Ōtaki’s own Rupene Waaka received the prestigious Mayoral Award at the Kāpiti Civic Awards last week.
Rupene was recognised for his many achievements by Mayor K Gurunathan. The mayor selects people who offer extraordinary service to the Kāpiti community.
Rupene has a long history of service to his Ngāti Raukawa iwi, his hapū, and the Kāpiti community, as well as to New Zealand through his 20 years of service in the Navy. He has been trustee at Tainui Marae and Tainui Urupa in Ōtaki since 1988, and has held numerous other influential positions including Ngāti Kapu executive representative and then tumuaki for Te Rūnanga O Raukawa, Ngāti Raukawa/Ngā Hapū-o-Ōtaki representative on Ara Tahi, Ngāti Raukawa iwi representative and report writer for the Department of Conservation wāhi tapu sites; Raukawa Marae trustee representative for Ōtaki and Porirua Trusts Board, trustee for Raukawa ki te Tonga Trust, and chair of Ngā Hapū o Ōtaki.
Rupene represented Ngāti Raukawa, and was one of the signatories for the iwi at the first signing of the memorandum of partnership between Kāpiti Coast District Council and mana whenua on the Kāpiti Coast in 1994.
The memorandum established an independent advisory forum for the partnership, and in 1995 Rupene presented a choice of names to the forum, with the three iwi deciding on Te Whakaminenga o Kāpiti (The Confederation of Kāpiti). He is a founding member and has chaired the group since 2013.
Rupene is a lecturer and researcher at Te Wānanga o Raukawa, with an extensive background knowledge in environmental projects and historical knowledge of his iwi. He is also a justice of the peace and a marriage celebrant.
The Civic Awards are the council’s highest honour for people and groups who’ve made a lasting impact in the community. Based on public nominations, the council gives awards based on exemplary service or leadership in their community.
Ōtaki was well represented. Receiving awards were Joseph Te Wiata, well known for his support of locals shopping at New World during last year’s lockdown, and the Cobblers Soup Lunch Group (see page 25).
In the Kāpiti section of the Wellington Airport Community Awards, also awarded at the Council Chambers on August 4, Ōtaki shone as well.
Zero Waste Ōtaki won both the heritage and environment category, and rising star award.
The Ōtaki Foodbank and the Ōtaki St John’s health shuttle service were highly commended in the health and well-being category.
Zero Waste grew from an idea to re-purpose good wood that was going to the landfill, in an effort to reduce waste. The Zero Waste Ōtaki Trust, with council support, established a site at the Ōtaki transfer station where wood dropped off and purchased.
The Ōtaki Foodbank has been operating for more than 25 years. Despite the strain recently imposed on by Covid, the foodbank now provides about 1500 food parcels to whānau and people in need every year.
The Ōtaki St John’s Shuttle service has been in operation for two years and is 100 percent run by volunteers. In the absence of public transport, the service picks up residents for hospital appointments and public health services.