Paul Harris Community Awards

The following are members of the local community that the Rotary Club of Taradale has recognised for their work and achievements in helping and representing the general Hawke's Bay area. For them it is a respected and prestigious honour.


Hazel Dawson QSM*

At the time of the presentation, Hazel had been involved in public service for about 50 years. She had a burning desire to help women and she had a long association with the WDFF (Women's Division of the Federated Farmers). During her presidency, 14 new branches were opened. She was a prime mover in the founding of Taradale Senior Citizens Association and drove the fundraising which raised $72,000 and ensured the Friendship Centre opened debt free. Other initiatives of hers were the Taradale Care and Craft Centre (1982) and the Taradale Sunset Club (1985). She gave outstanding service to the Plunket Society, Girl Guides, National Council of Women, Red Cross and St John's. Hazel held a Napier Civic Award and QSM.


Ray Neill*

Ray has been a social worker with the Presbyterian Church for most of his working life. He was inducted as a Clerk of Session in 1978 and spent most of his spare time offering help and advice to the elderly people of the district. Ray was a member of the Taradale Rotary Club, holding the post of Secretary. He has worked for Atawhai, being a member of the East Coast Support Board, regular visitor, and driver taking inmates on their many trips out. He was a regular weekly visitor to the Napier Hospital and trustee of the Arthur Miller estate and through this has links to the Taradale High School. Ray was a member of the Taradale Rotary Club, holding the post of Secretary, but when he changed his job which no longer matched his classification, he resigned.


Gillian Davies

Gillian was presented with a Paul Harris Medal on the 29th May 2008. She was introduced Graham Duncan and the Award was presented by A.D.G. Carol Charman on behalf of the Trustees of Rotary Foundation. Gillian has taught Speech and Drama for many years to many Napier children. , but she is best known as a Director of the Napier Operatic Society, with a great number of highly successful shows to her credit, including “Les Miserables”, "Chicago", "Beauty & the Beast" and "Cats". She was at the forefront in establishing Napier Operatic Society's popular Tabard Theatre and been a tutor at EIT's Performing Arts courses.
However it was the production of “Bugsy Malone” for which she is identified by our Club members. This show raised over $57,000 for Child Cancer HB and the legacy continues. Her involvement epitomises her love of being involved with children.
In her acceptance speech Gillian was very moved to be made a Paul Harris Fellow. She acknowledged the importance of theatre in educating and informing and thereby changing people’s lives.


Caroline Meyer and Georgina Earl (nee Evers-Swindell)

Caroline and Georgina were awarded Paul Harris Medals at the Club's 50th Jubilee Dinner in recognition of their outstanding success in International rowing. Their record is well known a double Olympic Gold medallists in 2004 and 2008, but they were also 3 times World Champions in their double sculls specialty. There success on the water has been prolific and in recognition they have been Halberg Award winners 3 times, and in 2005 the were awarded the New Zealand Order of Merit.
In 2004 they graciously accepted the invitation to be celebrity guests at a fund raising dinner and as a result of their involvement, the Oliver Smales Memorial Trust Fund was established by the Club, with $100,000 being invested. The work of the Trust, training nurses working in paediatrics, is strongly supported by the sisters who were friends of Oliver Smales. Two Club members continue to serve on the Trust Board.


Jane Sheldrake

She has been coaching gymnastics for 40 years, her involvement has been at all levels, displaying a total commitment to the sport. She has applied this commitment to gymnasts, coach education, judging, judge education, her club, her association and the national body.
Some of the things she is involved in include –
Coaching from club level to Junior Elite, H B Poverty Bay Junior and Senior Coach and central Region Coach Levels 7 -9 and in 1984 Level 10 Coach to Hawaii, USA. She has been a National Gym School Lecturer and NZ Gymnastics Coach Education Course Presenter as well as HB Poverty Bay Coaches Course Presenter.
She has had many years as a Senior National Judge and holds a FIG Brevet – International Level. She is head Judge at Junior events and also Head Judge at local club ribbon meets. She has conducted National and Provincial Judges courses.
She has been a board member on the NZ Gymnastic Association, NZ Women’s Technical Director and Member, Gymsports NZ CentralRegional Board 2007 and 2008. She is a Life Member of the HB Poverty Bay Gymnastic Association, was President of that Association for two years and an executive member forthree years. She has also been the Technical Officer for the HB Poverty Bay Gymnastics Association for over 9 years and currently holds this position.
Her overseas experience includes 1984 – Coach Aloha Fest, 1987/88/93 Coach Australian Levels, 1987 Manager/Coach Aloha Fest, 1989 Manager World Championships Germany and 1992 Judge Sanyo Cup. In 2000 she was awarded New Zealand Gymnastics Meritorious Award and has been the Senior Coach for the Omni Gymnastics Centre since 1982 and basically runs the club on a day to day basis.
Jane's Paul Harris was a District Award presented by Carol Charman.


