New Year’s Honour for Alison Henry

06 Jan 2022

Cooks Beach resident, Alison Henry, was appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year’s Honours List released on Friday last week. She received the award for more than 40 years of voluntary service to conservation and the community.

Alison has been involved in habitat restoration and the replanting of native species on Mototapu Island as a trustee of the Motutapu Restoration Trust before moving to Mercury Bay with her husband, Alan. She was also involved in the Project Crimson Trust and Te Araroa, developing the Long Pathway from Cape Reinga to Bluff.

Since she started calling Cooks Beach home in 2002, Alison was actively involved in the rebuilding of the Ferry Landing library and the restoration of the historic Ferry Landing stone wharf. She served on the Mercury Bay Community Board from 2004 to 2013, the last six years as chair. From 2013 to 2017, she was a member of the Sea Change - Tai Timu Tai Pari Stakeholder Working Group that developed a marine spatial plan focused on the restoration of the Hauraki Gulf. She was a trustee of the Mercury Bay Art Escape from 2010 to 2020.

Alison is at the moment chair of the Mercury Bay Community Fund, an organisation administering pensioner housing units in Whitianga, and Kauri 2000. She is also an active member of the Cooks Beachcare Group, replanting and weeding sand dunes, and is spending many hours protecting dotterels during nesting season.

Reflecting on her New Year’s Honour, Alison said she had no idea who nominated her, but they were very kind. “You don’t get involved in the things you’re passionate about to receive recognition,” she said. “You become involved because you want to make a difference.”

A highlight of the past 40 years was Alison’s involvement in the Mercury Bay Community Board. “The Mercury Bay area, from Whangapoua to Hot Water Beach, is made up of many communities,” she said. “Each of them is different. It was a privilege to get to know those who make things happen in those communities. Many of them became friends. 

Looking forward, Alison said she would like to see the Mercury Bay arts scene continuing to flourish and the Coromandel to become pest free. She cares deeply about the lack of affordable pensioner housing in Mercury Bay and will continue to campaign for a solution to be found. She is excited about the future of Kauri 2000, especially a new approach that will see “companion” planting taking place as well. “Based on scientific guidance, we plan to shift some of our focus to the planting of other natives complimenting kauri and establishing more complete forests,” she said.

There was a lot of pride in the Henry household when Alison’s award became public knowledge early on Friday morning. “Our kids, grandkids and beautiful great-granddaughter were staying with us,” said Alison. “The table was immediately set for a champagne breakfast. It was a wonderful moment to share with the ones I love the most.

“To be honest, I’m humbled by the honour. And I know people say it always, but an award is never for just one person. To make things happen, there are always a group of people working together. In my case, it’s very true. In everything I’ve done, I’ve always been one of a team. This recognition is for everyone I’ve worked with over the years. We done some great things and we’ve done it together.”

Pictured: Cooks Beach resident, Alison Henry, was appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year’s Honours List released on Friday last week.