Tauranga Volunteering Services manager Angela Wallace is a finalist in the national Local Hero awards for her work founding Awhina House, a transitional housing residence for women.

She says her nomination came as a complete surprise a couple of weeks ago when she received a medal in the mail.

She is one of 100 finalists throughout New Zealand and one of four in the Bay of Plenty honouring those who “use their passion to make our country a better place”. The other Bay of Plenty finalists are Christina Robinson of The Daily Charitable Trust in Te Puke, Te Aorere Pewhairangi who walked the Ngāti Porou boundary and Vicki Wood who volunteers with Victim Support.

One of the 100 will be chosen in March next year as the national Local Hero.

Angela had been working in film production and returned to Tauranga in 2013. Confronted by the level of homelessness in the city she gathered a team of like-minded women to establish Awhina House. It is the city’s only transitional housing provider solely for women, and works with other providers to support women into independence and housing.

“I’m so proud of the work our team did to establish Awhina House. It has been a privilege to walk alongside the women who called Awhina House home during difficult times,” she said.

“I’d like to honour my fellow workers Tania Lewis-Rickard and Colleen Spiro (sadly Colleen passed away in 2022) who tirelessly worked alongside me to bring Awhina House to life.”

In April this year Angela started as the new manager for Volunteering Services under the umbrella of SociaLink, which supports the Western Bay of Plenty’s social and community sector.

SociaLink general manager Liz Davies said Angela was an exemplar of what a volunteer can contribute and achieve.

“We couldn’t have asked for a better manager for Volunteering Services.”