Memorial Page

Colleen Adams - "Animal Angel"
Colleen Adams was the founder of the CHB SPCA. She loved and cared for animals all her life. At 17, she first joined the SPCA in Auckland. Colleen got into dog training which lead her to animal rescue and re homing dogs in the community.

For several years she volunteered in Hastings, working in the field of animal welfare. In 1989 she started the CHB SPCA branch in her own home here in Waipukurau. Other volunteers fostered animals in their homes as well. Her door was always open 24/7 for animals in need.

Colleen was also registered with D.O.C to care for injured or misplaced hawks and other native birds. She loved her hawks and rehabilitated many and took great pleasure in seeing them fly free again.

Most Christmas periods Colleen would be caring for 30 cats or more at a time in her home along with pups and dogs.  Any she couldn't take were fostered by other members. It became apparent there was a great need for an animal shelter in Waipukurau. Colleen and her members held a public meeting which a lot of people attended. She and her committee found the Coughlan road section in 1992 and decided it was just what they were looking for. At first a deal was made to "rent to buy". It was a real mess, all overgrown and with derelict sheds etc, that had to be cleared and basic kennels and shelters put up ready for all the animals. In 1993, Ron and Jenny Marsden (members of SPCA) bought the property and gave the society the opportunity to buy it from them within 10 years. A lot of fundraising was done and hard work by the members of CHB SPCA. Since then all the buildings have gradually been put up and the grounds developed into the magnificent shelter we have today.

Colleen was there 24/7 caring for the animals along with her team of volunteers helping her. She was a real driving force and inspired so many people to care for and help the animals without a voice. Colleen put her heart and soul into everything she did, driving by her love for animals and the desire to make life better for them.

Before there was a car to transport food from her house to the shelter she would think nothing of carrying dog rolls in her arms along the riverbank track, quite a hike from her house. She never complained when the going got tough, just kept going and did what was needed to keep the shelter running. She was amazing with horses too and nursed many back to health from being neglected.

Colleen was very caring and compassionate, not only for the animals but for the volunteers too. Always there to support you and give wise advice or just to listen when you needed a friend. She was incredibly brave and many times put herself at risk in her inspector work to save animals from cruel, heartless people. No matter what abuse she copped she would keep her cool and in her way put the abusers in their place. As she always said, "The main thing is to get the animals out of the situations they are in". For the ones that couldn't be saved at least they felt what it was like to be loved and respected before  crossing the rainbow bridge. People in the community loved and respected Colleen along with us the volunteers. She was a true animal angel.

Colleen was awarded the "Civic Award" by the Waipukurau council for her selfless contributions to animal welfare.

Sadly, Colleens life was taken by cancer on June 17th 2007. In the time leading up to her death she kept going to the shelter till she was no longer physically able too but was still in the background offering her valuable advice and support.

When she realised that she couldn't manage the shelter anymore she asked Kerry Dunbar to be shelter manager. Colleen never made decisions lightly and knowing Kerry had what it takes to be a brilliant shelter manager, she was able to rest easy in the last part of her life knowing the shelter was in good hands along with a dedicated band of volunteers.

We will never forget Colleen and are proud to be able to carry on her dream of making a difference in the lives of animals who need us.

"See you at the rainbow bridge"
- Written by Jayne Sparr.

"Mrs Magoo"
Mrs Mac's arrival at the shelter was not dramatic. Just the usual tale of owners moving on, cat and kitts left behind. The new tenants would have kept her but as it was on a busy highway, great north road waipawa, they were concerned for her safety as she had an eye problem.

So we took in this long haired, strangely cross-eyed tortoiseshell and her 3 beautiful blk/white fluffy kitts. The little family was placed in a module of their own. She was a very busy and fussy mum, trained her kitts well.

It quickly became obvious there was a severe problem with her sight, quite apart from her cross eyes. A visit to the vet told us she had suffered a severe trauma to the head, there was sight in one eye only and in time that would also go.

There was a well known comic strip about a very short sighted bespectacled character called "Mr Magoo" so she became "Mrs Magoo" which was later shortened to "Mrs Mac". Her 3 kitts  were all adopted out in no time. Then we made the decision to keep her as our 'shelter cat', have her own module with open access so she could learn the layout of the shelter before her sight was completely lost. This was in the very early days at the shelter long before our new modules were built and our facilities were unbelievably primitive.

"Mrs Mac" wasted no time making her presence known to the staff, the residents and visitors alike and very soon became the shelter matriarch, she and Whispa became firm friends, Whispa protecting her from any new dog which came in, even if another cat happened to upset her Whisper would be there to sort things out. If it was raining and Mrs Mac got wet Whisper would "Dry" her off. They developed a deep affection for each other however Mrs Mac always seemed to be "in charge" of everything.

She endeared herself to all who visited the shelter, children and adults alike. When we had school visits, the children were always keen to see Mrs Mac and Whispa. We knew her sight was now deteriorating and desperately wanted to provide her with a nice comfortable home as there would be times when we would have to confine her for her own safety as there were cars coming up our driveway and new dogs coming in regularly.

We planned a new building (the Manor) into 4 modules, each which could be closed off if needed or left open to access an outside area. The unit closest to our kitchen would be for Mrs Mac as by now her sight was almost gone so we needed to have her settled ASAP. A ramp was built up to her window which could be left open for her to come and go, a nice little cat sofa was put in, a pillow on her shelf, her toilet and food were always placed in the same area, and a large water bowl as she was a real water cat. Kim had bought her a cover with cat-nip in it to put on her pillow. Now all we had to do was persuade her to use the ramp. No problem at all, after a couple of guided practice runs she was handling it like a real veteran.

Over the years her safety was always our priority, no matter what we were doing, if a car came in or a dog was bought in, we made sure she was safely in her apartment till it was safe to get out again. There were many a time when she would protest loudly and indignantly but I believe she was just exerting her authority, after all she was the self appointed "Boss".

She received her share of Xmas presents. One year Jaki from Mitre 10 gave her a lovely set of china feeding dishes set in wrought iron, these she used for many years as they were set up off the ground and easy for her to use.

She was a truly unique cat, big green cross eyes, lovely thick tortoiseshell coat. Whenever anything new was purchased she had to examine it closely, her absolute favorite was the red ride on mower and she loved to climb up onto the tank or sit on the seat. We have a lovely photo of her sitting on "her mower". One afternoon Peggy and I couldn't find her when we were ready to leave, we searched and called. Peggy found her in our garden, she had passed quietly away. It was a very sad time for all of us, we just loved her so much. We had her cremated and placed a notice in the paper to let her many friends know. It took Whispa and by now Genta (who had also become firm friends with her) a while to understand she was no longer with us. It left a big gap in life at the shelter for quite a long time as her presence and personality was so great.

Mrs Mac played a very important role in our early days at the shelter. I believe she taught us to treat each animal as an individual, to recognize that a disability can be overcome or adapted to and not impair the quality of a life and that strong bonds can be formed between different species.

We must always be open to continued learning from the animals themselves.

Mrs Mac was one very special cat.

Written by Colleen Adams.