Busy as bees might be something of a hackneyed phrase but it’s hard to go past it in describing Graham and Barbara Hubert’s voluntary work in Raglan.
They themselves indirectly acknowledge the analogy. “We see ourselves as worker bees, just getting on with what we do quietly and certainly not being in the limelight,” says Graham, or Hubie as he’s better known around town.
The two 70-somethings made a conscious decision a little over 14 years ago – when they started living here fulltime – that in their retirement they’d like to get involved and together help others in the community.
“And really we then had no idea how that would transpire,” adds Hubie.
As it’s turned out they’re involved in a wide and eclectic range of activities, from helping run the Raglan Light Exercise Group and the local horticultural society to freely offering help with people’s gardens and properties and giving away large quantities of everything from surplus vegetables and small plants to freshly caught or smoked fish.
That’s not to mention their work with Xtreme Zero Waste recyclables, Barbara as a knitter of baby clothes for a big New Zealand hospital and Hubie as a Mr Fix-it of an impressive range of household and recreational items.
“They know me very well (at Xtreme),” Hubie says.
Hubie and Barbara, like all the committee members, are passionate about the difference the light exercise group –- which has been around for 20 years now – makes in the community. An average of about 20 locals attend the twice-a-week class, which is not like a gym session but instead all about body mobility and wellbeing as well as offering social interaction.
The pair have both recently also joined the horticultural society committee, Hubie again in a secretary role. He’s also an advocate of simple garden philosophies to have a successful harvest or top flower displays.
Hubie says gardening – along with fishing – is “in our blood”. They grow little plants from seedlings every fortnight and these go out to the community via Xtreme, the local marae, horticultural interests and even the light exercise group to which Hubie’s just taken along six punnets.
“We would like everyone in Raglan to have a simple easy-care, healthy small home garden,” he says of the initiative.
Meantime the Huberts tend their substantial gardens at Raglan and at daughters’ properties in Tamahere and Mt Albert – using horse manure they collect for free from Cambridge stables – and give all the surplus away. That includes about 20 paperbags of potatoes and the like which they distribute among the community around Christmas.
Much of the bounty from their weekly fishing trips up harbour or out to sea is also distributed by Hubie within the community. He’s fished locally for more than 60 years – much of it floundering – and reckons the catch is just as good as ever. “We never come home empty-handed.”
There’s a synergy in their fishing and gardening efforts as the flounder frames go into the garden, along with the mud. Hubie swears by the mud, once rain has washed away the silt.
Members of the Waikato Sports Fishing Club, the Huberts have a couple of bigger boats in ‘Hubie’s Boat Shed’ at the bottom of their property, along with a couple of dinghys for the grandkids. About 70 rods Hubie has made up line the shed; he mixes and matches eyes and reels and gives many of the finished rods away.
That knack for fixing things is also reflected in Xtreme-sourced bicycles, drifting scooters, surfboards, paddleboards, toys, battery-powered tools, craypots, mowers and blowers that all get given a second chance at life in the boat shed.
Hubie can spend all day in the shed, but then next thing the Huberts may be out helping households with mowing, hedges, carting rubbish away or pruning of trees and plants.
He believes that if you give to people, then people give back. “Raglan is a neat little community (like that),” he reckons.
Community Heroes is an occasional column featuring volunteers in our community.
Sponsored by West Coast Health Clinic, 12 Wallis Street, ph. 07 825 0114.