Who makes a difference in Hawke’s Bay?
In the December-January edition of BayBuzz Digest, we present a sort of social experiment.
BayBuzz has attempted to identify one hundred individuals in Hawke’s Bay who make an uncommon impact on the well-being of the region.
How can one make an uncommon impact? By excelling in some field of endeavor. By influencing the direction of local government on a regular basis. By leading and motivating others to become involved in community activities. By financially, or by outstanding personal service, supporting community causes and human needs. By championing our environment. By modeling important values and behaviours to others in the community. By significantly driving the region’s economic, social or cultural development.
The point of this exercise is to celebrate such contributions to the community. To give recognition and show appreciation, to cheer them on to do even more, and to encourage other people to make similar contributions.
In making our selections, we have tried to emphasize today and tomorrow over yesterday. But some individuals have made such a major mark on the community over time that they are included as well. Similarly, since this list is about Hawke’s Bay, we have emphasized individuals whose major focus is here in the region, as opposed to bigger ponds … although clearly the Bay is well-endowed with individuals who carry significant influence in the nation and even internationally.
Some might say a “Top 100” list is an audacious notion. That surely hundreds if not thousands of additional people around the Bay in one way or another make life in the Bay better for the rest of us. Does a “list” not detract from their contributions? And who decided this list anyway … what were their biases or blind spots?
Indeed, for some, the very idea of singling out an individual – however deserving – for his or her achievements, is un-Kiwi. It besmirches anti-tall poppy Kiwi egalitarianism. It’s a terrible idea that only a crass American would think of.
Fair enough … such concerns are legitimately felt and deserve being weighed. Each reader can come to his or her own judgment.
However, in support, this project has been greeted almost universally with enthusiasm. Of the twenty-five people – representing a broad swath of sectors and networks in the community – who were asked to “nominate” candidates for the list, only three did not respond. The rest were pleased to have an opportunity to call attention to individuals they believe deserve recognition. Some wrote amazing testimonials, full of detail, about people they admire. Remarks like:
“Loved, admired and respected by his students”
“A modest, unassuming man who makes a difference.”
“She is just an amazing person.”
“She is strong, but quiet and with the humility that often accompanies truly great leaders.
“This is one amazing man. I am in awe of him.”
The reality is, people have these positive impressions and feelings … why not express them?
Altogether, almost two hundred individuals were nominated, covering all sorts of sectors, interests and activities. I take full responsibility for sifting this splendid pool down to the finalists, as well as for selecting a “First Fifteen” list (with Reserves).
As you will see, some of the Top 100 Buzzmakers (actually, Top 90 … more on that in a moment) are prominent, active across a range of interests, and probably known to most readers. Others operate “below the radar” or in a specific sector and are not widely known by the public, but clearly have strong reputations and a following within their area of focus.
As for the First Fifteen, here is my reasoning. If you had to put only a limited number of people in a room and ask them to address any challenge we face here in the Bay, this is the team I’d want on the case (see list at bottom). This is a group with a wide range of skills, experiences and perspectives. If these fifteen strong personalities all agreed on a strategy or solution, you can bet that it would be deeply and comprehensively examined, prudent in business terms, future proof, tasteful, culturally sensitive, just, environmentally sound, and in the broad public interest.
Hmmm … maybe we should elect them Councillors!
So view our Top 100 Buzzmakers. Come up with your own First Fifteen. No doubt you will disagree with some of the selections. I myself disagree, strongly, on certain issues with some of these individuals. But, by and large, I hope you will agree with our nominators that this is a group of Hawke’s Bay’s finest citizens and contributors, deserving of our recognition.
Actually, as I mentioned, so far there are only 90 Top Buzzmakers. The final ten are up to you.
If there’s someone not on the list who you believe should be, let me know. Send your nominee(s), with a few sentences of background, to firstname.lastname@example.org. Or mail your recommendation to BayBuzz, PO Box 8322, Havelock North 4157 (you can use the form on page 7). And in our next BayBuzz Digest (February), we will announce the final ten selected and top off the 100 Buzzmakers of Hawke’s Bay.
More importantly, if there’s someone not on the list who you believe should be, let them know. Your recognition will mean heaps to them and help keep their fire burning.
Douglas Lloyd Jenkins
Special thanks to Elizabeth Sisson for helping to compile Buzzmaker backgrounds.