News, Events and Culture

Stewart Collis: Civic Award winner 2016

Thursday September 22 2016

Stewart Collis likes to help people out whenever he can. “I’m not a person who talks all day and then walks away. I’m a doer.”

Photo shows older man on a farm leaning against a red letterbox.

Stewart has supported the local farming community his whole life and is renowned for being a “caring caller” for many of his colleagues.

Stewart Collis has lived on the same land for more than 86 years and is the fourth generation of his family to manage the farm. He’s supported his local community for many years, making significant contributions through the Feilding Rural Trading Society, the Manawatū Hearing Association, the Manawatū Historic Vehicle Collection Trust, and the Broadway Methodist Church.

I believe helping other people out is simply the right thing to do. There are always opportunities to get involved if you look for them.

Stewart Collis

Feilding Rural Trading Society

In the 1960s he helped establish a local co-operative known as the Feilding Rural Trading Society, which later amalgamated with Farmlands. The Society bought farm merchandise at wholesale prices and sold it on to farmers with a minimal mark-up. It saved farmers thousands of dollars at a time when the rural sector was experiencing significant financial difficulties.

“At that time the stock firms had a monopoly and were fleecing farmers with high interest rates. The Feilding Trading Society was run by farmers, for farmers, and for a small joining fee you could trade through the society and get rebates.”

Stewart was the chairman of the Feilding Society and later went on to become a director on the Farmlands Board.

Manawatū Hearing Association

Then, around 15 years ago, he started to lose his hearing, and shortly afterwards got involved with the Manawatū Hearing Association. At that time no one on the committee had management skills, so he was more than happy to offer his experience from years of running his own farm.

“I got involved because of the service it offers and what it means for people with hearing loss.  Around 15 percent of the population are affected and through our advocacy work we managed to get hearing loss recognised as a disability. This was a huge win as most of the services available are for people who are completely deaf.”

Manawatū Historic Vehicle Collection Trust

These days he is very much enjoys the volunteer work he does with the Manawatū Historic Vehicle Collection Trust at the Coach House Museum – especially the Thursday social group, ‘Smoko for Friends of the Museum’. Renowned for his ability to encourage and support others, the group has benefited hugely from his contribution.

“We were always having a cup of tea and smoko and lots of stories were told, so it became a weekly group. The room would sometimes be crammed with up to 60 people – mostly men. I’ve met so many people and heard so many stories.”

In his spare time he still very much enjoys getting out on the farm.

“I go outside most days and just enjoy what I can see. Sometimes I go out on the motorbike and just take it all in.”

Achievements

Feilding Rural Trading Society/Farmlands

  • Established and ran the Feilding Society; served on Board of Directors for Farmlands for 12 years

Manawatū Hearing Association

  • 2002-present: Committee member
  • 2011-present: Treasurer
  • 2011-2015: Rep on Central Region Committee
  • 2012-2015: Central Region Rep to National Board

Broadway Methodist Church

  • 1957-1977: Trinity Church Stewardship Programme Leader
  • 1977-1997: Methodist Church of New Zealand Stewardship Programme Leader
  • 1979-1980: Methodist Church of New Zealand Vice President
  • 2011-present: Methodist Church of New Zealand Director of Response 

Manawatū Historic Vehicle Collection Trust

  • 2001 – present: Front desk volunteer, handy man, supporter of ‘Smoko for Friends of the Museum’ and the children’s holiday programme