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18/11/2021 1:15pm

“Covid may have cancelled a lot of things lately but one thing it hasn’t cancelled is the dedication and commitment from people in our community to make a difference. Year on year I’m so impressed with the calibre of the folk who are nominated by the community for these citizenship awards. I take my hat off to all of them", said Mayor Toby Adams.

The OnYa Award 2021 recipients are:

OnYa – for knocking it out of the park!

Award for service or achievement in Sport or Recreation

  • Jessica Penwarden – a sporting role model at Paeroa College, including putting lacrosse on the map as a sport in Hauraki. Outstanding Goalie and huge fundraising effort for kids’ cancer, raising $1000.00 by shaving her head.
  • Rimu Alexander – a role model for players at Thames Valley Touch and Paeroa College’s Individual Sportsperson of the year. ‘Someone to watch out for in the coming years.’
  • Reefe Benny – Deputy Head Boy of Hauraki Plains College where he still finds time to be an academic tutor and junior academic leader as well at umpire at New Zealand Under 18 Netball championships.
  • Kyla Walker – Head Girl of Waihi College where she helped implement the Wellness Warriors program along with supporting SADD, Breakfast Club, Waihi Leos, Waihi Swim Club and Shave for a Cure.
  • Bree McCowatt – Head Girl Hauraki Plains College where she also finds time to be a Ngatea Swimming Club coach, win Eastern Region U19 Lifeguard of the Year award and represent NZ at the 2019 World Deaf Swimming Championships. She is also received the Tania Dalton Foundation Scholarship.
  • Ben Hennessy – House Leader at Waihi College. An NZ U19 Sprint Triathlon team member; Learn to Swim teacher, volunteer sports coach, captain of the College, first XV football team and holder of cross country; 3000m, 1500m and triathlon records at Waihi College.
OnYa - for working together to make a difference

Community group award for service to the community

  • Mairi Jay – Paeroa Stream Care Trust is in good hands under Mairi’s tireless dedication to organising school planting events, monthly plantings and rallying volunteers. Projects include The Millennium Forest and the Ainslie Road stream restoration.
  • Margaret Andreassen – Feeding and attending to abandoned or stray cats through desexing programmes; fostering and rehoming strays and running a charity shop to help fund activities are all in a day’s work for Margaret from Waihi Town Cats. She works tirelessly for cats and helps anyone who asks her.
  • Jana Smith – Head Student at Paeroa College, as well as Student Rep on the school’s Board of Trustees 2021 and leader of the Student Council. During lockdown, Jana made up and distributed food parcels and also represents the College’s Open A netball team
  • Sarah Keall – Cultural Student Leader at Waihi College; who restarted Students Against Drink Driving Committee and formed the College’s mental Health Awareness Group as well as being a volunteer teacher at Precision Dance, President of Waihi Leos, a Keep Waihi Beautiful representative and a recipient of the Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award.
  • Thomas Neil Gray – As well as 20 year’s service with the Haurakian Charitable Trust, Thomas has also had over 20 years’ experience as a dedicated Search and Rescue volunteer and held positions of Team Leader, President, Treasurer and Training Officer. He’s the first to be called for a search and rescue due to his knowledge, skills and all round ability.
  • Adam Matete – Ngatea residents know Adam as the man who’s ‘everyone’s friend, mate, support, mentor, coach.’ The Annual Up in Smoke BBQ competition and the Ngatea 12 Week Fitness Challenge, along with coaching primary school rugby, community garden clean ups and charity fund raisers are just some of his community initiatives!
OnYa - for enhancing and enriching our lives

Award for service or achievement in Arts or Culture

  • Pauline Germon – Royal Academy of Dance – Pauline’s a Ballet and Contemporary Dance Teacher who inspires students to go on to the highest level of training and achievement at national and international levels. Pauline hosts a summer intensive dance programme and her annual ballet shows are a highlight for her dancers.
OnYA - Tu Meke Award

Special award for outstanding service to the community

  • Walter Tye – There’s not much that Walter hasn’t been involved with in Paeroa as a Rotarian for over 20 years. V8 Car & Motorcycle Show; Vintage & Classic Car Show; Strange Road Charity Rides, Volunteer at the Highland Games; Co-Op Parish Committee; Paeroa Carehouse and kids’ day camps have all benefited from Walter’s commitment to the community. Add in NZ Jaycees and Federated Farmers and it’s clear that Walter’s generosity with his time is everywhere.
  • Barry Williams – Another Paeroa Rotarian for over 20 years, Barry’s quiet demeanour and deep consideration for others is reflected in his involvement with Ngatea Scouts, Kaihere School, Homes for Humanity in Fiji and Nepal, Hauraki Plains College and the Paeroa Community Support Trust. Add in his Rotary community volunteer work and Barry’s commitment to his community is hard to beat.
  • Bill and Ngaire Tissingh – This couple have supported the community in 100 different ways through their work as pastoral carers, family counsellors, a marriage and funeral celebrant and their church work. Their faith is evident in everything they do and bringing out the best in youth through opportunities in sport and guidance through life means they have impacted many people’s lives since Bill started Paeroa Christian School in 1987.
Good OnYa, they made a difference!

Mayor Adams thanked all the recipients for their contribution to sports, culture and community in Hauraki District.

“I’m an energiser bunny and even I’m astounded at the amount of things our recipients get involved in to make their communities happy, healthy and connected places. The awards evening was our opportunity to say Good OnYa, you’ve made a difference”, said Mayor Adams.

Refresh, rebrand of Citizenship Awards

The ONYA Awards are a refresh and rebrand of HDC’s previously named Citizen and Young Achiever Awards. The goal was to to refresh, broaden the scope and be more inclusive in the way we acknowledge and celebrate outstanding community service within the Hauraki District.


Back Row L-R: Sarah Keall, John Alexander (accepting on behalf of Rimu Alexander), Ben Hennessy, Reefe Benny, Thomas Neil Gray, Bree McCowatt, Barry Williams, Adam Matete, Jana Smith

Middle Row L-R: Walter Tye, Pauline Germon, Kyla Walker, Mairi Jay, Margaret Andressen, Jessica Penwarden

Front Row L-R: Bill & Ngaire Tissingh, Mayor Toby Adams

OnYa Awards  Group