Mayor Rachel Reese with the Eelco Boswijk Civic Awards winners, L-R, Sophie Bisdee (on behalf of Glenn Bisdee), Megan Rutledge, Nigel Andrews, Rod Witte, Mayor Rachel Reese, Ian Price, Debs Martin, John-Paul Pochin.

Local heroes recognised


Nelson’s strong community spirit was celebrated at the Eelco Boswijk Civic Awards ceremony last night.

191 nominations were received across the six categories in this year’s awards, with 41 individuals and organisations recognised at last night’s ceremony, highlighting their outstanding efforts in making Nelson an even better place.

Mayor Rachel Reese presented the awards and said the ceremony showcased Nelson’s distinctive community spirit.

“These awards highlight the special character of our community and were a chance to thank those who are making a difference here in Nelson. These are great people who make Nelson an even better place to live.”

The winners across each of the categories were as follows:


1. Community Hero

This award is about encouraging those who both lead and take part in community activities.

Winner: John-Paul Pochin

John-Paul is a stand out community hero, notably for Light Nelson, but also for his innovative and positive influence across the cycling community. He is the creative force behind Light Nelson, generating and nurturing the idea from humble beginnings, to the event it is now. He is a passionate drive of community volunteers and his efforts in the community, in making this city a better place to live, are to be commended. He is a true Community Hero.


2. Community Spirit

This award recognises individuals and organisations that work to ensure resources are shared fairly and Nelsonians have their essential needs met.

Winner: Glenn Bisdee

Glenn’s project, Keeping Kids Warm, is one which assists the Nelson community, and those in need. Glen has identified the vital importance of warm homes for our families and our children and has acted on his own initiative to do all he can to fill this need. In doing so, he is also inspiring others to join him.


3. Leadership

This award recognises those in the business or education fields who are thriving in a sustainable way, and educating and encouraging others to do the same.

Joint Winners: Debs Martin and Nigel Andrews

Debs Martin

Invasive weeds are one of the greatest threats to New Zealand’s parks and reserves and Debs is doing a fantastic job getting rid of weeds like Climbing Asparagus, Banana Passionfruit and Old Man’s Beard. Debs is what you’d call a natural activist, working tirelessly to champion our natural environment through Nelson Weedbusters.

Nigel Andrews

Nigel champions community involvement with the staff at his Z stations. He encourages them to use time to volunteer for local charities and organisations, and to make a difference in their local area. Together, over the last year, Nigel and his team have donated time in the community across a number of organisations, including, but not limited to: Habitat for Humanity, Cancer Society, Arthritis NZ, Breast Cancer NZ, Nelson Ark and the Tahunanui Community Garden. His leadership has empowered and inspired his team in many ways, and truly supported our community. He looks to give in other areas also, for example, giving away 270 kilos of apples at the Z Energy sites. He provides free talks at the Nelson Community College to help the unemployed in their search for employment and is a true community leader.


4. Kaitiakitanga

This award is about raising awareness of those who are caring for our natural environment through volunteer efforts.

Winner: Ian Price

Ian is being recognised for his tireless leadership of the Paremata Flats restoration project – a voluntary community effort to repair this valuable ecosystem for future generations. Over 11,500 volunteer hours have gone into the project to date and now the planting of all the areas of the Flats has been completed – massive achievement that would not have been possible without Ian’s dedication and hard work.


5. Smart Living

This award recognises those going above and beyond to reduce resource consumption and/or embracing alternatives to fossil fuels.

Winner: Rod and Ngaire Witte

The Wittes’ new home in Atawhai Drive embraces many environmental and eco friendly initiatives, including passive solar design, rainwater collection, universal design, recycled materials, non toxic building materials, to name a few. The Wittes opened their new home recently, as part of the Library’s Environment Week, allowing the public to view their house and sharing their vast knowledge and ingenious solutions and ideas for sustainable homes. Their home is a stellar example of smart living.


6. Change Maker

This award recognises those who are environmentally innovative and who embrace change in the business and/or the community.

Winner: Megan Rutledge

As Director of Natureland, Megan is turning the zoo into a community asset, leading her team of staff and volunteers to change. Meg has transformed Natureland into a viable, sustainable trust and conservation centre. Since they took over management in 2014, welfare has been at the forefront of their thinking. Meg has changed the philosophy of Natureland and is continuing to pave the way for the local zoo, with new partnerships in place with other local organisations, including with the Brook Waimarama Sanctuary Trust, with the aim of breeding, raising and releasing kaka and other native birds back into the region. Meg is a true Change Maker.