Four locals have been recognised in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
Kirsten Hellier, a sports coach, of Howick has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM); Tracy Phillips, a senior police professional conduct manager, of Flat Bush was appointed a Member of the NZ Order of Merit (MNZM); Martine Abel-Williamson, an advocate and advisor in the disability sector, of Sunnyhills was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) and Linden May Johnson, a long-time volunteer of Howick, was also awarded a Queen’s Service Medal.
“It is a massive honour and privilege especially when I feel like I still have so much to do in fact in the rainbow space,” Inspector Phillips told the Times.
“I feel like I am just getting started. I have great support people and partners around me who must have supported the nomination so I feel a little embarrassed that I get the award when it is so much of a team effort.”
Meanwhile, Mrs Johnson said she has been involved as a volunteer in a number of different organisations and activities all her life.
“I believe that growing up on a farm in a very small community on the West Coast taught me the value and benefits of working with other like-minded and sharing people to achieve a result unachievable without their help such as haymaking while the weather was fine.
“I feel very honoured to have been nominated for this award by wonderful caring people, many of whom have also been volunteers.”
When the Times contacted Martine she was in Canada attending a conference of the World Blind Union. Speaking from Ottawa she said that she was very surprised when she first heard a month ago that she was honoured.
“I feel really humbled. It’s so nice to know that while you are busy doing the work you are passionate about, someone has nominated you. This is a huge acknowledgement and inspiration for me since there is so much more to be done for people with disability in terms of creating a better environment and transport in developing countries,” she says.
“The only person I shared the good news with was my husband when I got a letter asking if I’d accept the Queen’s Service Medal and if all the details mentioned are correct. But now we will celebrate with the family once the announcement is made.”
For services to sport, particularly athletics
Mrs Hellier pioneered New Zealand women’s javelin throwing and went on to become one of New Zealand’s most successful throwing coaches. Mrs Hellier was the New Zealand women’s javelin throwing champion in 1987, consecutively from 1989 to 1995, and in 1999. She represented New Zealand internationally on several occasions, won silver at the 1994 Commonwealth Games, and was the first New Zealand woman to throw the javelin 50 metres and 60 metres. She has coached numerous athletes to New Zealand titles and representations, including coaching and mentoring Dame Valerie Adams between 1998 and 2010. She coached at Macleans College in Auckland for 13 years before coaching at Howick College. She is currently High Performance Programme Coach – Throws with Athletics New Zealand. She has been athletics coach with a number of New Zealand teams competing internationally, including at the 2002 World Junior Championships, 2002 Commonwealth Games, 2004 and 2008 Olympic Games, the Oceania World Cup in 2006, and the World Athletic Championships in 2007 and 2009. She was throwing coach with Athletics China at the 2012 London Olympic Games. Locally Mrs Hellier currently holds coach and secretary roles with the Pakuranga Athletics Club.
AWARDS Halberg Awards, Coach of the Year, 2007 and 2008 Athletics New Zealand Coach of the Year, 2005 and 2008 Counties Manukau Sportswoman of the Year, 1992, 1994 and 1995
Inspector Tracy Phillips
For services to the New Zealand Police and the community
Inspector Tracy Phillips joined the New Zealand Police in 1990 and has delivered a number of projects beyond the scope of her assigned roles. Inspector Phillips was the driving force behind the introduction of the Tac Comms programme, developing a ‘train-the-trainers’ course which she has delivered in nine of the 12 police districts to date. She is coordinator of the Pan Auckland Police Horse Group and has organised mounted horse patrols, despite there being no official Mounted Horse Group within police, at various public events such as parades to foster positive public interactions. She has been a strong advocate in supporting the Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender Intersex (LGBTI) community’s relationship with the New Zealand Police. She has ensured LGBTI-friendly policies exist within police, that a Diversity Liaison Officer network is operational, as well as supporting the Pride Parade for the past four years. She initiated the ‘Paint the Cells’ project at Counties-Manukau District Custody Unit in 2015, enlisting artists from the community to brighten conditions for staff and detainees. Inspector Phillips ran an operation on behalf of New Zealand Police to repatriate New Zealand deportees from Australia, following changes to Australian federal legislation in 2015 that meant 585 New Zealanders faced deportation, with 200 held in immigration detention centres.
HONOURS New Zealand 1990 Commemoration Medal.
For services to the community
Linden Johnson has contributed more than 20 years of service to education, conservation and the Howick/Botany/East Tamaki community. Mrs Johnson has volunteered for a range of organisations. Over the course of 20 years, she has been on the Board of Trustees for West Melton and Howick College Schools, and Chairperson of the Board of Trustees for Howick Intermediate School. She has been the Secretary of the Point View Heritage Society since its inception in 2001 and has volunteered at the Howick Historical Village. Described as the guardian of Mangemangeroa Valley, she regularly volunteers to remove rubbish from the Point View Reserve and encourages others to do likewise. She is a lifelong member of the Royal Forest and Bird Protection Society of New Zealand as well as the Editor of Publications and serving committee member of the South Auckland Branch. She is active in the Auckland Council Pest Liaison Group and the Department of Conservation Nelson Lakes. She is a Guide for the Tiritiri Matangi Open Sanctuary and has volunteered at the Howick/Botany Trade Aid store for nearly 10 years. Among her involvement with numerous community organisations, Mrs Johnson is also a street co-ordinator for Neighbourhood Support, holding regular meetings on community safety.
For services to people with disabilities
Martine Abel-Williamson has been an advocate, lecturer, policy advisor, and service coordinator for New Zealand’s disability sector for 22 years and has held governance roles on a range of national and international bodies supporting vision impaired persons. Ms Abel-Williamson initially worked as a mental health councillor and later held roles with the Royal New Zealand Foundation of the Blind, including as Service Coordinator for the Auckland and Northland regions. From 2007 until 2018 she worked in various roles for Manukau City Council and then Auckland Council, including as Policy Advisor Disability and Strategic Advisor Disability. She is currently Treasurer at the global level of the World Blind Union. She is Regional UN Advocacy Network Co-ordinator of World Blind Union Asia-Pacific (WBUAP), having previously held positions with WBUAP such as Vice-President and Women’s Committee Chair. In these roles she has travelled the world to assist building international capacity in disability services in developing countries, as well as liaising in areas of systemic advocacy, specialising in access to the environment and transport. She chairs Auckland Disability Law, the only disability-specific community law centre in New Zealand. She has held governance roles with the Workbridge Council, the Guide Dog Society, Disability Connect, and Independent Living Service. Ms Abel-Williamson is currently the Vice-President of Blind Citizens New Zealand.