Wellingtonians step up for their communities

25 June 2019

The character shown by Wellington’s Muslim community in response to the Christchurch mosque massacres has played a large part in this year’s Absolutely Positively Wellingtonian (APW) awards.

Image of the winners of the APW awards 2019

Winners of the APW awards 2019

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Four members of the Muslim community have been acknowledged in the awards, three of them - Tahir Nawaz, Khaled Said and Imam Nizam ul Haq Thanvi - in a joint award for their leadership.

“They went out of their way to promote understanding at a difficult time,” says Wellington Mayor Justin Lester. “The Kilbirnie mosque’s open day was brought forward several months to enable the Muslim community to show its appreciation to Wellingtonians.

“The Muslim community’s reaction to the Christchurch shootings, as epitomised by its leadership, provided an example of understanding and harmony that was noted throughout the world.”

Ibrahim Omer, the chair of ChangeMakers Resettlement Forum, also became an APW winner.

“Following the Christchurch shootings, Ibrahim represented his community on the world stage,” the Mayor says. “He organised vigils, connected with Muslim refugee communities across the country, gave media interviews to international media and much more.”

Ibrahim, came to New Zealand from Sudan in 2010 after escaping an oppressive regime in Eritrea and started work in Wellington as a cleaner. He has also been a campaigner for the Living Wage movement, is a union organiser, and is a community representative on Newtown Union Health Service Board.

The other winners’ contributions to the community took many forms, including years of service to their communities, mental health causes, special projects and excelling in their chosen field.

“A city is set apart by its people. We wouldn’t be the special place we are today without the generosity and open hearts of many in their communities,” the Mayor says. “These awards are about acknowledging those who selflessly give so much – people who volunteer their time and effort, and go above and beyond to make our city a better place.”

2019 APW winners:

Barbara Mulligan

In November 2016, Barbara Mulligan instigated a project to mark the impact on Wellington of the 1918 influenza pandemic and some of those who died in November and December  that year.  She organised the cleaning of the gravesites in Karori Cemetery of some of the 740 who died between October and December 1918. At least 50 volunteers were involved in the clean-up, which took place from 2016 to 2018. 

Bruce and Dawn Patterson

Bruce and Dawn Patterson have been champions of Grenada Village since moving there in 1988.  Bruce has served on the Grenada Village Community Association Committee for 27 years, nearly all that time as chairman. Dawn has been on the committee for 28 years.

Greg Hyland

Greg Hyland has been an active volunteer and advocate for the Wadestown and Highland Park community.  Since 2011 he has been a Highland Park Progressive Association (HPPA) Committee member, and its president from 2013 to 2018.   He represents the HPPA and works closely with city officials on a project to conserve the local historical site - Fort Buckley. 

Jason Te Patu

Jason Te Patu is a tireless advocate for mental health and well-being, using his skills as a yoga teacher, mindfulness and meditation instructor. Originally from Whanganui, Jason is of Ngāti Apa, Ngāti Ruanui and Ngāti Tūwharetoa descent. He has represented New Zealand in springboard diving, aerobics and gymnastics, as well as pursuing a career in performance.

Melanie Heaphy

Melanie Heaphy is an icon in Island Bay where she lives with her husband Devon and their three children. Melanie has a long history of community work.  As a teenager, through Girls’ Brigade, she did her Duke of Edinburgh and Girls’ Brigade Queen’s Award, which included community service at Kilmarnock Rest home in Island Bay, and running groups of Girls’ Brigade kids.

Tahir Nawaz, Khaled Said and Imam Nizam ul Haq Thanvi

Wellington was fortunate that its Muslim community showed strong and level-headed leadership in the wake of the tragic Christchurch mosque shootings, in which 51 people died. Emotions were raw after the events in Christchurch, but throughout the country the reaction of the Muslim community leadership provided a shining example of unity and understanding, rather than finger pointing.

Ngarangi Pritchard

Ask any Wellington Māori māmā who’s had a baby in the past four decades who their midwife was, and chances are they’ll say Ngarangi Pritchard. Ngarangi, of Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Ngati Porou and Rongowhakaata descent, is one of Wellington’s most experienced, trusted and loved midwives. Her nursing and midwifery career has spanned more than 40 years and she has been instrumental in supporting Māori and Pasifika families to be confident as new parents.

Ray Henwood

Multi-talented actor Ray Henwood has been a mainstay of Wellington’s theatrical scene since the mid-1960s.  Originally from Wales, Ray moved to Wellington in 1962, aged 24. However it was not to work an actor, but to teach maths and science at Mana College. He then worked as a forensic toxicologist at the Department of Scientific and Industrial Research. While there he was partly responsible for the introduction of the breathalyser to New Zealand.

Susan Price

Susan Price made headlines this year when she gave away a landmark property that she and her parents had lovingly restored. Chevening, an apartment block at 90 Salamanca Road, Kelburn, was designed in 1929 by Llewellyn Williams, who also planned the Embassy Theatre. The neglected building, desperately in need of care, was bought by the Price family in 1979.

Warren Dion Smith

Hair, makeup and special effects artist Warren Dion Smith exudes talent and flair. Warren emerged from Waikato, where he was recognised early on by the Māori King Tūheitia Paki as a talented artist. He has really established himself in Wellington, where he has dominated as the pre-eminent hairstyle artist over the past 10 years, winning a succession of national and major regional titles.