Southerners awarded Queen's Service Medal



For services to the community

For Lyn Farry, community service started as a way to stay connected with her family.

Now with over 30 years of experience she has been recognised for her services to the community with a Queen’s Service Medal, an honour she called "humbling."

"You don’t do these things for your own personal accolades."

The Dunedin woman first began working with sport and education as a way to be involved in the lives of her large family.

"I felt I was doing something for the younger ones."

Mrs Farry served as chairwoman of the Andersons Bay Kindergarten in 1978 and became inaugural chairwoman of the board of trustees of St Bernadette’s Catholic Primary School in 1989.

Following the amalgamation of Moreau and St Paul’s College, she became a member of the organising committee of the newly formed Kavanagh College.

She was responsible for the design of the school uniform. The school recently rebranded to Trinity Catholic College, but retains the same uniform.

Mrs Farry was heavily involved in sport and acted as a co-ordinator, coach, administrator, selector of netball and server as selector of Otago age group and under 19 netball teams.

She also worked hard to progress women’s rights as club president of the Zonta Club of Metropolitan Dunedin for nine years starting in 1999.

She has also chaired several committees within the branch.

She was the driver of the Zonta Extraordinary Fashion event, which raised more than $200,000 during her time as chair.

A member of the club since 1997, she was named a National Woman of Prominence from the organisation in 2016.

She chaired and ran the launch of Sophie’s Legacy, a 2011 book detailing the life and murder of Sophie Elliott, written by Lesley Elliott and Bill O’Brien.

Following this, she played a vital part in co-ordinating funding for the Sophie Elliott Foundations’s Loves Me Not programme in schools which taught how to recognise an avoid abusive relationships.

She was asked to co-ordinate the fundraising and reporting of the programme on behalf of Zonta’s New Zealand clubs, which she did from 2014 to 2018.

Mrs Farry has been an advisory board member of Dunedin School of Art Foundation since 2011.



For services to Search and Rescue

Maurice Cowie played a key role in revitalising the Omarama Search and Rescue (SAR).

He has been an official member since 1998 but had been doing it "for quite some time" before that, he said.

The award came as "a bit of surprise really".

"It’s very humbling. It’s a team effort. All the things I’m involved in in town, it’s all part of a team."

He almost missed out on the award by not receiving the email.

"They sent an email, but I didn’t get it.

"They sent me another one to say ‘could you please reply to our email within four days’, that was the cut-off. I emailed them back and said ‘what’s the story?"’

In Omarama SAR, Mr Cowie has worn many different hats including field member, team leader and incident management team member.

He is the first point of contact for police in the event of a search and rescue operation due to his extensive knowledge.

Mr Cowie was recognised as part of the Omarama SAR group that received the LandSAR Supreme Award in 2012 for a significant operation in Ahuriri Valley that found the body of a missing tramper after 14 days.

"I was probably the lucky one, or the unlucky one to get [to] the creek they actually found him in. It’s a good feeling to give closure to a family."

He volunteers so much of his time because everybody needs help sometimes.

"Sooner or later, I’m probably going to have to call for some help. I’m a firm believer in paying forward."

He has also volunteered his time to assist in searches in other regions such as Owaka, Lawrence and Dunedin.

Mr Cowie is a member of the local work group that stands in for a Civil Defence group in Omarama in the case of a natural disaster as well as being in the fire brigade for 50 years.



For services to Pacific health

Hana Halalele became the first Pasifika councillor for the Waitaki District Council in 2019 and is also manager for Oamaru Pacific Island Community Group (OPICG).

They provide support to the Pasifika and wider Waitaki community.

She sees the Queen’s Service Medal as recognition for the entire OPICG team, not just her.

"It’s quite overwhelming. I’m really, really humbled to be able to receive this on behalf of the team and the community really."

The group evolved from the Pasifika Women’s Oamaru Branch which was established in the 1980s.

Her mother and aunty are two of the few remaining founding members of the group and she wants to honour their contributions to the community through her work, she said.

It is important to her that the needs of the Pasifika community are seen.

"Especially in rural and provincial areas, like ours, we really have to advocate hard to make sure that we’re visible and that we’re in a space that can provide support when most needed."

OPICG became very active throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, with Ms Halalele at the forefront of this.

The group created a frontline team to share information and guidelines across the community.

They provided a Covid-19 welfare response that included food packages and vouchers, health navigation support and advocating for digital devices during lockdown and isolation periods.

Ms Halalele led the OPICG team to create their own community outreach vaccination workforce, deliver drive-through testing stations and vaccination clinics across the Waitaki region.



For services to migrant communities

Dunedin’s Afife Harris was working for the greater good well before the city promised to be a safe haven for refugees from war-ravaged Syria.

However, her work resettling people in Dunedin has earned the 70-year-old a Queen’s Service Medal.

Mrs Harris was pleasantly surprised to learn of her recognition.

Her husband William Harris, and their three sons Chris, Adam and Hadi, were all humbled and proud.

Mrs Harris used her experience of migrating to New Zealand from Lebanon to help others navigate the resettling process, particularly those from the Syrian community.

She also helped migrants find employment and accompanied people to interviews to offer support; she has acted as an interpreter at medical appointments and driving lessons.

She has highlighted the importance of knowing English and has introduced and accompanied many migrants to English language providers.

She is a former president of the Dunedin Multi-Ethnic Council and created the Chai and Chat programme to help women from different cultures come together in a safe space to meet New Zealand women over a cup of tea.

She organised car boot sales to help pay for driving lessons for refugee women.

She served as a committee member of the Cedars of Lebanon Club for more than a decade.

Mrs Harris set up a migrant market to help new arrivals sell their crafts and share food, bringing together people from all cultures to help break down barriers within the community.

She has hosted Lebanese cooking classes and catering to help with fundraising efforts for schools and organisations.

Mrs Harris was the 2019 recipient of the ASB Good as Gold award for her contribution to the Dunedin community.



For services to rugby and education

Rugby has long been a passion for Richard Higham, who has been a member of the Otago University Rugby Football Club (OURFC) since 1973.

When the former Oxford University student arrived to join the University of Otago faculty, he was "thrilled to find another OURFC".

The 85-year-old has been doing his best for the club ever since, including coaching and time as club captain, vice-president and president.

A member and secretary of the OURFC Rugby Foundation Trust since 2009, he is still highly active.

The support of a fantastic family had kept him going over the decades, he said.

He was also "extraordinarily lucky" with his health, and felt much the same as he had done 50 years ago.

Since 2016 he had been publishing the OURFC Blooz Nooz e-newsletter covering history and current events, with 245 editions to date.

He was integral in fundraising for new clubrooms, and helped organise 125th anniversary celebrations in 2009.

He had been on the management committee of the OURFC Light Blues Association for alumni since 1986, and the executive of the University of the Third Age (U3A) Dunedin, volunteering since 2000.

Mr Higham had also been active with the Dunedin Symphony Orchestra Friends, chairing the group from 2011 to 2019 and organising collaborations with other Dunedin arts organisations, presentations and successful fundraising.

It was "absolutely fantastic" to receive the award, which he felt was deserved by all the groups supporting the OURFC.

"It’s an honour to belong to such an incredible organisation that has been going so long and so well at the University of Otago University Rugby Football Club."