Aotea Army Rallies for Parker Family in Okiwi

The Aotea Army descended on Okiwi on Sunday, demonstrating the extraordinary spirit of the Great Barrier Island community. Led by Leon Foster, the “army” of volunteers accomplished a remarkable amount of work for Kiri and Annette Parker, a couple facing significant challenges.

Annette is battling Alzheimer’s, and Kiri, her devoted husband, is her full-time carer while also fighting cancer himself. The couple, who have given so much to the community, were overwhelmed by the generosity and support shown.

“Kiri and Annette Parker are lost for words and are so overwhelmed by the community spirit helping them in these times of need,” said Leon Foster, the organizer of the Aotea Army.

In just five hours, the team tackled a mountain of tasks that would have taken years for the Parkers to complete on their own. They cleared brush, mowed lawns, built a boulder wall, cleaned and organized the house, and even moved a massive 250kg kauri table.

“We smashed a year or two’s work in five hours,” Foster exclaimed. “Load after load on the ute and trailer.”

Mulberry Grove Store Open 7 AM - 7 PM Daily Food Served All Day Eat In & Takeaway Bottle Store & Fuel

The project attracted over 30 volunteers and seven local businesses who donated fuel, food, transport, and refreshments. Among them were Dayne Clough, who brought his building expertise and a powerful wood chipper, and Malcolm McRae, who generously offered his digger and trailer.

The outpouring of support went beyond the day of work. Local businesses like Barrier Air, Mulberry Grove Store, The Rocks Bottle Shop, and Port Fitzroy Store contributed flights, dinners, groceries, fuel, and a sausage sizzle to support the volunteers and the Parkers. Tracey Stephens even offered a haircut for Annette.


The impact on the Parkers was profound. “They are going to be over the moon,” Leon said. The day was a testament to the power of community and the “gift of giving,” a phrase Foster often uses to describe the work of the Aotea Army.

“The gift of giving is priceless,” he affirmed.

Foster’s passion for helping others is evident in his commitment to this project and his plans for the future. “Already have the next client for a gift of giving ready to go in spring,” he shared.

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