A total of 162 volunteers were honoured at the Harbour Hospice Long Service Awards held in Red Beach on June 23.
The awards recognise volunteers who have generously give their time, energy and skills to the charity for five years or more.
Among the recipients were 38 Hibiscus volunteers including Mere Witika and Michael Honney.
Witika, 71, was recognised for five years’ service working in the Ōrewa Hospice Shop and fundraising for the charity.
Acknowledging the award, she says it is a honour. Mere started volunteering for Hospice after its team cared for her late husband, the well-known and respected local kaumatua, Murray Witika.
“He was so beautifully looked after by hospice,” Mere says. “He was so loved and I was so loved, I just wanted to give back.”
Mere says volunteering helped her hugely in her grieving process.
“Murray and I had had a very happy marriage. We’d had lots of adventures together and done a lot of work in the community together. When he passed, it was important that I began doing things for myself and stepping out of my comfort zone. Volunteering gave me the chance to do that and I’ve met so many new friends. It has been the best thing that could have happened to me.”
Fifteen-year service award recipient Michael Honney, 83 started volunteering at the Hibiscus House Inpatient Unit because he was impressed by the level of care his friend received from a hospice in Wellington.
He says volunteering for hospice has made his life richer and “rounded off his rough edges”.
“We all have biases, and in the past, I had strong biases,” he says. “But these have changed through talking to the patients I’ve met over the years.
“They have helped me to see things in different ways because, at hospice, your personal views don’t matter. It’s the patient that matters because this is their time, and it’s all the time they have left.
“I’m very humbled by that and I proudly wear my name badge every time I’m on duty.”
Michael started by helping facilitate activities for day programme patients and now he is at Hibiscus House every week helping medical staff and sitting with patients.