Lawrence through to top three

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Lawrence residents are celebrating their national success after their top-10 finalist ranking in the 2016 New Zealand Community of the Year Awards was upped to a top-three.

Lawrence had been named as one of the 10 finalists for the awards earlier this month and was announced as one of the top three last week.

Tuapeka Lawrence Community Co director Peter Cummings and Lawrence-Tuapeka Community Board chairman Garry McCorkindale, who will now both attend the Auckland gala ceremony where the winner of the awards will be announced, said they were “thrilled” with the success.

“I’m just rapt,” Mr McCorkindale said.

“For all of my life, Lawrence has had a history of battling to retain services and the town has always shown resilience and a will to get behind local causes. That’s our history, but the town is still faced with all the same issues [as other small towns]; we’re not unique in that respect. This [making the awards finals] is a great boost to our confidence for future battles and causes.”

Mr Cummings said the recognition illustrated Lawrence’s “can do, will do, let’s get on with it” philosophy.

“We have many people in our community who are prepared to work to make things happen, to make our district a better place.”

A mammoth project completed last year was the construction of the town’s new $2.5 million swimming pool, for which the Lawrence community raised $400,000.

There had been many other significant projects and “firsts”, including the construction of the Simpson Park sports complex in the 1980s, Lawrence being the first town in New Zealand to own and operate its own rural health centre, and the provision of free internet to the public in the town centre.

The town’s Lions club was also particularly active, and raised more than $100,000 a year for community causes.

The Community of the Year Awards are part of the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year Awards and the winner of the awards will be announced at a gala ceremony in Auckland on February 22.

The other two communities in the running for the title are Randwick Park, in Manurewa, Auckland, and the Empowered Learning Trust, of Reporoa.