Everyday SuperHeroes acknowledged at special award evening

Friday 16 February, 2024

The War Memorial Theatre provided a grand backdrop for last night’s Tairāwhiti SuperHero Awards, which honoured everyday people who did extraordinary things in the wake of Cyclone Gabrielle last year.

As we reflect one year on from the devasting Cyclone Gabrielle, Mayor Rehette Stoltz says it’s important to show Tairāwhiti some aroha and give thanks to amazing people in the community who supported other whānau in need and to get through in the aftermath of Cyclone Gabrielle.

She described the stories of outstanding acts and contributions shared with the crowd as both heartwarming and heartbreaking.

“This time last year everything that could be broken was broken. But we know how to look after each other in this region.

“If you visited someone, picked up some medicine or looked after a neighbour’s dog – these are all things that touch people’s lives, and every little check-in made a huge difference.”

Close to 300 people came together to acknowledge around 150 people called to the stage to receive an award and gift.

Mayor Stoltz says, “We’re a close community and through adversity, we’ve shown time and again how we come together.

“Let’s not think of this as a celebration but as an acknowledgment for everything we did as a community.”

Most of those nominated had shared with her that they didn’t feel worthy of any award.

“I want to say to everyone, that you are so worthy, you touched so many lives. Thank you so much for looking after our community.”

Those who were acknowledged included a teacher who created a pop-up school in their garage, and electricity workers who hiked across rivers with gear on their backs to connect the region. Some opened their homes for people who’d lost theirs and many made the meals that fed displaced families and staff who worked very long hours.

The evening provided plenty of laughs from MC’s and Turanga FM presenters Rāhia Timutimu and Matai Smith. There were tears too as many of those who were nominated for awards had had their own homes impacted as well.

Tairāwhiti duo Samantha Grace and Hadow Reid provided a musical interlude at the midpoint of the ceremony. They sang the song “Chosen”, written by Tewhaiororangihuia Webster of Te Karaka, and finished off with a great rendition of Bonnie Tyler’s, “I Need a Hero”.

Picture below: MCs Rāhia Timutimu and Matai Smith from Turanga FM

MCs Rāhia Timutimu and Matai Smith from Turanga FM