by PETER GRACE
WELLINGTON — The three founders of an organisation to support disabled people have
been honoured 36 years after it began.
Mt Tabor Trust community leader Evan Clulee said the New Zealand Christian Network recently announced its Unsung Heroes awards in four areas.
“Basically, the founders of Mt Tabor Trust were nominated for a long service award — for service to disabled people,” he said.
The award was in the “Missional Living” category.
Speaking to NZ Catholic on August 29, Mr Clulee said Parliament’s deputy speaker, Eric Roy,
was to present the three Mt Tabor founders with their award in Wellington on September 2.
According to Mt Tabor Trust background information, Irene Hogan, Lorraine Popple and John
Hill began an intentional community to welcome people with intellectual disabilities from out of the big institutions of the day — St John’s, Mangere, and Carrington Hospitals.
Ms Hogan was a nurse and midwife with Volunteer Service Abroad experience in Malaysia,
Ms Popple was a teacher who had been a missionary in Papua New Guinea, and Mr Hill was
a young businessman in Auckland. They had been drawn together at a Catholic lay training
centre in 1977.
While there, they were inspired by Jean Vanier of L’Arche to see the poorest of the poor
in New Zealand as people who had been locked away from the ordinary lives they were so capable of living. L’Arche is a worldwide organisation supporting disabled people.
In 1978 they visited St John’s Psychopaedic Institution in Papatoetoe.
Friendships were formed and they invited seven people with disabilities to come and live
with them, laying the foundation for Mt Tabor Trust.
Mr Clulee told NZ Catholic that Mt Tabor Trust now has seven houses — three in Helensville,
northwest of Auckland, and four in Henderson, in west Auckland.
“We’ve got 31 core members — people we support.” The trust also had 35 support staff.
The founders were nominated anonymously, he said. Their work over the years had been
about friendship and sacrificially committing their lives for their people.
“They don’t have a set role in the trust, but it’s about supporting their friends,” he said.