The overall winner’s modest reaction reinforced her Housing Heroes Award nomination.
“Thank you so much,” Tilaga Sethupathy said when congratulated for being named overall winner of the 2021 Housing Heroes Award.
“Thank you, but I’m not sure what I’ve done to deserve this.”
The Housing Heroes Awards were presented at a ceremony at Maurice Carter Courts this week.
The awards recognise ŌCHT tenants who go above and beyond for their neighbours and community.
The winners were nominated by ŌCHT tenants and the event was run by the Tenant Advisory Group.
Tilaga’s was the last of 37 citations Ōtautahi Community Housing Trust board chairman Alex Skinner read to the 50-strong crowd.
“Tilaga is always there to help anyone and everyone; never asks questions and never asks for anything in return,” the nomination read.
“Just an all round wonderful tenant and well respected by all.”
More than this, Tilaga tends to others’ gardens and does what she can to make her community a colourful and comfortable place to live.
She won the Good Sort Award and was second overall in the ŌCHT Garden Awards this year, and runner up last year.
Tilaga says she enjoys what she does and that helping others is just part of living in a tight-knit community.
She recently hurt her back but that was not enough to stop her getting back in the garden. As she told Cate, perhaps only half-joking: “if you rest, you rust”.
Healthy homes advocate Stephen McPaike received a Special Award for his focus on the wider ŌCHT community.
He was nominated for championing the Healthy Homes upgrades, for advocating for the tenant community and for facilitating a donation of play equipment for a new ŌCHT complex.
Stephen said he was grateful the award also acknowledged his recent work raising awareness of domestic violence against men.
Former Tenant Advisory Group member Jim McMillan also received a Special Award for his work as the first TAG chairman.
Jim retired earlier this year from a group he called “a wonderful asset, where tenants and ŌCHT can work together”.
TAG event coordinator Noeline Monsef said they were a chance to recognise the people who reinforce a sense of community in community housing.
“So many wonderful people are doing wonderful things, and this often slips under the radar. We really should celebrate all that good.”
Noeline said the judging panel was impressed with the calibre of the record-setting 37 nominations.
Published October 27, 2021