July 28, 2021

Hamilton honours five ‘most exceptional’ citizens

Hamilton City has honoured five of its most ‘exceptional’ citizens by conferring upon them the city’s most prestigious awards.

At a ceremony yesterday(12 July) evening, internationally renowned scientists, ecologists and conservationists, Dr Beverly Clarkson and her husband, Prof. Bruce Clarkson were both awarded the Hamilton-Kirikiroa Medal.

Alongside them, former Hamilton Gardens director, Dr Peter Sergel was similarly honoured and received the medal in recognition for his development of the Hamilton Gardens and other projects in the city.

Two Hamilton City Council’s rare Freedom Holder of the City Awards were also conferred at last night’s ceremony.

Five awarded top honours
(l to r) G. Taylor, Bruce Clarkson, Beverley Clarkson,P. Sergel, N. Keralus,(Peta)Keralus, Mayor P. Southgate, M. Gallagher

Well-known Hamilton-based respiratory specialist, Dr Noel Karalus alongside his wife and prominent Pasifika leader and champion, Elisapeta (Peta) Karalus were both presented with the Freedom Holder of the City Award.

Mayor Paula Southgate, who presented the awards alongside Deputy Mayor Geoff Taylor and long-serving Councillor Martin Gallagher said the event was “quite extraordinary”.

“For a range of reasons, including Covid-19, the city has been unable to properly honour these exceptional individuals until now. So to have five wonderful Hamiltonians in the room, along with their friends and family, and to see their achievements recognised and honoured was very, very special.”

Southgate said Hamilton had been privileged to have Beverley and Bruce Clarkson “at our sides, guiding conservation initiatives and projects for the city and beyond…The work they have done on projects like Waiwhakareke Natural Heritage Park, on our wetlands and on bringing nature to people in our city will benefit our children, our grandchildren and beyond.”

Dr Peter Sergel’s work had already delighted millions of people and would go on to delight millions more, she said.

“Peter is possibly best well-known for his vision, drive and tenacity which delivered the world-class Hamilton Gardens to our city. The Gardens will be an astonishing legacy for him, but they will not be his only legacy,” she said.

“Finally, to stand alongside Noel and Peta once again, and this time honour them for their important work over many years to improve people’s health was quite emotional because I understand their journey. While all our recipients remain incredibly humble, it was wonderful to see them formally recognised by our city.”

Cr Martin Gallagher, who chaired the City Honours Assessment Panel, noted the “staggering achievements” of all five recipients. While each worked in different fields, all five were deeply respected and all had made an immeasurable contribution to Hamilton, he said.

“We have talented, motivated and highly respected people in our city doing incredible work and they deserve to be recognised so we can all applaud and appreciate their achievements.”

Only six people had been awarded the Hamilton-Kiririroa Medal so far.

Philanthropist and city identity John Gallagher was the first recipient in 2014. Bunny Mortimer and John Mortimer who founded and gifted the Taitua Aboretum to the city, were honoured in 2020. John Mortimer, who died in 2018, was honoured posthumously. Bunny Mortimer died in 2021.

The last person to be presented with the Freedom of the City was Peter Bos in 2019, who became the 26th recipient of the prestigious civic honour, bestowed upon individuals for their lifetime. 

Please click here to read the citations and achievements of yesterday’s awardees.