Saluting our stalwarts

I was privileged to represent Waikato District Council at a Matangi community gathering last weekend to honour a long-standing community stalwart Graham Membery.

Crystal Beavis

Graham was born in Matangi and has lived there all his life until retiring to Cambridge this year. For most of that time he has served his community in many ways – helping build the Matangi Hall as an apprentice more than 60 years ago and maintaining it through years of service on the hall committee, chairing the Matangi Drainage Board for nearly 30 years, establishing and then chairing the Matangi Community Committee for 12 years and working to obtain local amenities like the Jack Foster Reserve.  He is also a life member of Matangi Indoor Bowling Club and has helped lead Waikato Indoor Bowls to a number of national trophies over the years.

He was recognised with a Waikato District Mayoral Award in 2015 and at the weekend he was presented with a certificate of appreciation from the Waikato Regional Council. The community presented him with a framed aerial photograph of Matangi past and present showing the changes that have taken place in his lifetime.

In my role I am glad to have come to know many special people, like Graham, who help provide the rest of us with a sense of community – people who care about where we live and how we look after our local environment, and who encourage others to band together to take some responsibility for our neighbours and our community. They never seek accolades – but they win the respect and gratitude of us all.

So thank you to all those who sit on local committees, run sports clubs, and fundraise for shared benefits.

It brings to mind that New Zealand grew and developed as a nation as a result of cooperation for mutual benefit, and not just at community level. Our dairy industry is based on the cooperative model, marketing and producer boards have played an essential role in our agricultural exports, building societies have helped many families into home ownership, electric power boards were established in the 1920s as consumer-owned utilities and nearly half our lines companies are still identified as consumer-owned by the Commerce Commission.

We’ve just commemorated Anzac Day and the continuing popularity of the day is associated with the values it represents – courage, endurance, sacrifice, and comradeship. We honour those who fell, and we also honour those who returned to rebuild lives and communities back home.

Hard work, kindness, tolerance and friendship endure as values that we share. Let’s continue to honour those values in the way we work together to build our communities for the benefit of all.


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