News & Events

City honours those who have given back to their community

Thursday September 22 2016

This year five local people are receiving Civic Awards from the Palmerston North City Council for their contributions to the community.

The Awards are the city’s highest recognition for voluntary service.

“This year’s recipients have all made extraordinary contributions to the city and their voluntary work has touched the lives of countless people,” says Mayor Grant Smith.

“Their work spans arts and culture, horticulture, sports, health, social housing, farming, and support for refugee and migrant communities.”

The annual Civic Awards were established in 1988, and highlight the efforts of those who give up their time to ensure community groups and organisations tick.

“Volunteers are the fabric of our society, and it’s always so humbling to see the depth and breadth of work they do in our community. Our city simply couldn’t function without them.”

The recipients received their awards tonight at a ceremony at the Palmerston North Convention Centre.

Stewart Collis

Stewart Collis is known for his commitment to caring for and supporting others with his “gentle kindness” and “discrete and timely” concern for people in need. He has devoted much of his life to serving the farming community, particularly through his work establishing and supporting the Feilding Rural Trading Society, now Farmlands. The Society bought farm merchandise at wholesale prices and sold it on to farmers with a minimal mark-up, saving them thousands of dollars at a time when the rural sector was experiencing significant financial difficulties. He has since served on the Farmlands board of directors for 12 years.

Stewart has also given much of his time to the Manawatū Hearing Association where he has served as a committee member, treasurer, and representative on regional and national boards. During his time with the Association their advocacy work resulted in hearing loss being recognised as a disability – a huge win as most of the services available are for people who are completely deaf.

He is still very involved with the Manawatū Historic Vehicle Collection Trust where he serves at the Coach House Museum as their front desk volunteer, handy man, and supporter of both the Smoko for Friends of the Museum and children’s holiday programme. He has also given nearly 60 years of service to the Broadway Methodist Church.

Ian Gray

Ian Gray has dedicated more than 50 years of his life to cycling. Alongside his significant contributions to local cycling clubs, he has coached young riders, established the first open Novice Tour of Manawatū as a national event, was integral to the success of the Tour of Manawatū, and has given more than 40 years’ service to the West Coast North Island Centre.

Ian’s involvement with cycling clubs began when he joined the Palmerston North Amateur Road Cycling Club. He helped organise many races for members around the region and was a big supporter of getting young people into riding. He established the first open Novice Tour of Manawatū as a national event and gave many years of service to the Bike Manawatū Cycling Club and the Manawatū Masters Cycling Club where he was elected a life member in 1999.

He helped rejuvenate the Feilding velodrome and has dedicated much of his time to managing and organising club racing there, personally donating bikes to young riders so they can participate. Over the years Ian has coached between 15 and 20 riders who have gone on to represent New Zealand and win national medals.

Ian also has a keen interest in cycling history. He was the author of Round the Mountain 100 Years of a Cycling Class, and co-wrote Harry Watson: The Mile Eater and the Beginner’s Guide to Road and Track Cycling. He is currently writing the History of Cycle Racing in the Manawatū.

Jenny Mair

Jenny Mair is known for her endearing personality, her loyalty, and her unwavering and tireless commitment to volunteering. She is being recognised for her significant contributions to the Manawatū Scottish Society, the Pipes and Drums of Palmerston North and Districts Inc, and the Manawatū Orchid Society.

Jenny has been a member of the Manawatū Scottish Society for over 40 years and has been a life member since 1994. She is a long-standing committee member and has served as both secretary and chair. She is the driving force behind the Jenny Mair Highland Square Day which has grown to be the second largest pipe band contest in the country under her watch, attracting more than 20 pipe bands from across New Zealand and Australia. She is also the primary organiser of the highly successful Colin Craig Claidheamh’mor Invitational Solo Piping Competition held each year at the Celtic Inn. She is patron of the Pipes and Drums of Palmerston North and Districts Inc, and a life member of Wellington Centre of Piping and Dancing New Zealand.

Jenny’s passion for music and dance has seen her mentor and encourage hundreds of young pipers and dancers over the years. Her love of orchids, alpine plants, and succulents has resulted in more than 20 years of service to the Manawatū Orchid Society. She has helped out at regional and national shows, arranging flowers and setting up displays.

Margaret May

Margaret May is passionate about the social and cultural wellbeing of Palmerston North. She has served a number of community organisations over the last three decades and heavily supports the arts, social housing, and the social work community. She is being recognised for her sense of responsibility and civic duty, her financial management skills, her strong commitment to community welfare,  and her ongoing support of worthy community projects and organisations in need.

Margaret has been on the Globe Theatre Trust board since 2011 and is currently serving as secretary. Her work has spanned marketing and promotions, website design, fundraising for operational and capital programmes, and supporting human resources during the recent reorganisation. She also spent seven years on the board of Community Arts Palmerston North, where she guided the financial management of the society and established a robust financial platform to support them into the future.

Margaret was one of the founders of Across Social Services, which provides social work, counselling, and foster care services to families across the city. She remained on the board for many years where she made a significant contribution to the ongoing success of the organisation.

As chair of the Manawatū Community Housing Trust she plays a pivotal role in providing housing for people who might otherwise be out on the streets. The 16 flats run by the Trust were in poor shape when they acquired them back in 2010, and since then she has given endless hours to turning them into warm, safe homes for up to 50 people.

Isabelle Poff-Pencole

Isabelle Poff-Pencole believes it is really important to grow and support a well-balanced multicultural society.  She is being recognised for her dedication, passion, vision and leadership skills.

She has dedicated the last 20 years of her life to growing the local Alliance Franҫaise into a thriving multi-cultural organisation and supporting the integration of people from diverse ethnicities through her work with the New Zealand Society of Translators and Interpreters.

As the volunteer general manager for Alliance Franҫaise she oversees a wide range of activities including the French language centre and community library, the teaching in schools programme, a huge range of events including the annual French film festival, and their work supporting migrants and refugees. She has also trained numerous volunteers and interns.

When Isabelle emigrated to New Zealand in 1997 she was the first qualified translator and interpreter in the country. Since then she has helped make the delivery of translation and interpreting services in New Zealand more professional, making it easier for minority groups to access government services. She also set up free French literary classes for French-speaking refugees from the Congo to ensure they didn’t lose their native language.