2016 Anzac of Year Announced
2016 Anzac of the Year Barbara Cunningham receives her award from His Excellency, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae
The Governor-General, Lt Gen The Rt Hon Sir Jerry Mateparae presented the 2015 Anzac of the Year Award to Mataura community hero Barbara Cunningham at a function at Government House in Wellington on Friday the 22nd April.
Barbara is a former midwife and has lived in Mataura for 33 years. She is an unsung hero of the Mataura community and works tirelessly to support community-good projects while accepting very little recognition or reward for her efforts.
The Mataura Community Garden is an initiative that grew from an idea of Barbara’s. She was concerned that many people didn’t know how to grow plants, and she could see the potential for a community garden to help support struggling families in the area. It took some time to get the project off the ground, but Barbara persevered.
The Community Garden has now grown into so much more than Barbara’s original vision, thanks to donations from the council and local businesses, and a very enthusiastic group of volunteers and is a great source of community pride. Any community member can come and select vegetables on a Saturday morning for a gold coin donation; the local Meals on Wheels service is supported through the provision of vegetables to ensure that local residents have access to a freshly made meal each day; local family families can access fresh produce for any family in need at any time
Barbara’s passion and organisation have ensured the success of this project through the way she has drawn people in. The Mataura Community Garden and Mataura School Garden Club were much deserved winners of the Community Impact Award at the 2015 Gore District Community Awards.
Barbara and the Mataura Community Garden group took over provision of the Meals on Wheels service to Mataura residents when they discovered that the Meals on Wheels packages were pre-made and frozen in bulk prior to delivery. The group, spearheaded by Barbara, set about finding a way to provide a locally made, fresh meal to those in need, all within the set budgets thanks to produce donated by the Community Garden. In addition, it is publicly known that the Meals and Wheels service in Mataura is not limited to elderly residents, but that anyone in the community with a short or long term need could have meals provided to them and Barbara is the point of contact for anyone wanting to access this service.
In 2012 Barbara was elected to the Mataura Community Board and has held that position since.