Celebrating Seniors

International Day of Older Persons


The United Nations General Assembly voted to establish October 1 as the International Day of Older Persons to raise awareness about issues affecting the elderly, such as senescence and elder abuse. It is also a day to appreciate the contributions that older people make to society.


Building on the established Kāpiti Elder Person of the Year event, in 2018 Age Concern Kāpiti and the Kāpiti Coast Older Persons' Council events and activities work group organised a celebration of the International Day of Older Persons held in the Te Newhanga Kāpiti Community Centre.


Starting at 10am, the day featured:


  • Fernando, a wonderfully talented entertainer from Chile;
  • Entertainment from Coastal Villas;
  • Spot Prizes; and
  • Julie Maltby’s Fashions of the Day


A highlight of the day was an address by Renée, a writer and playwright from Otaki. Renée is of Māori (Ngāti Kahungunu), Irish, English, and Scottish ancestry. She wrote her first play Setting the Table in 1981


Mayor Gurunathan of the Kāpiti Coast then spoke, and made presentations to:

  • Renée;
  • Alison Vautier (founder of the CAMEO - Come and Meet Each Other- Pop-in Centre in Mahara Place Waikanae), and 
  • John Hayes
    for their outstanding contributions to the Kāpiti Coast.


The day was finished with a good old fashioned singalong and lunch.


The celebration was much appreciated by all, and is likely to be the first of many.

In previous years this event was known as:

Recognising our over 65s for their efforts and contributions to the Kapiti Coast.


The 2016 Kāpiti Elder Person of the Year was awarded on 9th November to 

Valerie Freeman.

She was given the award at a function at Metlifecare Kapiti Village which featured other finalists Sheila Hart, Shirley Jarden and Patrick McCann.

Mrs Freeman has been a volunteer at the Salvation Army family store in Paraparaumu for 15 years.

She works three shifts per week, each four hours long, at the front counter.

"I was asked to come and work for the store, when I was ready, after my husband died.

"Two years later I started there and have really enjoyed it.

"I love the customers and helping the Sallies to do good work."

And she's served as a facilitator for the Kapiti branch of Widowed, Separated and Divorced (WSH) organisation for 11 years.

"It's a 10 week course twice a year and it's for people who are grieving - it they've been widowed, or their partner has gone off with someone else, or they've lost somebody to death, and we included in the last few years people who have got their partner in care."

Mrs Freeman said winning the award was a shock especially as the other finalists, and nominees, "were all wonderful people".

"And there's wonderful people who probably weren't even nominated."

When it comes to helping people, Mrs Freeman said, "I don't even think about it, I just do it".

The third Kapiti Elder Person of the Year was organised by the Kapiti Coast Older Persons' Council as well as Age Concern Kapiti.

2015 Kāpiti Elder Person of the Year 

is Trevor Daniell
Trevor Daniell accepts his award from last year's winner, Betty van Gaalen.

2014 winner Betty Van Gaalen

On November 24th 2014, Betty van Gaalen was awarded a Kiwibank Local Hero Of The Year Medal, and was later a finalist in the Senior New Zealander of the Year.

2014 Nominations:

Judging is on:

  • Contribution and benefit to society and impact on community or nation 
  • Efforts in working toward goals 
  • Number of hours committed paid or unpaid 
  • Length of service 
  • Impact on community or nation 
  • Commitment to their personal development
  • Contribution to their community 
  • Degree of difficulty in achievement

The Kāpiti Elder Person of the Year is a joint venture of the Kāpiti Coast Older Person's Council and Age Concern Kāpiti.