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One of the projects carried out by volunteers which contribute to this exciting new space include the ‘Free Little Library’ book exchange which is housed in the red Telephone kiosk.
Jess Somerville, Trustpower Community Relations Representative

Over 130 people gathered at Te Ahu this evening for the Trustpower Far North Community Awards which were presented by Far North Mayor John Carter and Trustpower Community Relations Manager Graeme Purches.

For winning the Supreme Award, Focus Paihia received a framed certificate, a trophy and $1,500 prize money. Focus Paihia now has the opportunity to represent the region at the 2014 Trustpower National Community Awards, which are being held in the Wellington region in March 2015.

In total, Trustpower has given away over $5,000 to various community groups through tonight’s Awards.

Far North District Mayor John Carter says there are hundreds of community and voluntary organisations doing great work right across the Far North District.

“These Awards are a great opportunity to recognise the remarkable work these groups do within these communities,” says Mayor Carter.

Trustpower Community Relations Representative Jess Somerville agrees and says it's incredible what can be achieved when people come together to take charge of their own communities future and achieve a common goal.

“Formerly setup in 2010, Focus Paihia is a grassroots organisation started by a motivated group of locals with an ambitious and exciting vision for their friendly little town. They wanted Paihia to blossom and thrive and they have involved and facilitated the communities’ ideas every step of the way.

“Over the last 12 months with the help of incredible community support, ample fundraising and community spirit under their Phantom Placemaker alias they have actioned their biggest project yet which saw a waterfront car park revamped and revitalised with greenery and public spaces. Under the name Horotutu “Our Place”, this space underwent a considerable transformation with each layer of the project carried out on a lean budget with materials sourced from donations where possible or obtained at cost.

“Some of the projects carried out by volunteers which contribute to this exciting new space include the ‘Free Little Library’ book exchange which is housed in the red Telephone kiosk; 16 large moveable outdoor wave seats and the attractive seating that was constructed around the base of the trees in the park. On top of this there is the giant Noughts and Crosses game boards; beautiful stone art piece and water bottle refilling station which was initiated and carried out by local students and adding to the ambience of the park there is a public piano. Then there is the substantial decking throughout the park, stunning water feature and incredible lighting that highlights these features at night.

“Every layer of this project has been volunteer driven involving hundreds of volunteers, contractors donating their time and volunteer bakers across the community. Then there is the team helping to fund this project at the Focus Paihia Opportunity Shop which is run entirely by volunteers and provided one third of the entire budget of the park revamp.

“Whilst this is just a snapshot of all that went into this project its clear that is it particularly powerful having been community driven and implemented. It has turned a formally unloved car park into a hugely popular green space using a recipe that links hand and hearts in a united cause and has changed Paihia for the better. You can see the pride right across the community in a cause well supported and a job well done”, says Miss Somerville.

Sixty-three entries were received for this year’s Trustpower Far North Community Awards. Other award recipients at tonight’s Trustpower Far North Community Awards were:

Heritage and Environment
Winner: Puketi Forest Trust
Runner-up: Kaikohe & Districts Historical & Mechanical Trust - Pioneer Village
Commendation: Herekino Landcare Group Incorporated

Health and Wellbeing
Winner: Whare Timatatanga Hou Ora - Kaitaia Women's Refuge
Runner-up: Mid North Women’s Aid and Refuge
Commendation: Waimamaku Wild West Festival

Arts and Culture
Winner: Chris Wilkie & the Northland College Mural team
Joint Runner-up: Far North Avocado Festival Trust
Joint Runner-up: Hokianga Tui Tuia Trust Incorporated

Sports and Leisure
Winner: Kerikeri Netball Centre
Runner-up: Special Olympics Bay of Islands
Commendation: Hokianga Sailing Trust

Education and Child/Youth Development
Winner: Bay of Islands Group Riding for the Disabled Association Incorporated
Runner-up: Far North Holiday Camps

Youth Spirit
Winner: Cody Makaua
Runner-up: Melissa Chapman

Supreme Winner
Focus Paihia Community Charitable Trust