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Community Champions

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Te Anau and Manapouri have some amazing community champions; and together we're a great team! This is where we celebrate them with stories and pictures. To nominate a community champion to appear on this page, email us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. 

Dwight Grieve - our national running champ

Dwight Grieve 2Dwight Grieve is a local police officer, all-round nice guy, and perhaps most notably an extreme long-distance runner. He's club captain of the Fiordland Athletics Club and happy taking part in gentle Sunday runs with the club, but also runs distances beyond anything that most of us can imagine is possible and incredible speeds. His most extreme run so far is 185 km in 24 hours in the Sri Chimmoy New Zealand 24 hour champions in Auckland in 2013, coming in second after a tight finish that meant he had to dig deep and run at a speed of 10 km an hour for the last hour, despite having been on the move for 23 hours already.  The race is more than three times the distance of the Kepler Challenge, run on a 400 metre track under floodlights. Dwight says: "I hit the wall after 13 hours and I felt like curling up in a ball and crying for my mummy, but managed to drag myself onwards." Dwight has completed more than ten ultra-marathons. 

However, most importantly for Fiordland, he's also our local champ, running the Kepler Challenge in 2014 in just 5 hours 53 minutes for the entire 60km race round our awesome Kepler Track through Fiordland National Park. 

 

 

Hannibal Hayes - one of our metal heroes in the sky 

Hannibal HayesHelicopter pilot Richard 'Hannibal' Hayes may well have saved more lives than any other New Zealander. Hannibal is an unassuming guy who has carried out about 3,000 rescues working in complex Fiordland mountain and marine landscapes where he doesn't need a map. He's on call 24 / 7 for search and rescue, and is a real metal angel in the sky. He's rescued climbers from crevasses and plucked sailors from the sea. He has been flying choppers around Fiordland for longer than many Fiordlanders have lived. Forty years ago, he was airlifting wild deer to populate the new deer farms. He was the first pilot to use USA night vision military goggles ten years ago. He says: "This means that eight times out of ten we can respond at night, rather than two times out of ten. As well as working in Fiordland, he also works in Antarctica moving glaciologist scientists and their equipment around on the Ross ice shelf. " Hannibal, who owns Southern Helicopters in Te Anau and Heliworks in Queenstown, has received many honours including the MNZM (Member of New Zealand Order of Merit) but is modest: "People like to give you things when you have done something out of the ordinary but there are a lot of things that go on across the board in New Zealand and there are things I look up to." Despite his long service, he is still constantly contactable. He says: "If you are not there to pick up the phone, you probably shouldn't be in the game." In total, he has flown about 30,000 hours – more than three years straight. "That makes me feel tired," he jokes. He is also accident-free, putting him in an elite group of aviators. "A little bit lucky, but you do try to cross the t's and dot the i's," he says.

Ken O'Connell - our amazing award winning chef

fiordland restaurant chef 1Ken O'Connell, our resident head chef at Distinction Hotels in Te Anau has been awarded National Chef of the Year. Ken beat 10 elite chefs from around New Zealand to win the prestigious title. Ken says: "This award cements my skills, knowledge and ability as a chef.

I hope this inspires the young chefs in my kitchens, that anything is possible with hard work, training and pushing yourself to be the best."

 

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