BAY OF PLENTY TIMES Bay of Plenty heroes honoured for their selfless community service

Seventeen Bay of Plenty residents have been honoured for their services to the community at the 2018 local Kiwibank Local Hero Awards.

As part of the 2019 New Zealander of the Year Awards, Tauranga deputy mayor Kelvin Clout presented the recipients with medals at Classic Flyers Museum on Wednesday night.

In a written statement, Clout said: “Our region’s 17 local heroes demonstrate the acts of charity, commitment and selflessness which is what holds a community together.”

“Many of these individuals are inspiring members of our community who have all uniquely touched the lives of others,” he said.

The heroes are:

– Noel Kelly, from Mount Maunganui, known as the “Pillar of Hawea St” has made an invaluable contribution to community and Arataki Kindergarten. Kelly was the groundskeeper of the kindergarten for more than 40 years until he reached the age of 90 and on odd weekends can still be found at the kindergarten weeding.

– Rupal Mehta, vice chairwoman of the Shakti Tauranga Ethnic Women’s Support Group, who for more than 14 years has spent thousands of volunteer hours supporting family violence victims.

– Oropi’s Melvern Wainright, a highly respected leader involved with volunteer emergency groups, including Youth Search and Rescue Tauranga and Oropi Fire Brigade.

– Viv Jones, Mount Maunganui, for her tireless work with the Macular Degeneration New Zealand, which she founded nine years ago. Jones has raised more than $167,000 for the cause.

– Lisa Sarsfield, Gate Pa, has been the St John Ambulance Service Youth Volunteer division manager for more than four years. She also makes care packages for the homeless and the women’s refuge.

– Beachhaven Family support services manager Gale Gordon from Te Puke has spent a lifetime helping those in need, including being foster mum to 52 children.

– Tauranga’s Tracey Carlton her tireless efforts in leading and running the community response to homelessness in Tauranga with “Street Kai” and for helping people find proper housing.

– Gaelene Falconer, Tauranga, has been the Bay of Plenty and Central Plateau facilitator of the Look Good Feel Better organisation supporting cancer patients for more than 18 years.

– Mount Maunganui’s Su Hodkinson has spent years working as a social worker, supervisor and care protection co-ordinator at Child, Youth and Family. Known as Rubbish Womble, Hodkinson carries rubbish bags with her nearly everywhere she goes, helping keep the streets of Mount Maunganui clean and green.

– Ian Shearer, Whakatane, has worn many hats, including being a pioneering research scientist, former cabinet minister, acting director of Waitangi Tribunal, and Whakatane district councillor.

– Former Crusty Demons member and Youth Encounters founder Mary Wanhill from Tauranga for Youth Encounters, a dirt biking programme for youths aged 11 to 24 years lacking purpose, struggling at school and/or marginalised.

– Anchor AIMS Games coach Sharon Horne from Mount Maunganui for her dedication to helping students develop confidence and become better people. She also tutors Kapa Haka and Pacifika students.

– Hailey Trappitt from Tauranga has been recognised as one of the youth ambassadors travelling with Mike King on his nationwide 2018 I AM HOPE tour.

– Kiwi-Bianca McLeod-Ohia, leader of Tamapahore Marae, for her achievements as a player and coach of several netball teams.

– Kirsti Kay, Tauranga, a horse riding instructor, local riding for the disabled coach and ambulance paramedic, who flew to Christchurch to help find lost people under the rubble during the city’s earthquakes.

– Orchardist Graham Dyer uses his skills to beautify the parks in Tauranga and has selflessly gifted a collection of kauri trees to the development of Sydenham Botanic Park.

– Lance Campbell, head instructor of the Katikati’s Global Jiu Jitsu Academy, for teaching Katikati youth, often unpaid.

Kiwibank chief executive Steve Jurkovich said the awards honoured and thanked people who made a huge difference in their communities.

This year 322 medals will be presented nationwide with one New Zealand Local Hero of the Year winner announced at a gala event in February next year.

NZ Herald

Comment: The real reason cycle lanes are always empty


I’m not a cyclist. I don’t own a bike and I hate the feeling of Lycra . I drive my car over offensively short distances sometimes and I’m unapologetically lazy about walking to the shops.

My only bias is being a big fan of whatever makes moving around Auckland a bit easier because, as anyone who’s spent more than a few hours in the 09 knows, getting around in Auckland can be a goddamn nightmare.

There’s a surprisingly simple reason cycle lanes are so empty and, despite the loud naysayers, it’s not because no one uses them. Cycle lanes are often empty because they are so efficient. Your cycling workmates are already at work, showered and ready to start annoying someone with some kind of annoyingly accurate stat about their carbon footprint . Meanwhile, you (and me) are still sitting at the stupid traffic lights on the motorway onramp.

For every negative statistic you can find for bike lanes, I can find you 27 worse ones for cars and buses.

