It’s the calling deep in the heart that led Hamish Crooks, the chief executive of Pacific Homecare, into community services. His decades of contributions to Pasifika has been recognised again, receiving membership of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday Honours.
The 57-year-old NZ-born Scottish and Cook Islands’ descendent left his career as an internal auditor and management accountant in the early 1980s after three years into the business, and joined community groups helping unemployed youth and Pacific people.
The Flat Bush resident says he feels overwhelmed and honoured about his selection.
“I love doing the work I do. It’s for me, but ultimately it also recognises all the people you are working around, and with, and for.”
The charitable trust, which Crooks became chief executive for in 2010, has 160 support workers going out to 560 Auckland homes every day.
They care for people who struggle with disabilities, illness or age, and also help families wade through financial and other difficulties.
“We don’t judge people. We just get on with what really matters, to show them love and care,” Crooks says.
He describes his work as “pursuing hope”, and thinks it’s all about helping families to help themselves.
“Nothing is instant. You’ve got to work with them to get towards these goals over a longer period of time.”
Crooks deliberately set up his office close to reception to keep an eye on things that come through, and believes in treating people with honesty and integrity.
All the office rooms are named after an indigenous Pacific flower, as Crooks sees the beauty of his staff’s work of going out every day “is like taking flowers to someone”.
Besides Pacific Homecare, Crooks is involved with the Second Nature Trust, which established the Vodafone Events Centre and the Vector Wero Whitewater Park in Manukau.
He’s also a trustee of community organisations including Fonua Ola Network Trust, a social service trust, and the Pacific Peoples Advancement Trust, supporting Pacific youth.
The management consultancy company 4PM Group Ltd he established in 2001 has assisted Pacific not-for-profit agencies around the country with advice and services, and helped mainstream agencies connect with Pacific communities.
Among his previous accolades, there are the SunPix Pacific Peoples Award and the Pasifika Medical Association Services Award in 2016.
“The thing about this particular honour for me is that it makes me feel proud to be a New Zealander, and I think whether we’re migrants or born here doesn’t really matter,” Crooks says, about the Order of Merit.
“Everyone has the opportunity to make a difference, no matter where they are.”