During the weekend I had the complete pleasure of being a judge at the fabulous Russell Birdman Festival. It is estimated that the population trebled. The town will have enjoyed a roaring trade during our coldest month and the locals had a fun and frivolous weekend.
A few weeks ago, I attended the Kawakawa Business and Community AGM and heard about all the activities they are undertaking to support local prosperity. Focus Paihia is going great-guns with the development of the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park. Love Opua and Vision Kerikeri continue to work on community and people projects. Kaikohe has a group of like-minded individuals focused on regeneration, while Kaitaia has wonderful town beautification activities… and the list goes on.
The common theme, of course, is that all these activities are led by passionate volunteers. People that have chosen to make a difference. Chosen to stick their necks out, to donate time, resources and energy to bring about change in the most proactive, uplifting and encouraging way. These people enrich our communities. They are part of the hope and aspirations so much needed in a time when far too many of our beautiful people struggle with depression, a lack of direction, or who cannot find their place, their value.
For the Far North to truly prosper we need to encourage and support these local leaders. They are role models, change agents; the quiet achievers, making a difference one day at a time. Whether the outcome is purely fun (and we could all do with more laughter), economically driven, advocates or making someone’s day – the purpose is always to make the world a better place. With over 40 communities in the Far North, each with its own identity, its own strengths and challenges, we need to get in behind these local heroes. And if there isn’t one in your community, be one.
Although it can be hard going at times (there are always people ready to throw stones), the rewards are worth it. The personal satisfaction that comes from community success should not be under-estimated. It grows self-worth, and feelings of value and connectedness. Volunteering – the selfless act of giving to others – brings about happiness.
We are a large district with a small population and an even smaller rate base. We need each other. We need strong communities and a strong district. We need to remember that we are all in this together and that our collective approach, our support of each other, can be a game-changer.
So thank you to all our volunteers for being part of making a better, stronger tomorrow. We celebrate you. Nominations for the Far North Citizen Awards close at the end of the month. Let’s celebrate the people making a difference in our communities. Please nominate your local super heroes and let’s honour the difference they are making. For further details go to the FNDC website: www.fndc.govt.nz.