News | 13 August 2021
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APW winners changing the world one community at a time

The annual Absolutely Positively Wellingtonian Awards 2021 have thrown open doors on truly inspiring stories of humanity and commitment to service, said Deputy Mayor Sarah Free when welcoming guests to the Friday night awards ceremony at Te Papa.

Absolutely Positively Wellington 2021 award winners at ceremony

“The stories of the award winners and their journeys come at a critical time as we grapple with seemingly daunting socio-economic, health and environmental challenges.  

“Our APW stories highlight the inspiration and energy given to many causes and communities which have brought people together, addressed inequalities and rebalanced the divide between our natural and built environments,” said Deputy Mayor Free.

Speaking during the Award presentations Mayor Andy Foster said the awards acknowledge 12 highly positive and passionate Wellingtonians. 

“We also shared stories with proven ideas easily adaptable for other communities. 

“These twelve wonderful people have committed enormous amounts of time, passion, and energy, almost all of it voluntarily, into our community across community, welfare, arts, environment, and international relationships.  

“All of this supports Wellington as the Capital of equality, involvement, creativity, sustainability and inclusion,” said Mayor Foster.

The full list of APW 2021 recipients:

Matthew Ross' arts career spans three decades including as a first violinist with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra and 12 years as Concertmaster of Orchestra Wellington.

This year Matthew Ross launched the world's newest opera company, Wellington Opera, with Mozart's Don Giovanni as its premiere production.

More than 100 Wellingtonians were involved including singers, musicians, designers and production crew; with Matthew as Artistic Director and conductor.

Matthew has worked tirelessly to establish the Wellington Opera company, and to produce opera for Wellington audiences and artists that is accessible, affordable and at the highest standard. 

In addition to working in the public service, Gary Mitchell volunteers as Senior Honorary Fisheries Officer, Justice of the Peace, White Ribbon Ambassador, and in the Salvation Army bail house.

His volunteering also includes roles as Grenada Village Neighbourhood Support Street Coordinator, Manager Keep North Wellington Beautiful, Keep Porirua Beautiful, Red Cross Disaster Welfare Team member and a member of the Grenada Village Community Association.

Gary’s volunteering is widespread and his energy boundless and infectious, constantly improving the delivery of the organisations he supports.

His focus on helping prisoners and young offenders turn their lives around gives just one example of the insight and understanding he brings to this mahi. 

In addition to the volunteering above, Gary also established Predator Free Grenada Village and Grenada North and has set up the first international chapter of Predator Free Scotland. His efforts, alongside other volunteers, have installed around 400 traps, 35 wasp traps and 40 poison bait stations in the Wellington area.

Camille Wrightson lives and breathes giving back to the community.

She is both a volunteer, founder and someone who breathes new life into old ventures, ensuring the mahi of those before her continues to give.

Her three major impact areas for Wellington are supporting and promoting volunteering as Chief of Community at Collaborate, supporting and empowering young women through re-establishing the Wellington YWCA, and being involved in the Global Shapers Community. 
Camille may be young, but she has already given more volunteer hours than many would in a lifetime. 

Éva Kaprinay will be recognised by many Wellingtonians who enjoy events and community activities around our city. 

In her homeland of Hungary, Éva trained as a speech therapist, specialising in rehabilitation after strokes and other serious illnesses.

This led to Éva volunteering to assist elderly residents at Te Hopai with conversation and kitten therapy.

However, it is her keen interest and passion for photography for which most of us probably know her for.  Over the course of 15 years or so, Éva has been a regular photographer at council, community and cultural events all over the city, and has taken over 100,000 photos.

Her beautiful images, which are generously shared, have been much appreciated as a record of many special occasions and people. 

Since retirement in 2013, Manjit Grewal has been involved in many community and civic organisations. 

He has been a volunteer with the Citizens Advice Bureau for the last six years and has served on its Wellington board for two terms.

He has been an Executive Council member of the Wellington Interfaith Council for more than three years and is the current chair.
The Interfaith Council exists to encourage understanding, respect and harmony between faiths and has a critical role in building relationships in our growing diversity.

He co-founded EKTA, an Indian civic organisation, in 2017. 

EKTA contributes in empowering and assisting migrants to become effective and valued members of the larger community.

Manjit’s commitment to making our community a better, more harmonious, more inclusive place for all is exemplary.

His level of commitment is extensive in both leadership and service capacities.

John is one of New Zealand’s pre-eminent composers, whose music has achieved a level of international success unprecedented in New Zealand history.

