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Community heroes recognised by Coca-Cola

15 October 2004

Community heroes recognised by Coca-Cola 10 finalists selected from around New Zealand

New Zealander's passion for the environment and active lifestyles has lead to 10 finalists being selected for the inaugural Coca-Cola Community Choice Awards.

These awards aim to reward and recognise those who are inspiring others to make a positive difference either through promoting active lifestyles in young people or through environmental projects. Overall, 50 nominations were received from the public around New Zealand.

'The inaugural community choice awards have engaged community spirited people across the nation. We want to reward and recognise these people for doing their bit,' says Alison Sykora, Region Corporate Affairs Manager.

The finalists for the Environmental Award are:

· Diane Prince, Moehau Environmental Group (Coromandel) · Rob Shaw, Taneatua Primary School (Eastern Bay of Plenty) · Mike Wilson, Conservation Corp (Raukara Waikato Social Services) · Steve Bush, Trees for Canterbury · Janice Cowley, Ngatimoti School (Nelson)

The finalists for the Active Lifestyles Award are:

· Maureen Perry, Kaitaia Gymnastics Club · Karen Newport, Ngaruawahia Youth Community Programme · Bernard Conradson, Hokitika Squash and Tennis Club · Jillian Mitchel, Canterbury Ashma Society · Bruce Irvine, Oxford Soccer Club, Rangiora

Each of the 10 finalists (five from each section) has won $500 worth of their choice of Coca-Cola product. The grand prize for each category winner is a $2000 grant for their organisation or project and a trip to Auckland to spend the day with Robert Swan OBE*.

The two category winners will be announced at a Gala Dinner being held in Auckland on November 4, featuring Robert Swan as the guest of honour. Profits made from this fundraising event will also be given to the two Award winners to help them continue their work in the community.

'My experiences have taught me that individuals can choose to make a difference and I'm pleased to be able to recognise New Zealanders who have done this through the Coca-Cola Community Choice Awards,' says Robert Swan.

* Robert Swan OBE is passionate about protecting the environment and encouraging active lifestyles. An inspirational man, he is the first person to have walked to both the South and North Poles. His environmental work includes organising the removal of over 1000 tonnes of solid waste from Antarctica, using a team of 200 people from 60 nations. He will be visiting New Zealand in early November as part of the Coca-Cola Community Choice Awards.

About Coca-Cola

Together, Coca-Cola Amatil NZ and Coca-Cola Oceania manufacture, market and distribute more than 100 beverage brands and flavours in New Zealand. These include soft drinks, diet drinks, juices and juice drinks, cordials, waters, sports drinks and energy drinks.

Coca-Cola Amatil is the authorised bottler of The Coca-Cola Company's products in New Zealand. The two companies employ more than 1000 people and CCA has plants in Auckland, Christchurch and Putaruru.

Coca-Cola's contribution to the New Zealand community includes the annual Coca-Cola Christmas in the Park events in Auckland and Christchurch and The Coca-Cola Careers Expo in Dunedin, Wellington, Christchurch and Auckland. Our partnership with the National Association of OSCAR (Out of School Care and Recreation) has resulted in Go Kids!, a national physical activity programme being made available to 500 out of school groups and more than 100,000 young New Zealanders.

About the 10 Finalists Canterbury Asthma Society

Jillian Mitchell, Service Co-ordinator for Canterbury Asthma Society, is jubilant her work and her association has received national recognition.

The Canterbury Asthma Society looks for innovative ways to help young people with asthma.

'Instead of lecturing young asthmatics, we aim to involve them,' she says.

The subsidised swim lessons run by the society are an example of this. Swimming is an excellent exercise for asthmatics as it improves lung capacity, encourages good breathing techniques and promotes physical activity.

Hokitika Squash & Tennis Club

Bernie Conradson, from the Hokitika Squash & Tennis Club, enjoys seeing young people excel at sport.

He is one of 10 finalists in the inaugural Coca-Cola Community Choice Awards.

For almost three decades he has been coaching West Coast youth in squash and tennis. He set up an Under 18 squash competition in the late 1970s and has coached more than 400 youngsters since then.

