Waikawa Beach resident John Hewitson has been recognised for his work in the beach community with a Civic Honours Award from Horowhenua District Council.
John has been chair of the Waikawa Beach Ratepayers Association for nearly 20 years. He officially retired from that role at the association’s AGM late last year, but has stayed on until a replacement can be found.
During his time, John has helped the WBRA to become a strong advocate for the beach community, communicating effectively through enviably articulate newsletters to members and other interested parties.
In the award citation, the Horowhenua council said John served his community quietly, with dedication, goodwill and without hesitation.
“He cares deeply about the community and the people within it,” the citation said.
John came to Waikawa Beach in 1999 and was soon elected as chair of the local ratepayers association. As chair, he has run the regular committee meetings and AGMs. He attends various meetings relevant to the community, such as the Manakau District Community Association AGMs, Waka Kotahi Ō2NL expressway meetings. He also represents the interests of Waikawa Beach residents at Horowhenua District Council consultations.
“John readily responds to community members who approach him and spends time and effort to ensure that the appropriate people or organisations address these concerns or issues,” the citation said. “He always lends a hand where there’s a need.”
Beyond the Waikawa Beach community, John has helped out extensively at the Levin Uniting Church, sorting out their electrical problems, installing Christmas lights every year and serving free Sunday night dinners.
Before moving to Waikawa Beach, John worked for 37 years with the Railways as an electrician and inspector. He then had a year working on a project at the Haywards sub-station, and eight years as a safety and civil defence officer with Victoria University.
He began his apprenticeship at the Addington workshops in Christchurch, where he grew up. He then worked variously at Woolston, Ōtira, Christchurch and Wellington.
On retirement in 1999, he and wife Mariette originally signed up for a section at Te Horo Beach, but the sale fell through. A former Railways friend, however, knew of a property at Waikawa Beach, which the couple bought. John completed the build of their house from the shell.
“He did me a favour,” John says of his friend.
John went to a meeting of the Waikawa Beach Ratepayers Association and someone put his name forward as chair. He’s been doing the job ever since.
The biggest challenge for the association has been vehicle access to the beach, complicated by the only track being on private land. Access is often limited when bad weather changes the river course, taking away part of the track.
“The land owners have been very good,” John says. “What we need is for the council to create a track on their land that is more permanent.”