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Local legend takes New Year honour in her stride


Mangawhai’s Jean Goldschmidt was a major recipient in the 2015 New Year honours being awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for her services to the community – but Jean’s services to the community make a long and interesting story.

Known locally for her exploits in establishing the Mangawhai Walking Weekend and bringing it to the forefront of New Zealand’s cross-country activities, Jean’s community involvement, her passion for a variety of projects and her organisational skills in ‘getting things done’ covers several communities and dates back to the 1960s.

Parent helper
Joining the Hillsborough Playcentre Jean became passionate not just about the wellbeing of pre-schoolers but primarily in educating the parents. Jean, a young Mum herself at that time, trained as a supervisor then worked as education officer then field officer running upskilling programmes for other mothers, many of whom later progressed to management roles due to Jean’s guidance. Her efforts were recognised then as she was granted the first Life Membership of the Auckland Playcentres Association in 1985.

Like so many of us with young children Jean then became a member of the Waikowhai School Committee – almost a rite of passage for parents in those days.

Typically as her children grew she remained involved playing her part on the Lynfield High School Board of Governors for nine years.

Jean combined work with play while serving seven years on the Auckland Junior Tennis Committee as tournament convenor and supervising young players on ‘away’ trips. You can see a distinct pattern emerging here can’t you?

While much of this was happening Jean also owned and ran Aachen House Bed & Breakfast establishment in Remuera for nine years.

Mangawhai move
Coming to Mangawhai in the mid-90s was a big step from the city to a very quiet backwater but Jean soon sought some activity initially opening Fallowfield, her rural B&B, to capture some of the passing seasonal travellers and meagre holidaymakers of the time.

Looking for something more to do she joined the local business promotions group, generated interest, then set up and Chaired the Accommodation Group which is still active today.

Seeing Mangawhai as gaining considerable benefit from tourism (providing people knew where to come), in 1998 Jean was instrumental in setting up the Information Centre, operating for many years in a corner of the museum building at the Village. Now, with the help of sponsorship and a great community spirit, it operates from a purpose-built premises by the Mangawhai Club entrance.

Walking passion
In 1999 came the walking tracks. Starting with a little knowledge of the beauty and grandeur surrounding rural Mangawhai, and with combined knowledge from other ‘walking’ locals, Jean saw an opportunity to establish a network of walks the equal of any in the country.

This has meant wading through red tape, taking on the bureaucracy of councils, conforming with DoC and local body regulations, cajoling recalcitrant landowners for the betterment of the community and overcoming some

heated personality clashes, but that is the measure of Jean Goldschmidt, and always ably supported by husband Don, very much in the background to all intents and purposes but always there for Jean.

The walks, growing in number together with burgeoning numbers of summer visitors have, in 14 years, become a four-day event incorporating all ages and abilities of walkers and also for cavers, cyclists, bird watchers and photographers up to 700 in number and providing another stream of funding for local community groups with the aid of a 70-strong volunteer team.

Prior to 2008 Jean was a key component working alongside Geoff Chapple in establishing and opening the Mangawhai arm of Te Araroa, the National Walkway.

Still not satisfied her job was done, in 2010 she became founding member of the Mangawhai Tracks Charitable Trust, developing new and challenging tracks to access the wonderful bush areas and sea vista’s across the Brynderwyn Hills surrounding Mangawhai.

If you didn’t know Jean you could easily pass her in the street. It’s never been about her presence but about her passion in different areas, her willingness to learn then impart her knowledge on others. Her strength is in her managerial ability to bring people together to get things done probably with a lot of personal satisfaction but generally for the betterment of those in ‘her’ community be they residents, tourists or visitors. Her enthusiasm for her life’s work, whatever the project or challenge , and the pleasure she gets from the enjoyment of others through her efforts have been a key component in this award.

Jean Goldschmidt, Mangawhai congratulates you!

More honours
Others gaining awards with strong local ties include Dargaville’s Colleen Urlich who received the Officer of the NZ Order of Merit (ONZOM) for services to Maori art. Apart from her years as an art teacher, Mrs Urlich is a founding member of the Maori contemporary clay artists movement that began in the 1980’s and is also the founding curator of Toi Ngapuhi, now the largest exhibition of Maori arts in New Zealand and flagship to the Ngapuhi Festival in Kaikohe.

One Tree Point resident Craig Brown was awarded the Member of the NZ Order of Merit (MNZOM) for decades of community work including two terms as Whangarei mayor and four terms on the Northland Regional Council with close ties to Mangawhai. He was president of Waipu Lions 1978-1996, six years as chairman of Bream Bay College Board of Trustees and involved in numerous community initiatives and projects.

JEAN GOLDSCHMIDT: Honour follows decades of community service.
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