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NZer Joins Aussie Kayakers In Mateship Award

News release: 28 April 2008

New Zealander Joins Aussie Kayakers In Winning Top Australian Mateship Award

Mike Hanning, the Kiwi who helped ensure the safety of the young kayakers during their World-first trans-Tasman kayak expedition, has jointly won the 2008 Spirit of Mateship Award with the two Australian kayakers James Castrission and Justin Jones.

Throughout the 62 day journey across the Tasman Sea, the trio displayed the true meaning of “mateship” that exists between Australia and New Zealand.

The Spirit of Mateship Award was established in 2006 by Tourism Australia to honour selfless Kiwis and Aussies whose acts are an outstanding example of trans-Tasman mateship. The award will be presented to Mr Hanning, Mr Castrission and Mr James at the black-tie, Spirit of Mateship Award Gala Dinner Wednesday evening in Auckland, held as part of G’Day NZ Australia Week 2008.

During the 3,300km journey Justin and James faced 4m sharks, rough seas and furious headwinds, and a giant tidal whirlpool that delayed their journey by two weeks and added more than 1,000kms. Despite these challenges, the two men were confident in the knowledge that their progress was being tracked and closely monitored by Kiwi support Mike Hanning.

Mike Hanning worked with the two Australians to plan the course and set up the global tracking system that would keep Mike, and the two kayakers’ families, aware of their location at all times.

James says: "It is such a privilege to win this award alongside Mike, who was a huge support to us, our families, and all our stakeholders.”

"This award is all about mateship and the special bond that Kiwis and Aussies have when it really counts. We are so competitive when it comes to rugby and cricket, but when it really comes down to it, each nation will always support the other," adds Justin.

"Justin and I have formed a connection with New Zealand that will be with us always. Thank you NZ, you guys rock," says James.

Mr Hanning says he’s thrilled to be winning the Spirit of Mateship award with Justin and James as the trio have become good friends.

“My involvement in the expedition started with a couple of phone conversations and e-mails with them about their plans, and how we were going to be their safety net through our tracking system,” says Mr Hanning. “Over the course of the 62 days the guys went from being a couple of dots on the screen to two men we got to know well – it was really good to finally meet them when they arrived in New Plymouth.”

“The mateship that derived from this expedition is something to be proud of - from the guys at the front doing it, to us supporting the expedition in our small way and ensuring their safety in the background,” says Mr Hanning. “The friendship between us, the guys, and their support team, has turned into a long-term working relationship. We’re looking at new opportunities, and it’s a true Kiwi/Aussie operation born out of this one adventure.”

Tourism Australia Regional Manager, Vito Anzelmi says Mike Hanning was the kayakers’ lifeline at a time when they were in nature’s hands.

“The unwavering support Mike gave the two men, together with their outstanding bravery epitomises the reason for which the Spirit of Mateship Award was created by Tourism Australia,” says Mr Anzelmi.

Both James and Justin will also be in New Plymouth to revisit the landing site at Ngamotu Beach Wednesday morning at a formal welcoming ceremony and plaque unveiling.
Previous recipients of the Spirit of Mateship Award include the firefighters from New Zealand and Australia who risked their lives to help contain wild fires in the mountains north-east of the Australian State of Victoria, one of the fiercest in Australia’s history (2007 Award) and Aussie Mark Smith and Kiwi Steve Freeman who survived after being adrift in the South China Sea for 11 days in December 2005 (2006 Award).
The Spirit of Mateship Gala Dinner is presented by Tourism Australia, Australian Trade Commission, Qantas and Penfolds.
G’Day NZ Australia Week 2008

Proudly presented by Tourism Australia G’Day NZ Australia Week is a week long celebration of the unique ‘spirit of mateship’ shared between Australia and New Zealand. Through featured events, G’Day NZ Australia Week is successfully able to showcase trans-Tasman relationships; Australian food and wine; sport; culture; lifestyle and tourism.

In its third year, G’Day NZ Australia Week will include four events from 24 April – 2 May 2008, including Very Gold Coast Corporate Golf Challenge, OZTalk Travel Expo, Spirit of Mateship Gala Dinner and The Rosemount Great Australian Lunch. For further details on the event or to attend, please visit www.australiaweek.co.nz.

Official Sponsors of G'Day NZ Australia Week 2008: Tourism Australia, Australian Trade Commission, Rosemount, Qantas, The Quadrant and APN Media


ENDS

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