A 64, he says squash is too strenuous and has turned his attention to tennis. He still plays, and coaches junior tennis players. He has also raised enough money to re-seal three tennis courts.

'I think you've got to push yourself beyond your limits. Sport let's young people do this. Plus they enjoy it and it keeps them healthy,' he says.

Kaitaia Gymnastic Club

Maureen Perry, Head Coach of the Kaitaia Gymnastics Club, is overwhelmed her work and her association has received national recognition.

She says the gymnastics club has been running for many years and, with a membership of 140 gymnasts, it now needs a home of its own.

'If we won, we would put the prize money towards our new stadium ' which we've already raised $500,000 for. It's a great surprise to receive such recognition for all the time and effort the coaches and committee put in,' she says.

Karen Newport

Karen Newport has encouraged many young people from the Ngaruawahia and Huntly communities to lead an active lifestyle.

'I love working with children, so I just find the time to do it,' she said.

Her tireless work, particularly for the Ngaruawahia holiday programme and North Waikato Police Bluelight Venture, were key achievements noted in her nomination.

The last Christmas holiday programme saw 529 children participating. While the social events organised via the Bluelight Venture are a positive way year six to year eight students from around the district can interact.

She is also involved with the Ngaruawahia Primary School Soccer Club and manager of the Under 17 Tainui netball team.

Oxford Soccer Club

Bruce Irvine, President of the Oxford Soccer Club, was the driving force behind forming the club two years ago.

Previously, Oxford had limited opportunities for young people to participate in local sport. Now, about 96 boys and girls are turning up for games every week.

'This is fantastic for our kids. What's also special is that we always offer refreshments after our home games, so the children learn about the spirit of being a good sport too,' he says.

Moehau Environmental Group

Diane Prince, Moehau Environmental Group member, helps visitors appreciate the ecological beauty of the district during summer months.

The 2003 summer programme saw 350 visitors take part in 29 guided walks in the northern Coromandel area. The purpose of the programme is to educate people on the native flora and fauna and the threats they face.

Overall, the group is making a significant difference to the area through pest eradication. By attempting to rid the area of possum, stoats and rats it makes it easier for native birds, such as dotterel and kiwi to breed.

'Our group is really pleased to receive this recognition,' she says.

Taneatua School

Rob Shaw, Taneatua School Principal, and his teachers are helping students better understand the environment.

>From making compost, via worm farms, to propagating seedlings through to developing a native bush area the children play a role every step of the way.

The school has worked with Environment Bay of Plenty to plant trees and flaxes along the river banks of the Whakatane and Waimana rivers.

'For some of our children it's something they can get their teeth into and succeed at,' he says.

Conservation Corp

Mike Wilson, Supervisor of Conservation Corp programmes in Morrinsville and Huntly, is delighted his organisation has received national recognition.

Via the Conservation Corp programmes Mike runs, he helps unemployed youths aged 16 ' 25 gain a better understanding of the environment.

'This programme offers youth new challenges and helps them appreciate what's around them. It's better than being indoors.'

Thanks to his efforts, and in conjunction with the Departments of Conservation in Waikato and the Bay of Plenty, his groups have been responsible for pest eradication, regeneration of native flora, beautification of riversides and tracks, plus environmental research.

Ngatimoti School

Janice Cowley, from Ngatimoti School, is helping students understand the eco-systems of streams and surrounding vegetation.

The school is part of an environmental education pilot scheme. As such, the children were asked what they wanted to focus on ' and trees came out as a central theme.

There is also a stream near the school. The combined result is that the children are growing seedlings to restore the natural vegetation and monitoring the water quality of the stream.

'The whole community is now involved in our project and the children just love being at the stream. It's really exciting,' she says.

Trees for Canterbury

Steve Bush, who leads Trees for Canterbury, is delighted his organisation has received national recognition for its environmental efforts.

Trees for Canterbury is a not for profit organisation that volunteers its help across the region and has three main aims.

It offers employment, particularly to people who have been unemployed for a long time. It offers environmental education, either by having staff visit schools or have school children come to its site. Plus it works with different community groups and organisations to regenerate flora.

ENDS

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