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Outstanding recreation industry leaders recognised

23 November 2012

Outstanding recreation industry leaders recognised

New Zealand’s recreation community gathered last night to celebrate the winners of the 2012 New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) Awards. Eight organisations and four individuals were honoured for their outstanding contribution to the parks and recreation industry at the NZRA Conference Gala Dinner in Auckland.

NZRA Chief Executive Officer Andrew Leslie said the judges felt that decisions were at times very difficult, especially in cases where competition was tight. “The judging panel were impressed with both the quality and level of nominations and those selected represent the best, most successful people, facilities, projects or events in the past year,” he said. “The nominees were all very good, but the winning nominations were outstanding.”

Outstanding Awards

The Outstanding Project Award - which recognises the successful development or major redevelopment of a strategy or facility - attracted the most nominations. This category also had the most varied mix of low and high-cost projects, but all projects contributed significant value to communities. Upper Hutt City Council won the prestigious Outstanding Project Award this year for its programme ‘DIScover: Serving customers with disabilties’, while Wellington City Council’s ASB Sports Centre and Rotorua District Council’s ‘Youth Spaces Project’ received Highly Commended recognition.

Sport Wellington won top honours in the Outstanding Event Award for ‘AMI Around the Bays’. Community Leisure Management won the Outstanding Pool Award for its Glen Innes Aquatic Centre, and Auckland Council accepted the Outstanding Research, Policy & Planning Award for its ‘Sports Field Capacity Development Programme’.

Manukau Leisure proudly accepted two awards- the Outstanding Community Recreation Programme for its ‘AMP’d Programme’ and the Outstanding Recreation Facility Award for its Howick Recreation Centre. Judges commented that Howick Recreation Centre was, “A well performing, vibant centre demonstrating all that is best about recreation facilities - great weekend programmes for preschoolers and parents."

Individual Awards

The four individual awards acknowledged extraordinary people who have motivated others and achieved great success in their field.

The Emerging Recreation Leader of the Year Award recognises significant leadership potential of an individual in the recreation industry. This year’s recipient was Michele Frey, Strategic Planner at Opus International Consultants. Michele is an Accredited Recreation Professional and is very active in restoration and conservation work. She received a planning award in 2003 from the Canterbury Branch of NZ Planning Institute and a Lady Isaac Nature Conservation Scholarship towards her Masters Qualification. As a strategic planner, she has been involved in a variety of projects including physical activity strategies, regional park strategic framework, and expert evidence and research in recreation. In May, Michele represented Generate NZ at the International Parks Forum in Adelaide. She is also an accomplished author and has published research.

The winner of the 2011 Ian Galloway Memorial Cup, which recognises excellence and outstanding personal contribution to the wider parks industry, was Walter Miller. Walter is the Parks Operations Manger for the Rotorua District Council, where he has worked for the past 40 years. His input in to the beautification of Rotorua has been immense and he has been responsible for the planning of the beautiful flower bed displays throughout the city which has been a major contributing factor to Rotorua winning NZ’s best city a record 6 times. Walter has also been a member of NZRA since it was established in 1992. The Ian Galloway Memorial Cup is in memory the late role model and leader of the parks and recreation industry in New Zealand from the 60s to the 80s.

The Mark Mitchell Memorial Trophy recognises excellence and outstanding personal contribution to the wider recreation industry. This year’s winner was Georgie Witehira. Georgie has enjoyed a 25-year career with Manukau City Council and is currently the Group Manager Western Region at Manukau Leisure Services. She has led the launch of the on-the-job training programme across the Parks, Sport and Recreation Department in Auckland Council, which enables greater pathways for all staff to gain nationally recognised qualifications with Skills Active. Birandra Singh of Auckland Council noted, “Staff are now feeling more involved in improving their skills and meeting the challenges of their everyday work. She is producing the leaders of tomorrow.” Georgie has a genuine love of sports and was the assistant coach to the NZ Women’s Basketball team for two years. She is also a highly valued board member of Counties Manukau Basketball Association, as well as being an active NZRA member. The Mark Mitchell Memorial Trophy remembers the man who embodied the heart and soul of the industry as it emerged in the 70’s and 80‘s.

Judy Tipping, Contract Relationship Manager at Auckland Council, was awarded the Paul Stuart Memorial Award for excellence and outstanding personal contribution to the wider facility management industry. Judy has worked in the aquatics industry and facility management for over 25 years and has been involved in many boards and advisory groups, including the Skills Active Technical Advisory Group for Aquatics, the Yardstick Advisory Committee and was a Board member for Watersafe Auckland. She has also been a PoolSafe assessor and was part of the New Zealand Standards committee which re-wrote the Pool Water Treatment standards. Judy has become “EcoSmart” and is delivering a range of environmental and energy efficiencies throughout the Community Leisure Management (CLM) facilities. Craig Carter, General Manager of CLM commented that was an extremely valuable member of the CLM Team. “Her problem solving abilities and exceptional drive to deliver the highest standard possible resulted in many developments within both the organisation and the facilities. Many staff who have worked alongside Judy are continuing to flourish within the recreational industry and much of this can be attributed to her contagious passion.” The Paul Stewart Memorial Award remembers the irreverent, opinionated and professional man who helped create the modern aquatics industry in New Zealand.

Congratulations to all the winners

All of the winners were congratulated for their commitment and passion. “We are privileged to have such talented and hard-working professionals in the recreation industry,” Leslie says. “These people, facilities, projects and events have made such positive differences in the community and we encourage them to continue achieving high standards, while setting an example for others to follow.”


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