A glorious gathering
Tim Davies-Colley travelled to Auckland yesterday to attend the New Zealand of the Year Awards at the Langham Hotel in Auckland, not as a spectator, but as a worthy finalist in the Local Heroes section.
Jim Bolger, patron of the Awards said, ‘Tonight is a celebration; a celebration of achievement, of selflessness, of inspiration and dogged Kiwi determination’.
Such was the prestige of the evening that it was attended by politicians, the Auckland mayor, dames and knights and very many well-known and highly regarded New Zealanders. It was an evening that could only leave the audience overwhelmed by the sheer talent on show. There were three finalists in each of the six sections:
Young New Zealander of the Year
Senior New Zealander of the Year
Community of the Year
Innovator of the Year (a new award) and the ultimate section
New Zealander of the Year
How the judges made their decisions was a mystery. As details of each finalist were read out or shown on the big screen, and as each finalist spoke briefly, they all seemed worthy of the ultimate prize. It soon became apparent that, winner or not, just to have been included among such worthy finalists was a huge honour in itself.
The Awards evening began with the welcome Haka performed by Waka Huia.
Other performances took place during the course of the evening. There was a performance by the mixed voice choir combining the voices of Westlake Girls’ High School and Westlake Boys’ High School from the North Shore of Auckland, a performance by ReQuest, internationally acclaimed all girl dance crew from Auckland’s Palace Dance Studio, and finally three songs by Bic Runga, iconic New Zealand singer-songwriter.
And so the various awards were presented whilst ordinary mortals marvelled at the wealth of talent and dedication that is being provided by so many New Zealanders.
Tim and his wife, Tamsin, had to wait patiently until after the main course had been served.
It was good to hear Tim, and the two other contestants in the Local Heroes final, tell us their stories. Any one of them could have taken the Award which went to Cecilia Sullivan-Grant from Dunedin who has spent many years helping the disabled, tracking youth leaving school and helping them into apprenticeships and managing a portfolio of 40 successful small businesses, among other things.
Winner or not, Tim will always be able to treasure the memory and also his certificate. Finalist Certificate
Anyone who was a finalist on the night would have to have been enormously proud, as were those lucky enough to have
supported Tim on the night. Selwyn Screen and Barbara Craig (20/20 Communications Trust Trustees) and Wendy Betteridge (one of the e-Learning Trustees) were fortunate enough to be able to enjoy the evening with Tim and Tamsin.
The final award was presented by Prime Minister John Key who said that it wasn’t just the beautiful environment in New Zealand, the rivers, the mountains, the bush and the coastline that gave it such status in the world, it was its people.
The worthy finalists were:
Dame Dr Iritana Tawhiwhirangi from Wellington, advocate of Maori language education and the Kohanga Reo movement, Catriona Williams from Masterton, founder and trustee of the CatWalk Spinal Cord Injury Trust and Dr Lance O’Sullivan from Kaitaia, doctor and health advocate.
One could only sit in open-mouthed wonder as one heard about the work of these amazing people. The contribution that each one of them has made and continues to make to New Zealand is inspiring. The eventual recipient of this ultimate award was Dr Lance O’Sullivan for the work he’s doing in his community in Kaitaia where he is obviously very well loved and respected.
And so the evening came to an end. Nearly 500 people filed out into the night, no doubt moved by what they had witnessed and resolved to honour the participants and endeavour to emulate their example.