Story by Chris Proctor
We all know those people that are just so worthy of receiving accolades and credit for what they do. May it be for something they have said or the difference they have made in their community. Mark and Meridith Drake of Central Hawkes Bay are those people. Meridith manages a gift shop, while two doors down, Mark serves up fish and chips for hungry locals. Earlier this year, the couple was nominated for Seven Sharp’s ‘Good as Gold’ award - $10,000 for them and their family. They were hugely surprised when a large group of friends and family poured into the Fish Supply, alongside the show host to present the award. The response from the community was overwhelming. But all that didn’t just happen by accident.
One of their biggest community contributions is organising the annual Central Hawkes Bay Duck Day – a big community festival day in the local park, the crown jewel being the race down the river of over 1800 squeaky rubber ducks. The proceeds of the race go to Ronald MacDonald House, an organisation which has kindly supported the couple and their children for over 15 years, as their son has a chronic illness which required many a visit to Starship Hospital. The community response speaks volumes of their contributions and kindness over the years. One Waipawa local told Seven Sharp "Mark and Meredith are the salt of the earth, they're what every community needs."
The couple love their community and its relaxed, small-town feel, commenting on the fact that it has great spirit and is a safe place to raise the kids. That community spirit was displayed during the recent flooding, which had devastating effects for so many people, but everyone pulled together to support each other, delivering supplies and a good dose of kindness. Another example of that kindness and resolve was on display in the aftermath of the fire at the local foursquare, which not only devastated the owners, but the whole community. In an effort to ensure that all members of the community were able to access supplies, each local store volunteered to sell a certain general item that would be found at a supermarket.
Upon asking the couple what future changes they would like to see throughout communities across the country, Meridith said “I’d like to see a lot more equality between people and that everyone has access to the same opportunities.” It's people like Meridith and Mark that really hold a community together, with kindness and humility and the occasional dad joke.