosefo does a huge amount of work to 'make a difference' in Otara, developing vegetable gardens to
support Pearl Baker Drive families - nurturing and harvesting healthy diet foods. He was named Auckland
Gardener of the Year for 2010. Joe also works with teens at the Growing For Health teaching garden in
East Tamaki. Joe leads graffiti removal programmes, rubbish collections, leads a neighbourhood watch
group and is always on hand when help is needed.
Hospitality tutor Katherine Wong of Mangere, a New Zealand migrant 35 years ago, mentors and
provides opportunities for lower socio-economic groups, works in several lower decile schools, at
Southern Cross campus, and with many disadvantaged youth. Katherine has produced amazing results
with many of her students winning prestigious awards in nationwide culinary competitions. Many have
gone on to successful careers.
Since 2001, Papatoetoe's Steve Boxer has helped over 600 teens to turn their lives around. Mangere
born and raised, Steve rejected the notion that the area was a 'no hope zone', and from a young age
dedicated his time to the community, in particular youth offenders. He founded the MYND programme
for young people aged 14-17 years who have come to the attention of CYFs or Police. Steve works with
over 100 young people every year, helping them become positive contributors to the community.
Warner Wilder, 'Rev' to his students, is college chaplin at Kings College. With the help of students
he has assisted hundreds if not thousands of people with activities like children's reading and writing
programmes, and visiting intellectually disabled people. He also provides support to South Auckland
Women's Refuge centre, and was recognised for his support for Kings College students when tragedy
struck. He has also found time for overseas aid projects, such as the Sri Lanka tsunami disaster relief.
heroes make our
community great Local Heroes: The Manukau winners received their awards at a special function last month
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