Learn about all the finalists in the TECT Community Awards. 

The People's Choice Award is now closed and we'll announce the winner at the awards night on Thursday 17th March. All winners will also be announced online after the event.

Click on a finalist below to learn more about their incredible work:

Event Excellence Award

A Night Before Christmas

A Night Before Christmas is a free-entry event that has been spreading joy to our city for over 20 years. With quality entertainment, community spirit, and plenty of Christmas nostalgia, people of all ages and walks of life come together to share in the festive fun. This community-focused event sees hundreds of local businesses, volunteers, and performers band together to make it happen, with fundraising buckets going round to support incredible community initiatives. 

Escape! Festival

 The little festival with big ideas, Escape! is a local literary event that provides the chance for our community to escape into a good book, a profound discussion, some learning, and some light-hearted fun too, with speakers and performers. With 2020 cancelling many events, including the original Escape!, organisers ensured the arts were put back into the heart of the city, and the community could stay connected, running a slimmer version of the event.

Groundswell Festival of Innovation

Groundswell is Tauranga's very own 'Festival of Innovation’, bringing together everything from arts and culture to sports, business, and technology. The event drives Tauranga’s reputation as a centre of innovation on a local, national and international scale. During lockdown, organisers turned the event into a digital festival and collaborated with Techweek 2020. From an entrepreneur who pivoted her business within 48 hours, to a woman breaking multiple world records through running, speakers shared their innovative insights and ground-breaking stories through a series of Masterclasses and online events.

Leisure Marching North Island Display Day

Leisure marching is non-competitive, it is all about fun, fitness and friendship. The 2020 Leisure Marching North Island Display Day was an event like no other. Hosted in Tauranga during the Covid-19 restrictions it saw over 300 mostly mature marchers participate from throughout the North Island. While Covid-19 restrictions posed many challenges, careful management saw even the Auckland teams participate in an event that fully complied with the regulations at the time. With spectators not permissible, the organisers were innovative in arranging livestreaming of the event so the marching fraternity all over the country and Australia could watch it live.

Tauranga’s Christmas in the Park

Tauranga's Christmas in the Park is a long-running, annual event that brings our community together before Christmas to enjoy a full day of entertainment – encouraging community spirit and giving back. With a gold coin entry, the event supports local charities and community groups who are working with families and children, raising over $50,000 in the past few years alone. Featuring live music, performances, arts, craft and artisan food and drink, nothing beats a day filled with fun, a visit from Santa and a big focus on community.

Sustainable Future Award

Environmental Education for Resource Sustainability Trust (EERST)

EERST is a community based, not-for-profit organisation, that believes through education and action, communities can become more environmentally aware and live a more sustainable life.  The trust runs the Paper4trees programme, with 185 schools and preschools in Tauranga and Western Bay of Plenty participating.  In the last 12 months, these schools diverted 4759m³ of paper and cardboard from landfill and planted 2,103 plants in the community.  EERST has provided water tanks to 18 local schools and preschools through their Water4schools programme, saving 3,196m³ of mains water supply in the last 12 months.  The trust is also the Tauranga branch of Keep New Zealand Beautiful, supporting community groups planting native plants and conducting litter clean ups.

Oropi School – Garden to Table

Oropi School was the first school in the Bay of Plenty to commence the Garden to Table programme. Their Kokako Garden has been set up to be self-sufficient with an abundant supply of produce, including fruit from the fruit orchard, honey from the beehive, and eggs from the chickens. A centrally located kitchen allows children to take the lead, working as a team to sow, harvest, care for, and produce amazing healthy and wholesome recipes. With the help of many volunteers, and the school’s garden and kitchen development over the years, children are inspired and motivated to enjoy healthy, unprocessed food.

PiPS - People, Plants, Schools

PiPs is a garden in schools programme that gives children in the catchment area of Mount Maunganui/Papamoa continuous hands-on learning about their food system and their local environment throughout their school journey.  Pips philosophy is " learning, gardening and growing together" and centred around kaitiakitanga.  Their garden facilitators run the garden school programmes, manage parent volunteers, organise community seedling sales, community feasts, working bees and workshops across five schools. They aim to educate the future generations to create a stronger, healthier environment and teach tamariki about growing and eating their own kai.

