In praise of the Wellys

The list of winners of the grand accolade of Wellingtonian of the Year is a record of the great and the good, the achievers and the worthy contributors to our city over the last quarter century.

And so it was again on Thursday when long serving community representative and all round good person, Ruth Gotlieb, was named as the 2010 Wellingtonian of the Year at a flash do at the Wellington Town Hall.

The DominionPost 's support of the event now extends to  22 years - the last five with the help of Agenda Marketing. In 2010 the partnership produced another splendid evening ably steered by Agenda's Gayle Paige. The event is well supported by sponsors other than the DominionPost, with the Wellington and Hutt City Councils, the Wellington Company Opus, the Employers' Chamber of Commerce, Wellington Airport Westpac and Hawkins Construction and Massey University all on board.

There are inevitably questions about why this person was preferred to that person and what were the judges looking for. For example, why was Gabrielle Armstrong-Scott, a 14 year diver whose best achievement was 10th in the Commonwealth Games, preferred ahead of Maria English who got a perfect score in the international Cambridge A level English exams making her first equal in the world from over a hundred thousand other students?

There can also be differing views about whether the awards are for past achievements or for celebrating something brilliant done in the previous twelve months.

Sir Jon Trimmer (2008) and Sir Roy McKenzie (2004) were honoured for their lifetime of good work, but Chris Parkin (1993), Peter Jackson (2001) and Marco Zeeman (2005) were honoured while they were hot from their achievements in the year they were honoured.

While the famous and well known have been honoured, there have been others of less prominence but arguably no less contribution - Gloria Grattan who was the first Wellingtonian of the Year. She was honoured in 1989 for many years service as Matron at Wellington Hospital and a tireless fundraiser for the Mary Potter Hospice.

Likewise Sister Annette Green from the Sisters of Compassion who run Wellington's Soup Kitchen, and the late Keith Brown, who ran the Room at the Inn organisation for many years, providing Christmas dinner to those who would otherwise go without.

So Ruth Gotlieb who also won the government service category in this year's awards joins a special group. A city councillor for 21 years, a member of the Capital and Coast DHB, and also of the Regional Council, she is well known as a champion of people and their rights to civic and national services.

On the night the celebrations were not just for the winners, but also for all the nominees, and for the city itself. A bit of self congratulations is warranted from time to time as we recall and celebrate just how fine a city this is, and how good its people are. To misquote an old rugby saying; on the night, Wellington was the winner.