David and Gary Conroy

Born and raised in Napier both brothers, Gary and David, attended St John’s College in Hastings.
Gary, after leaving school, moved to Wellington to work for Shell Oil for a few years.
David always wanted to be a truck driver. So he left school as soon as he could, into a truck driving job, with the dream of one day owning his own truck. This goal was realised, at the age of 21, when a local Napier furniture removal business came up for sale. So in 1972 Conroy Removals was established.
A year later, another removal company in Hastings became available, which Gary purchased, and they went into business together.
The industry was highly regulated in those days to protect the government owned railways. In spite of this, opportunities came along, and over the years they grew the business to become one of New Zealand’s leading removal companies. Their first branch office was opened in Auckland, followed by Wellington, Christchurch and Tauranga. 15 years ago the company entered the Australian market, with a branch in Brisbane, later expanding to other major centres.
Conroy’s have now been in business for 42 years, employing over 250 staff. Although the business is truly Australasian, they still have their roots firmly planted in Hawkes Bay with the Head Office remaining in Napier.
David and his wife Marie have been married almost 40 years. They have 4 children and 4 grandchildren.
Gary and his wife Pauline have been married 45 years. They have 6 children, 20 grandchildren and 2 great grandchildren.
For decades David and Gary have supported the Rotary Club of Taradale with its various projects and fund raising events. If we required cartage, storage, containers, or freighting advice for any of our projects, David and Gary have provided this, often at no cost to the club. They have also been generous sponsors to many of our events.
Whenever called upon, they are always willing and eager to assist. Their generosity to this club has been immense.
Conroy’s contribution and support to the local community is a lot larger than just Taradale Rotary.

They have been major sponsors of:
  • Art Deco Trust
  • Sacred Heart College Annual Scholarship
  • Hawkes Bay Rugby Union
  • Napier City Rovers
  • Napier Old Boys Marist Rugby Football Club
  • National Art Exhibition (Rotary Greenmeadows)
  • Lowe Corporation Rescue Helicopter
They have also assisted with donations to numerous National charities and groups.
But it is their contribution to this club which we are recognising tonight.
A few examples of the events and projects which they have helped us with.
  • Gourmet Experience - was a major fundraiser for three years. A full Fisher & Paykel kitchen was required for the celebrity chefs to use. Conroy’s transported the entire kitchen down from Auckland and return FOC.
  • Celebrity Gala Dinners and Auction - Dinner where celebrities such as Steve Williams and the Evers-Swindell sisters were guest speakers. Gary and David were table sponsors for these.
  • Annual Street Auctions – This fundraiser went for 33 years. No one can remember just when David and Gary began their support. A fleet of trucks and men crammed all the goods on board from Tremain’s shed and distributed them down the main street.
  • PNG Tsunami – Transportation and shipping of 37 cartons of goods to Port Moresby then onto the village of Aitape on the northern coast.
  • Citrus to Chatham Islands – shipping citrus to the Chatham’s and fish back, which was distributed to rest homes / elderly care centres, without cost.
  • Computers for Tonga Project - Conroy’s shipped a large consignment of computers to the Tonga Institute of Education.
  • Shelter Box – transportation of the old shelter box to Hamilton and new box to Napier (FOC).
  • Bugsy Malone Production – cartage to Napier for various items required for the production as well as a container for storage of the props.
  • Shakespeare in the Park – Transportation and use of a large container for storage, at no cost. Provided cartage, from Wellington and back, for other items used in the show.

It is probably our latest project, the ‘Solomon Island Books for Schools’ which best exemplifies their help and generosity.

  • Sorting / storage facilities,
  • Boxes and packaging materials,
  • Pallets for transportation,
  • Shipping advice and negotiated discounted rate,
  • Documentation,
  • Cartage to Auckland (FOC)


Diane Howell

Diane has lived all her life in Napier, attending Colenso High School where she won the 6th Form Secretarial Award, setting the scene for her skills in office management.
Diane has a passion for the arts. She was a member of the Napier Operatic for many years. She was part of Camelot, My Fair Lady and It’s Entertainment to name a few. Beyond the stage, she was extremely successful, winning numerous competitions and awards either as an individual or in pairs, mastering a number of disciplines from ballet, tap dancing, singing and speech and drama. Later with her children she devoted her energy to supporting them at gym meets, soccer matches, dance recitals and any other activity they got involved in.
Her involvement in Rotary started soon after leaving school and in the early 1970’s was a member of the Napier Rotaract Club. She was a RYLA scholar sponsored by Taradale Rotary in 1974, and through Rotaract, held many Director positions and helped organise the District Rotaract Conference in Napier.
It was through Rotary that she met Richard in 1974. They married in 1977 and together with Richard formed Richard Howell Motors with Diane taking a leading role as a working Director.
Diane has been involved in many community-based organizations. She worked on Parent Centre and assisted the Iona College Garden Festival raise over $100,000. With Richard, she supported her daughter Natasha as an international gymnast, and together they organised fund-raising of thousands of dollars to build a national standard gymnasium at Onekawa.
She assisted Richard’s first presidency in 2009, helping to organise the Club’s very successful 50th Anniversary celebration.
When Richard, at the beginning of 2016 took over from President Paul Bee mid-term, followed by a second term as President, Diane gave him full support. She coordinated all his speeches, agendas, thank-you occasions, and with Richard, she has been instrumental in re-writing the president’s manual. She first prepared this in 2009 but has updated it so a new manual is now available for the incoming President and successive Presidents.
Diane has also been part of the volunteers for two recent Rotary Conferences, assisting Richard, who was on the organising Committees.
Rotary Student Exchange has been a big part of their Rotary lives as Diane makes up a team with Richard as counselors for numerous incoming exchange students over many years.
With Richard, her commitment to the ideals of Rotary stretch back over 45 years.
Richard and Diane have two children, Blair and Natasha. and outside of Rotary they continue with their passion for travel.