- Media release
04 Feb 2024
Some people go out of their way to make their community a better place.
This was acknowledged today for faithful Otautau servant Peter Gutsell, who was presented with a Community Service Award on his 80th birthday by Southland District Mayor Rob Scott.
The award, which recognises Mr Gutsell’s contribution to the Otautau community over 50 years, was made on behalf of Southland District Council and the Wallace Takitimu Community Board.
A humble, caring man, Mr Gutsell’s selfless voluntary service to Otautau and surrounding area is reflected in the large number of projects he helped to initiate.
Starting with the development of the town’s new school in 1953, over the following five decades he has forged an enduring legacy in his community.
He was a long-serving member of the Otautau Volunteer Fire Brigade, rising to the rank of Deputy Chief Fire Officer. Today also marked a significant moment in his service when he was presented with a 25-year Gold Star by Mayor Scott on behalf of the Otago-Southland Fire Brigades Gold Star Association.
As a community board member from 2013 to 2022 Mr Gutsell instigated Otautau’s floodbank walkway monuments and was a passionate advocate of development of Holt Park. Previously, as an Otautau Town Board member, he helped to drive redevelopment of the town hall and the sewerage scheme project.
He was a member of the Otautau Promotions group for many years, serving as chairman, and is still a valued member of the Otautau RSA. He also served as a Scout leader, served on the Otautau School committee, the Otautau Museum committee, the Thornbury Vintage Machinery committee and the Otautau River Board.
When labour for town projects was required Mr Gutsell was always among the first to pitch in.
Mr Gutsell is a regular contributor to the Otautau New and Views newsletter, and an avid historian. His photographs provide a record of the township dating back to at least 1950. His photographs of the devastation caused to Otautau during the 1984 floods are held on record in the Invercargill Archives.
Mayor Scott said “if anything in the community needed to be done, Peter was there.
“You’ve done so much for your community across so many different facets, from helping them out in the bad times to shaping and defining the good times and I know that you take an immense amount of pride in your town”.
Mayor Scott said: “Your selfless nature has even shone through today where the rhododendron we’re giving you, you’re donating back to the community. It’s a measure of the man to a tee.”
Wallace Takitimu Community Board chair Tony Philpott and board member Colin Lawry endorsed the town’s gratitude to Mr Gutsell for his contributions, and Mr Gutsell’s wife Margaret was thanked for her support.