Tauranga Men’s Shed

The Tauranga Men’s Shed brings men together to share their skills, have a laugh, and work on practical tasks supporting the community. Modelling an ethos of waste minimization, the Tauranga Men’s Shed reuses and recycles offcut wood and materials, repairs items that would otherwise be destined for landfill, and every item that they produce is built to last.  They have worked with Predator Free Bay of Plenty for the past three years, helping build and supply the Tauranga community with rat trapping tunnels.   

Te Puna Quarry Park Society

Te Puna Quarry Park is a 32-hectare public park providing an attractive natural environment where people of all ages come to unwind, exercise and experience nature.  Transformed from a disused quarry into a world-class park, it is managed and maintained by volunteers. They aim to let nature thrive, and let desirable plants and abundant bird life prevail over weeds and pests.  Sustainable practices include composting, mulching, weeding, pest control, as well as breeding butterflies, nurturing bees and farming worms. Volunteers help with educational projects, and sell plant seeds and cuttings to the public.  The western half of Quarry Park is enriched with sculptures and interesting features, while the eastern half is a rugged native forest with a waterfall and signposted tracks. The park is open every day during day-light hours. Admission is free, and donations are welcome.

Diversity and Inclusion Award

Gurdwara Sikh Sangat Tauranga

Gurdwara Sikh Sangat Tauranga manages the Sikh Gurdwara based at 43 Burrows Street. A gurdwara is a place of community and worship for Sikhs, with people from all faiths welcomed. Gurdwara Sikh Sangat Tauranga, along with other Sikh community groups, provided significant food support to the Tauranga community during the Covid-19 lockdown. The trust alone providing over 1000kg in food donations to local food support organisations. They organise the annual Tauranga Turban Day, aiming to raise public awareness around why Sikhs wear turbans, and the religion and culture of Sikhism. They also organise the annual Tauranga Sikh Parade – a key cultural event in the city that sees over 2000 attendees from across the district.

Mockingbird Charitable Trust

Mockingbird provides a safe and supportive social environment for neurodiverse children, youth and their families. With outings and activities like baking, art, and drama, and a space that keeps sensory requirements in mind, children and youth can be themselves. The space also allows parents the same, offering them the chance to walk the same journey with others, and providing a break from the stress of life outside of Mockingbird.  While families often come from a place where they have felt misunderstood, judged, and isolated, Mockingbird provides a safe and nurturing environment where they feel a sense of belonging, working alongside a behaviour consultant, who offers advice and support. Led by their own experience, the Mockingbird board offers practical guidance on obtaining a diagnosis and individualised funding support.


Momenta is committed to helping shape our community so all people belong, are valued, and thrive. They work with individuals who have a lived experience of disability or health conditions, helping them plan and work towards their goals. Momenta provide this through the delivery of two flagship programmes Forward, Together and Springboard. Forward, Together is a bespoke coaching and mentoring programme, working in the areas of health and wellbeing, meaningful work and growth and learning.  Momenta work alongside their clients, helping them to identify and then go on to achieve their aspirations. The Springboard programme helps prepare students to take the leap from school to adult life, connecting them to opportunities for training, work, or further education. 

Nepalese Association in Bay of Plenty

Nepalese Association in Bay of Plenty is a non-profit organisation, run by volunteers, who represent the Nepali community in the Bay of Plenty. They work to preserve and develop Nepalese language, culture, and traditions within the community by organising cultural events and celebrations. During the Covid-19 lockdown, they supported Nepali newcomers and international students, delivering over 200 grocery packs to those in need across the Bay of Plenty.  They also set up their own Nepali language help-line for anyone in the community who needed support or information, and assisted the Office of Ethnic Communities to produce Covid-19 support videos in Nepali – supporting other communities around New Zealand to access the government information in their own language.  

Sailability Tauranga Charitable Trust

Sailability Tauranga Charitable Trust provides anyone with a disability the opportunity to sail safely, to experience adventure and freedom, to build mobility, self-confidence and pride through achievement. With the help of Sailability Tauranga, 100 sailors of all ages who are living with a disability have sailed in the past twelve months.  Sailability Tauranga also held special sailing days last year, with five schools bringing 56 teenagers at risk to experience the challenge and enjoyment of sailing.  Some of these students are now sailing regularly. Sailors are also given the opportunity to become volunteers and over the past year, six became regular volunteers on both sailing days and on committees.  

