FEARLESS Southland woman Anne Robbie has been awarded the first Our Southlander Award by the Southland Mayoral Forum.
Two awards were presented to Mrs Robbie on Saturday, for her tenacious 30 years of voluntary community service.
Leaders from the Southland Mayoral Forum, the Wallace Takitimu Community Board and Otautau RSA and Southland community gathered at the Ryal Bush Community Centre to present the Community Service Award and Our Southlander Awards in recognition for the endless hours she had spent searching, discovering, recovering, restoring and documenting community war memorials and honours boards throughout the region.
Southland District Mayor Gary Tong said Mrs Robbie’s work had saved an incredible amount of history which should never be forgotten.
“In doing so, she has helped to preserve the rich heritage of many Southland communities and honour those who served and made the ultimate sacrifice in wartime.
“Anne’s service has been provided to the past, the present and the future.
“She has assisted in recognising all of these people that died, or were critically ill or stressed or returned OK — who fought for our freedom and rights.
“As Tracey Hicks [Gore Mayor] said on the [presentation] day, ‘you can’t look at the future without looking back’.”
Many of the memorials she had restored were forgotten, lost or left to rack and ruin.
“Anne has been the leader in getting these resurrected and preserved.”
“If it wasn’t for Anne recognising the work that was done 50, 60, 70 years ago, it would be lost.”
Mr Tong said it was clear those who had erected the memorials intended them to last.
“These memorials haven’t been put up as a whim. They’ve been put up absolutely beautifully in marble and precious metals… it’s a recognition of the ultimate sacrifice.”
Wallace Takitimu Community board chair Andre Bekhuis said it was privilege to be able to endorse Otautau RSA’s nomination for Mrs Robbie and recognise her contribution to the community.
“She absolutely hits all the buttons of that community service award.
“She’s done some marvellous work for RSAs restoring history of WW1 and WW2.”
The work had all be done in her personal time and expense with no expectation for recompense.
“She does it without even being asked. She asks for nothing. She just loves doing it.
“I congratulate her. She’s absolutely a person to look up to.
“That’s what community things are all about. They have a passion for what they do and they make it happen.”
People like Mrs Robbie were “rare as hen’s teeth”.
Mr Tong said the councils needed to ensure the work was not lost again and were looking forward to Mrs Robbie assisting to develop a plan to secure the recovered history for future generations.