12 July 2021
Hamilton City has honoured five of its most exceptional citizens by conferring upon them the city’s most prestigious awards.
At a well-attended and moving ceremony this evening internationally renowned scientists, ecologists and conservationists Dr Beverly Clarkson and her husband Professor Bruce Clarkson were both awarded the Hamilton-Kirikiroa Medal.
Alongside them, former Hamilton Gardens director Dr Peter Sergel was similarly honoured. Dr Sergel received the medal in recognition for his development of the Hamilton Gardens, as well as other projects in the city.
Tonight’s ceremony was made even more significant by the further conferring of two rare Freedom of the City Awards.
Well-known Hamilton-based respiratory specialist Dr Noel Karalus alongside his wife and prominent Pasifika leader and champion Elisapeta (Peta) Karalus were both presented with Hamilton City Council’s Freedom Holder of the City Award.
Mayor Paula Southgate, who presented the awards alongside Deputy Mayor Geoff Taylor and long-serving Councillor Martin Gallagher said the event was “quite extraordinary”.
“For a range of reasons, including Covid-19, the city has been unable to properly honour these exceptional individuals until now. So to have five wonderful Hamiltonians in the room, along with their friends and family, and to see their achievements recognised and honoured was very, very special.”
Dr Peter Sergel’s work had already delighted millions of people and would go on to delight millions more, she said.
“Peter is possibly best well-known for his vision, drive and tenacity which delivered the world-class Hamilton Gardens to our city. The Gardens will be an astonishing legacy for him, but they will not be his only legacy,” she said.
“Peter has been involved in many, many other projects on behalf or our city and I was thrilled to present him with his medal tonight.”
Councillor Martin Gallagher, who chaired the City Honours Assessment Panel, noted the “staggering achievements” of all five recipients. While each worked in different fields, all five were deeply respected and all had made an immeasurable contribution to Hamilton, he said.
“We have talented, motivated and highly respected people in our city doing incredible work and they deserve to be recognised so we can all applaud and appreciate their achievements.”
Southgate noted only six people had been awarded the Hamilton-Kiririroa Medal. Philanthropist and city identity John Gallagher was the first recipient in 2014. Bunny Mortimer and John Mortimer who founded and gifted the Taitua Aboretum to the city, were honoured in 2020.