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Sunday, October 1, 2017

Tribute to Judith Holtebrinck by Cnr. Christine Fletcher

Judith helping to set up the
Love Your Mountain Day display
at the Village Centre
6 Dec 2012
Judith Holtebrinck was a long-time supporter of FoM and a close personal friend of several of us. When the renovated Mt Eden Methodist Church and Village Centre opened in 2010, Judith was appointed the centre manager, a position she held until just a few months before her death on 6 August 2017 at the age of 48.

Councillor Christine Fletcher is a board member of the Mt Eden Methodist Church Charitable Trust. She posted the following tribute to Judith on Facebook on 11 August, the day of Judith's end-of-life celebration at the church.

Remembering Judith Holtebrinck

by Councillor
Christine Fletcher

It was with great sadness the Mt Eden community came together today to farewell Judith Holtebrinck, a fearless and visionary campaigner whose contributions to improving the quality of life in our Mt Eden community, and in Auckland generally, are tremendous. While she never sought personal accolades for her considerable achievements promoting sustainability and inspiring urban development, all Aucklanders should know the champion who tirelessly, over many years, helped secure important policy changes that many take for granted today.

Judith and Rev. Saane Langi at the Little Day Out
4 March 2017
Judith and I first met when I was Mayor of Auckland City. Her passionate advocacy for waste minimization and planting fruit trees on public reserves and berms were infectious and resulted in a wonderful legacy of green across the city.

She was a part of the Transition Town movement in Kingsland and wanted to plant fruit trees that everyone could enjoy and also because of rising food prices. In her own words: "It's a nice thing to do for the community. The idea is that kids on the way to school can pick a piece of fruit or have trees near playgrounds."

As a founding member of The Mount Eden Village People, along with Michele Donovan, Sara Rishworth and Gail Batten, the group focused mainly on four projects – fruit tree planting, minimising waste, establishing a community garden and holding workshops on growing food. One of their first goals was to make Mt Eden the first plastic bag-free suburb in Auckland.

Judith and husband Dave at the Wish Tree
on Maungawhau, Love Your Mountain Day
7 Dec 2014
The landscape photographer had noticed bags turning up as rubbish in unexpected and really remote places like Rangitoto. She spoke to the local business association and put on a photography exhibition to help raise awareness.

The strategy for minimizing waste was another joint community effort. Judith persuaded the merchants in Mt. Eden Village to get involved with the campaign. Today, cafés in the village donate their coffee grounds which are used for gardening; a pig farmer collects leftover produce from a local fruit and vegetable shop; while a goat owner collects deli leftovers. The group also set up battery recycling stations at Civic Video and the MBE Copy Shop.

According to Judith, "By changing the environment people will realise there are opportunities to recycle and make the changes at home as well."

I regret that some of this progress has been lost with the amalgamation of the Auckland Council. But I also believe this will change over time because Judith’s work and examples of what can be achieved when people in communities work together, are a legacy to be drawn upon in the future.

Aucklanders should also know of her inspiring leadership in establishing Mt Eden Village Centre. This precious asset, so hard fought for by our Mt Eden community, is the result of a partnership between the community, Council and the Methodist Church. Such partnerships can make for challenging governance. It took an outstanding leader such as Judith, by gentle persuasion and regard for all parties, to make the Centre a reality.

Judith was both a leader and a teacher. What I loved about her particular style of leadership was her inclusiveness, kindness, generosity and thoughtful respect for everyone. These are so important in a city such as Auckland where diversity is a cornerstone of our growth and development.

I hold this marvellous woman in the highest professional and personal regard. We salute you, and thank you from the bottom of our hearts, Judith. We have lost a champion, but your legacy will long endure.