Public transport in Auckland is a complete shambles. I have lost count at the number of times I’ve had to pay for a taxi ride home or call someone asking if they could pick me up because the bus that was supposed to take me home after a late shift didn’t show up.

The reality is: people who want a reason to complain about something, will always find one. If cycle lanes were always congested, with queues of cyclists trying to make their way into and out of town (the bloody cheek of these people), people would slam them as inefficient. Because cycle lanes are always empty, they slam them as ” useless ” .

I’m never going to ride my bike to or from work. That sounds exhausting and, honestly, I don’t want to deal with helmet hair. But I love cycleways. I love the fact that they take cars off the motorway and make my journey slightly easier. I love that I can annoy cyclists by going for runs along them with my headphones on so I can’t hear them when they come whizzing by and shouting “on your riiiiiight!”. I love that they’re a safe way to get around. I like knowing that a city like Auckland, with no subway and a very limited train network, is building a cycle network worth being proud of.

“But the cycleway takes away carparks right on the main street!” Yeah, ok, Karen. I never find any parking on the main street anyway so you can be like me and go park on a side street and walk the rest of the way. I don’t know anyone who’s ever stopped going somewhere they needed or wanted to go to just because there was no guarantee of a carpark right outside that door.

And as for the numbers and the forecasts and the complicated maths, I don’t actually care and I don’t think you should either. No one is counting how many people use the designated car parks for parents in my local supermarket. We all just agree that, regardless of whether two people or 200 people use them, it’s important to have them. No one cares how many people visit any of the local parks near you. No one is going to say “Only 217 people a month go to that park, shall we just knock it down a build a carpark?”. We just leave them be, because they’re important pieces of infrastructure for a liveable city. So why are we so uptight about tracking down how many people use a cycleway? Why does it matter?

We can’t be the city we want to be in 50 years if we don’t start working towards it now. Imagine if 50 years ago we’d built a subway network underground? We’d all be getting in and out of Auckland so much faster these days, instead of clogging up the motorways on this seemingly day-long rush hour we live in. We can’t be short-sighted and assume that, because not many of us will use it now, it’s not worth investing in.

There’ll always be people unhappy about fewer cars on the road (think petrol companies, mechanics) and it’s naïve to assume there is anything out there in the world that will ever be unanimously and universally loved . Of all things to hate, cycleways should be really low on your list. So low that, by the time you get to get angry about it, you might actually realise they were a great idea all along.

I’m not here to tell you what to do, but since it already sounds exactly like that’s what I’m doing, I suggest you leave the cycleway alone and start getting upset at things worth getting angry about, like the price of milk and cheese in a country full of cows.

NZ Herald

James Bulger killer Robert Thompson had a ‘better life’ because of murder

The father of James Bulger last night reacted with fury after one of the toddler’s killers admitted he had enjoyed a “better life” as a result of being locked up for a crime which shocked the United Kingdom.

Robert Thompson also said he had benefitted from “a better education” during eight years in a secure unit after he and Jon Venables were convicted of murdering the 2-year-old, a documentary to screen tonight in the UK reveals.

When the 10-year-olds abducted and killed James in Bootle, Merseyside, in February 1993, serial truant Thompson was by his own admission “completely out of control… committing crime and causing trouble”.After almost a decade of intensive attention at Barton Moss secure unit in Manchester, he told a Parole Board considering his application to be freed that his time being held in the unit had brought huge benefits.

In papers revealed in a documentary to be broadcast on Channel 5 tonight, Thompson says: “I do feel aware that I am now a better person and have had a better life and a better education than if I had not committed the murder.

“There is obviously an irony to this but it is part of my remorseful feelings as well.”

But last night James’s father Ralph said the confession confirmed what he and James’s mother Denise had long believed – that Thompson and Venables had been rewarded rather than punished for the crime.

“For 25 years I have insisted that Thompson and Venables have been rewarded not punished for murdering my baby son,” Bulger, 51, told the Daily Mail.

“The message here is horrific – kill a child and you will get a privileged and cosy life in return.

“I have always said that these pair have never been punished at all.”

The cost of locking up the two killers was put at £2.5 million in 2001, when they were released on licence.

“When these two were still locked up they went without nothing,” Bulger added.

“They got a first class education, counsellors and therapists while James’s family was thrown to the wolves with our grief. It terrifies me that this sends out a message that you can commit a crime as heinous as killing James and get away with it.”

Thompson told the Parole Board he had lied about his involvement after being overwhelmed by the public revulsion to their crime.

But he insisted he was now “deeply ashamed… of having played a part in this horrible murder”.

However Bulger continued to reject Thompson’s claim to be remorseful.

“Their false words mean nothing to me,” he said. “They might have hoodwinked the Parole Board and the do-gooders who let them out but they will never deceive me.”

Thompson, now 35, has managed to stay out of trouble since being released with a new identity in 2001.

However, Venables is in jail for the second time for downloading child pornography.

NZ Herald