Community Recognition Ceremony - Maera Maki-AndersonMaori Development
We are here tonight to celebrate a very special person. For 26 years has worked vigilantly as a volunteer firefighter to keep this community safe.
It is my privilege to be at this community recognition ceremony to honor Maera Maki-Anderson, chief fire officer of the Murupara Volunteer Fire Brigade.
In September this year, Maera was bestowed with the Pride of New Zealand Award in the Emergency Services category.
The awards recognise those who make extraordinary personal sacrifices for the benefit of their community. They go above and beyond to help, save and care for others and their environment.
A passionate volunteer firefighter I understand Maera single-handedly saved the town’s fire brigade.
What’s even more amazing is that Maera, along with 43 other family members including her parents, siblings, cousins, and daughters - are all past or present members of the fire brigade!
In 2012, volunteer numbers dropped from 20 to seven which would have put the brigade in jeopardy.
The local service would have been replaced by a dispatch from Rotorua that would have taken 45 minutes to get here.
As we know, those 45 minutes could easily have put someone’s life and house at risk.
Dedicating herself to saving the Kaingaroa Forest Volunteer Fire Brigade, Maera set up a Help Save Kaingaroa Fire Brigade page on Facebook.
She went door to door to drum up volunteers and ran a recruitment drive.
Gaining support and rallying the community, Maera kept the brigade going with 14 new people signing up to volunteer!
I am told she arranges combined training to get all recruits up to speed. A lot of her free time is spent running extra sessions for those who can't make regular training nights.
When nominated for the Award, Maera was described as ‘an amazing person who deserves to be recognised for the dedicated service she provides to her community’.
She is one of those rare types that we aspire to be like.
She has a dedicated and selfless commitment to those around her.
Typically, Maera was stunned when she heard she had been nominated for the Pride of New Zealand Award.
“That’s what the fire service is all about. I’m here to help the community, and I do that in whatever way I can.”
Dedicated. Selfless. Committed.
After initially going along with one of her whānau to join the brigade, she has been there ever since.
“It’s a passion and it’s in the blood,” says Maera.
“I think I would have to die if I was to give it up.”
Murupara, you have your very own special kaitiaki; someone who genuinely cares for the people around her.
Someone recently Facebooked about Maera.
They said that volunteer work is not for the faint hearted. It takes great discipline and a huge passion.
“Once again through sheer determination and will power, she saved her beloved firefighting department in Murupara. Ngā mihi kia koe whaea.”
Another described her as ‘wahine toa’ – a woman to be proud of.
“Like all wahine toa she faced her challenges by not giving up; and by believing in herself and those around her.”
This is the true test of character.
Congratulations to you Maera and to your whānau who must be so very proud of you!
Congratulations Murupara and Kaingaroa for honouring such an awesome woman and leader!
And thank you for letting me share in this very special occasion tonight.