Award raises questions

Ashburton District Council councillor Phill Hooper
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Councillor Phill Hooper has received an award from Ashburton District mayor Neil Brown for his on air work.

Mr Hooper was presented with a plaque by deputy mayor Liz McMillan on his last day at Radio Hokonui.

The plaque is identical to those awarded to deserving members of the community like volunteers and organisations.

The inscription on the plaque, which was posted on Mr Hooper’s popular Hoops at Hokonui Facebook page, reads: Awarded to HOOPS in recognition for his dedication to the Ashburton Community, 6 April 2023.

Cr Carolyn Cameron during last week’s council meeting, asked about the procedure of Mr Hooper receiving the plaque.

‘‘Can we have some elaboration on what that is and who authorised that, was it from the council or from another person?’’ she said.

Mr Brown, replied, it was organised through the mayors office, ‘‘for recognition for Phill Hooper – the radio DJ – who had done 16 years service to the district, and the mayor’s office thought it would be very fitting for recognition of that number of years service to our community.’’

Cr Cameron, who noted the council were not advised of the award, asked if this was a common occurrence available to others in the community.

‘‘Can we approach the mayor if we have other worthy people in Ashburton who are allowed to be honoured with a particular award?’’, she said.

Mr Brown said it was a special case. ‘‘It was fitting to be done at that particular time.’’

‘‘The council wasn’t advised at the time but were being advised now,’’ he said.

It was listed on the council agenda under the deputy mayor’s report to council.

Mr Hooper was employed as a breakfast host for the radio station.

The Courier sought clarification from council on others who had received similar acknowledgement, and how Mr Hooper stood out from other paid employees in a private capacity. No other names were received.

‘‘Hoops was given a plaque (not an award) recognising his dedication to the Ashburton community. Council has a few of these in store and they can be adapted for various occasions,’’ Mr Brown said, in reply.

He said the relationship was of great value during the floods of May 2021, ‘‘when Hoops stayed on air past his regular shift ending time to keep residents abreast of the latest information being shared by our emergency management centre.

‘‘The plaque was a spontaneous gesture organised by the mayor (who could not be there on the day) and aimed at recognising Hoops’ part in keeping our whole community connected over the years, for helping council spread its vital messages when needed, and for his assistance in a host of community fundraising efforts,’’ he said.