Rising Star Award

Bay of Plenty Youth Development Trust

Bay of Plenty Youth Development Trust was established in 2017. The Trust works with at-risk youth to help them believe in themselves and achieve dreams they never thought possible. Through their Tauranga Boxing Academy boxing and mentoring programme, young people get physically and mentally fit, learn discipline through access to positive role models, and focus on the ongoing re-iteration of core positive values. The Trust also runs the IBA programme (Imagine, Believe, Achieve/Moemoea, Kimihia, Taea) for youth aged 15-24 years who are not in education, training or employment, to assist them in developing a vision and plan for their future and get them on a successful pathway toward sustained work.


Established in 2017, COLAB is a grassroots collaboration of community organisations from the Te Puke region working together to ensure the Te Puke community is thriving, connected and supported. Since its establishment, COLAB has grown into a significant local community led collective with a focus on youth development, new initiatives, housing, community connection and cohesion initiatives. Over the past 12 months they have organised a community expo, Te Tiriti o Waitangi training, a housing research project, a Housing Hui and supported local events. 

True Colours - Honouring the Mother

True Colours – Honouring the Mother was established in 2018, and provides support and connection which can empower mothers who are suffering from a range of mental health challenges including post-natal depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder. The service provides a relaxed, safe, non-judgemental space for wāhine to share their vulnerability and experiences of motherhood. The service was created as a proactive change to address the stigma, whakamā (shame) and isolation which mothers encounter when presenting with a mental health issue. The service is funded, providing monthly in-person and online peer support groups.

Venture Centre

Venture Centre is a charitable organisation dedicated to entrepreneurship support, offering mentoring, programmes, events and networking. These activities provide individuals and community groups the opportunity to learn and activate key entrepreneurial skills, including how to explore, test, measure, iterate and validate ideas. Venture Centre exists to help aspiring entrepreneurs apply those skills to solve the problems that matter to them, in turn benefitting the community and wider region. Venture Centre has supported 2,800 entrepreneurs to date, with over half of these putting purpose before profit with social and environmental impact in mind.

Your Garden: Children's Therapy Garden

Your Garden: Children's Therapy Garden takes the learning out of the classroom, bringing it to a new, exciting learning environment based on horticultural therapy and sensory stimulation. Working with neurodiverse primary level students who don’t get any funding support in school, the therapy garden aims to provide new and meaningful experiences – reducing anxiety, promoting physical and mental wellbeing, and helping develop resilient and more active learners back in the classroom. Located at The Historic Village, the community garden project sees the children grow and harvest produce, which is then donated to Good Neighbour.

Youth Spirit Award

Baylee Dyer

As a student at Otumoetai College, Baylee set up a not-for-profit ball gown rental service providing low-cost access to dresses for students struggling to afford their own. Baylee wanted to ensure every student had the opportunity to enjoy their school ball – an important and memorable part of the Year 13 experience. To date Baylee has built up a collection of 87 gowns, some donated and some which she has purchased with her own money.  She has also promoted the scheme to other colleges in Tauranga with the help of the students leaders at those schools.  Baylee is driven by the desire to help other people and hopes that the service can grow and continue for many years to come. 

Courtney Bignell

Courtney is passionate about making the world a better place, and does so through a range of initiatives and events she has organised, and volunteer work. She was a regular helper at a local community meal provider for the homeless, and organised the 1st birthday party of Tauranga's homeless women's shelter Awhina House. In the past she has organised a candlelit vigil for Grace Millane, and a quiz night fundraiser for victims of the Australian bushfires. During the Covid-19 lockdown period, she set up a successful Facebook group for people in Tauranga having to self-isolate. The group, with over 2000 members, provided much-need community connection. 

Ethan Milsom

Eighteen-year-old Ethan Milsom is a volunteer with Youth Encounter – a charity that provides activity based programmes to help young people reach their full potential. He started as a camper back in 2015 and has since grown to become a valuable leader and contributor to Youth Encounter. He works alongside young people from many different backgrounds, volunteering into all programmes covering roles such as mentor, instructor, equipment and activity supervision and contributing to the Safety compliance requirements of Youth Encounter.  As well as the many hours Ethan puts into volunteering at Youth Encounter, he is also an active patrol captain with the Pukehina Surf Lifesaving Club serving as a volunteer throughout the summer months, as well as helping out as a youth group leader at TePuke Baptist Church.

Frances Mole

While hospice is not a common place for a 22-year-old to spend their free time, Frances does so to give back to her community. She gives two half days a week to the Waipuna Hospice Marketing and Fundraising department, and has been involved in organising their Remembrance Tree Appeal and Superhero Walk/Run 2021 fundraiser. With Waipuna Hospice needing to raise $4.25 million last year, having an extra hand in their fundraising team has been extremely helpful for the charity.  Frances has had a connection with Waipuna Hospice from a young age, volunteering alongside her mother at fundraising appeals and events over the past 10 years.