This music has delighted listeners in more than 50 countries on all seven continents… yes, even Antarctica!

The son of Greek immigrants and Victoria University of Wellington alumnus, John’s compositions were played to an audience of more than a billion when his fanfares and other compositions were featured at the opening of the 2004 Athens Olympics.

John is also now considered one of the three most important living composers of the Greek Diaspora. 

Closer to home, John composed and conducted many local shows including a 10-minute musical interruption SuperSonic at CubaDupa.

Peter Reimann is a dedicated conservationist who has worked tirelessly to protect and enhance Wellington’s biodiversity. 

As Chair of the Trelissick Park Group, he has overseen work that has made the Park one of Wellington’s most attractive recreation areas. 

Since retiring as a professional engineer, Peter has been involved in the restoration of the park. This included hosting numerous groups for weed control and planting, advocacy, fund-raising and promotion. He led the recent development of the Kaiwharawhara stream bridge below Oban Street, Wadestown.

Taualoa Lalopua Sanele came to New Zealand in 1972, immediately involving herself in Wellington’s Samoan community based around St Anne’s Catholic Church, Newtown.

In 2010 she moved with the Samoan Catholic Community to St Joseph’s Parish in Mount Victoria, where is still an active member of Iesu le Tupu choir. 

Since 1987, Lalopua has been employed as a cleaner at Wellington Hospital, where for the past 40 years the majority of cleaners have been from Samoa or other Pacific nations.

Due to her organisational and advocacy skills, Lalopua was elected workplace union delegate and represented her union at the biennial NZ Council of Trade Union Komiti Pasifika Fono and South Pacific & Oceania Council of Trade Unions Conference.

She appears regularly before Parliamentary Select Committees for the union, supporting improvements in statutory annual leave, rest breaks and improved rights for elected workplace representatives.

Lalopua was cleaning supervisor at Wellington Hospital with 34 years’ service, including overseeing infection control measures for cleaning through the recent Level 4 lockdown.
Lalopua retired earlier this year but continues to volunteer to help the community.

Anthony Edmonds is a tireless advocate for Trails Wellington, which is a collective of passionate locals focused on creating epic trails in and around Wellington. 

Their partners and affiliates include Wellington Mountain Bike Club, Makara Peak Supporters, Brooklyn Trail Builders, Revolve and WORD.

With Anthony’s leadership, the trust has bought these stakeholders together under one banner to coordinate fundraising, trail building, and to help fund volunteer work aimed at making Wellington the world’s premier city for accessible trails.

Thanks to Anthony’s tireless efforts, the Trails Wellington app has been launched and provides a platform for membership as well as trail reports for Wellington’s riders.

Trails Wellington has secured more than $1 million in funding to use for the benefit of Wellington trail users.

John is a selfless, dedicated, and respected community stalwart in Wadestown.

He has served as President and Committee member of Wadestown Residents Association, a trustee and project lead with the Wadestown Village Green Trust and has been a community leader in emergency preparedness.

John recently completed a four-year project to install and landscape a bush path and recreation spaces in the bush area behind the Wadestown Library, ensuring that future generations of Wadestown Residents will be able to enjoy their community spaces. 
It has proved very popular with the community and his work continues with ongoing plantings and maintenance.

He has introduced a monthly newsletter to help publicise the voluntary work in the park and to give view to the seasonal changes in the bush itself.

Robin has been the driving force behind Wellington’s Sister City relationship with Hania in Greece.

In 1988, he was invited to join the Wellington Cretan Association as an Honorary Member. 
Robin was a key organiser of the last Sister City exchange to Hania and has taken many veterans to visit Crete on multiple occasions, leaving lasting impressions for all those involved. 

In 2021 Robin organised events in Wellington to commemorate the 80th Anniversary of the Battle of Crete, culminating with a keynote event at Parliament attended by Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson.

As Coordinator of the Friends of Ōwhiro Stream Restoration Project Martin has been a determined advocate for the protection of Wellington city's few remaining streams. 

Through his leadership, much has been achieved. Hundreds of tonnes of rubbish and weeds removed, and tens of thousands of native trees planted. 

His mahi goes well beyond physical restoration of the Ōwhiro stream. He engages and activates community and Council to creatively manage wastewater, stormwater and reduce waste to landfill for the combined wellbeing of people and the environment. Restoring the ora of the Ōwhiro stream for our children to play in and care for, is a driving force in his life.