New Year list honours locals


From left, the late Russell Kemp, for services to Maori. Vern Dark, for services to business and education. Isobel Greenwood, for services to the community.

Services to Maori, education and the community earned three Mahurangi residents awards in this year’s New Year’s Honours list.

Russell Kemp, of Kaiwaka, was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit; Vern Dark, of Kaiwaka, was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit; and Isobel Greenwood, of Tomarata, received the Queen Service Medal.

The late Russell Kemp, for services to Maori

Mr Kemp lodged the Wai 229 Treaty claim with the Waitangi Tribunal for Te Uri o Hau in 1991 and was a negotiator for Te Uri o Hau, leading them in the signing of a Deed of Settlement with the Crown in 2000.

He was the chair of the Te Uri o Hau Settlement Trust, leading their post-settlement governance entity.  Under his leadership, the Te Uri of Hau Settlement Trust signed a relationship agreement with the Auckland Council and the Rodney Local Board in 2017.

He was a Board member from 1995 to 2004 and Chair from 2015 of Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Whātua. He played a key role in securing Crown recognition of the Rūnanga’s mandate to negotiate a settlement of Ngāti Whātua iwi-wide Treaty claims in 2008 and the Kaipara Harbour claim.

Sadly, Mr Kemp passed away on January 10. His funeral was held at the Otamatea Marae on January 13.

Vern Dark, for services to business and education

Former NorthTec Council chair Vern Dark has contributed his experience to many commercial enterprises in the Northland region.

He has held senior public service positions in the Ministries of Forestry and Energy, and has more than 20 years experience in senior roles for leading New Zealand companies, including Fletcher Challenge Petrochemicals, the Northland Dairy Co-operative and the Northland Port Corporation. He is currently a board member of several commercial enterprises. 

While at NorthTec, he worked to ensure that tertiary education was available across Northland and was instrumental in maintaining the institution’s profitability through a period of funding cuts. When he joined NorthTec, it carried an $8 million debt in the form of a Crown Loan commitment, but under his leadership it now holds reserves of about $20 million and he is overseeing the start of a Raumanga Campus rebuilding project, worth $10 million. NorthTec courses are now delivered at 58 sites in the north.

Isobel Greenwood, for services to the community

Mrs Greenwood has supported the people of Tomarata and surrounding districts in a multitude of volunteer roles for the past 50 years. Her roles include environmental initiatives such as work with the Tomarata Lake Restoration Committee and she led an initiative to have the names of World War II soldiers added to the local war memorial.

She was a founding committee member for the local playgroup, which is still operating more than 40 years later, and the local chapter of the Brownies movement. She has contributed many years of fundraising for Plunket and has been a Citizens Advice Bureau volunteer. She has been an active member of Rural Women New Zealand for more than 40 years and a committee member of the Tomarata Tennis Club.

She has held many roles at the Tomarata Primary School. Mrs Greenwood has also volunteered her time to restore and upgrade the local community hall and church.


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