Shuari Naidoo

At just 18 years old, Shuari has already made a big impact in our community. She volunteered for The Period Place, a charity that works to achieve period equity, and is founder of Papamoa Period Chapter. At Papamoa College she was part of the organising committees to raise funds for the 40 Hour Famine, Daffodil Day and Breast Cancer Foundation, and was a Big Sister in the college’s Big Brothers, Big Sisters Club. She prepared and sent cards to essential workers over the Covid-19 lockdown, and volunteered serving and making decorations for Kai Aroha’s reopening after the lockdown. Shuari was involved in The Rise for Lives Movement to fight the humanitarian crisis in Yemen, and is also CEO of Moraka Menstrual Cups whose mission is to end period poverty.

Volunteer of the Year Award

Barry Pethybridge

Barry has been involved with Aongatete Forest Project since 2009. His farming background and experience with possums added valuable knowledge to the team and since 2013 the area under control increased from 180h to 500h. Barry pioneered the use of game cameras in Aongatete, proving useful tools for observing animals behaviours. He has hosted countless schools and other visiting parties, teaching visitors about the need to treat the pest animals Aongatete target with respect, and to care for and nurture the environment. More recently he has built and installed dozens of nesting boxes for the rifleman (titipounamu) who have reappeared at Aongatete in recent years. Barry's ongoing dedication to and passion for the bush and its occupants has been a source of inspiration to volunteers and members of the public.  

Dulcie Artus

Dulcie Artus joined the team of Te Puna Quarry Park volunteers in the very early years of its development, and some months later became the secretary. She was asked to be Treasurer soon after until 2011, and kept the secretary role for 20 years until she turned 80. She registered members, friends and volunteers, and was instrumental in maintaining contacts with local iwi, artists, funding agencies, suppliers, garden clubs, and the general public. Over the years, she coordinated behind the scenes a lot of the work that happened in the voluntary organisation, including promotion, fundraising, maps, photos, and festivals. Dulcie initiated and realised many projects, including creating the seating and lighting in the amphitheatre, building The Gallery, and working with the artists and craftsmen who created the sculptures and structures that make Te Puna Quarry Park so special today.

Francis Orr

Francis approached Te Puna Quarry Park some years ago offering to take on a role in pest control. There was great need for his help, with possums and rats rampant in the Quarry, feeding themselves on bird eggs, chicks and plants. Francis has put in countless hours, tirelessly climbing the steep slopes to carry out regular checks of the pest control stations in all corners of the 32 ha Quarry Park. While pest control is physical and not for the fainthearted, the reward is that bird life is now far richer and more diverse than it was ever before - bird predators are now difficult to find. He is also a volunteer with Predator Free Bay of Plenty and his local Street pest control project.

Mike Christian

Mike is a valued and committed volunteer with Youth Encounter – helping out with the transporting of bikes and riders, leadership of small groups, emergency care, riding dirt bikes and hanging out with the youth. Mike is also an integral part of an action group currently looking to acquire property to develop an activity base for Youth Encounter to operate from. The charity provides activity-based programmes like dirt bike riding, surfing, and wake boarding, to help young people reach their full potential. Being able to adapt is integral to successful connections with the youth.  During lockdown Mike joined a volunteer kiwifruit picking gang which helped raise funds for Youth Encounter during a time when other normal avenues of income were closed to them.  

Sibylle Steppat

Sibylle is a dedicated volunteer and community member in Merivale. For the past few years Sibylle has been the Chair of the residents group running community hui and residents meetings, and has been a Board member of the Merivale Community Centre. She has also supported the Merivale Community Garden, the Community Kai dinner initiative, and community events like the Christmas Festival and Matariki. She runs weekly walking groups, coffee groups and fitness classes for residents, and started a Merivale photo competition to celebrate the beauty of Merivale through photography. Sibylle is an integral member of the community, connecting and bringing people together. 

Apply for funding

Our funding works to support the people, places and projects making a difference in our community. We have a number of different funding schemes to assist community organisations with their initiatives.

At the heart of our community

TECT is a nationally recognised trust leading the way in community funding and support. We aim to make a significant impact, shaping the quality of life and wellbeing of those living in the Western Bay of Plenty now and for generations to come.


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