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Recreation Awards 2019

This year some of Aotearoa’s top recreational providers and advocates were recognised at an awards dinner, held during the 2019 Recreation Conference in Hamilton.

Recreation is ingrained in New Zealand’s social and cultural fabric, making us a world leader in this area. At Recreation Aotearoa we believe that recreation is integral in generating healthy and well-connected communities, and we are incredibly lucky to have people, places and organisations that can enable these outcomes. The Recreation Awards are an opportunity for us to honour the drivers behind our industry.


This year the Outstanding Project Award went to two nominees: Christchurch City Council (CCC) and AECOM’s Ngā Puna Wai Sports Hub, and the Central Energy Trust (CET) Wildbase Recovery in Palmerston North. The Ngā Puna Wai Sports Hub is a 32-heactare outdoor sports hub developed in partnership with CCC, Sport Canterbury and four sporting codes (Athletics, Hockey, Rugby and Tennis) whose grounds were damaged in the major earthquakes of 2010 and 2011. Since its opening in October 2018 NPW has hosted several sporting events, including an FIH Pro League series, bringing international level hockey to Christchurch.

The CET Wildbase Recovery is the first New Zealand facility, permitted by the Department of Conservation (DOC), in which the community can view and learn about rare and endangered wildlife as they recover from injury and illness. CET was a community generated idea brought to life by Massey University’s Veterinary School, Rangitāne o Manawatū, DoC, Rotary and Lions Service clubs, and Palmerston North City Council.

The Outstanding Project Award was the highest subscribed category with the judges awarding four merit awards. These awards went to Hamilton City Council for their Waterworld renewal project, Christchurch City Council for Taiora: QEll Recreation & Sports Centre in Christchurch, Queenstown Lakes District Council’s Wanaka Pool, and to Boffa Miskell and Auckland Council for Te Auaunga/Oakley Creek.

The winner of Outstanding Park was Shakespear Regional Park in Auckland. The park is Auckland Council’s most visited and accessible open sanctuary, integrating conservation, recreation and farming. Two merits in this category were awarded to Palmerston North City Council’s Ahimate Reserve and to Ruapehu District Council’s Ohakune Carrot Adventure Park.

Outstanding Event of 2019 was awarded to Hutt City Council for their event Ara Mai! Te Whiti Riser Night Walk. The event was an opportunity for residents to experience the Te Whiti Riser walk at night accentuated by lights and music. Ara Mai was delivered in partnership with manawhenua – Te Rūnanga o Te Aitawa and supported by House of Travel Lower Hutt, while raising funds for White Ribbon NZ.

Outstanding Community Recreation Programme was another hotly contested award which was ultimately presented to Auckland Teaching Garden Trust and Auckland Council for the Ka whakatipū I te whenua ka ora tatou – Cultivate the land and give life to the people programme. Merits were also given to This is Me®, Sport Waikato; AroOra, Community Leisure Management; and Playing Palmy, Heather Knowles and Friend and Palmerston North City Council.

Community Leisure Management’s Lido Aquatic Centre was the Outstanding Pool Award winner. With a diverse range of community programming and outreach, Lido Aquatic Centre shows strength in innovation and engagement.

Hamilton City Council took away the Outstanding Award for Research Planning and Policy. After a review of its sport and recreation strategy the council adopted a Play Strategy in April 2019. The strategy expands the definition of sport and recreation; ‘play’ is defined as organised sport, information recreation and spontaneous play.


Jane Aickin of Auckland City Council and Fay Freeman, ONZM have both been made Recreation Fellows, recognising their significant contributions to the recreation sector.

Emerging Recreation Leader was awarded to Hannah Chapman-Carr. Hannah started her parks career in 2015 and currently works for Auckland City Council as a Parks Project Specialist, as well as sitting on the Recreation Aotearoa Board as an Aspiring Director. Hannah’s nominator says, “Her drive, determination and unashamed ambition to the best she can be, has clearly defined Hannah as an emerging recreation leader.”

Kirsty Knowles of Community Leisure Management (CLM) was recipient of the Paul Stuart Memorial Award. This award recognised the outstanding commitment and contribution to facilities made by an individual. Kirsty has 16 years of experience in the sector and takes a hands-on approach to all of the work she does. CLM CEO, Craig Carter says, “At CLM we are fortunate to have Kirsty as part of our senior leadership team, due to her expertise and knowledge in the Operations/HR space. In my opinion she has one of the sharpest minds in this space and it is great to see our whole industry now benefiting from this through her voluntary support of Recreation Aotearoa. People like Kirsty will ensure that our industry continues to raise the bar.”

The Mark Mitchell Memorial Trophy for commitment to the wider recreation industry was given to Steve Gibling. Steve has been in the recreation industry since 1998, demonstrating dedication and immense knowledge. He has held a number of senior positions within sector and has also taken on various voluntary responsibilities, including youth mentoring and coaching.

Mark Bowater was awarded the Ian Galloway Memorial Cup for his services to parks. Mark is an Accredited Recreation Professional with 35 years in the sector. As a leader in the parks industry for many years Mark has achieved a great deal to further parks for the benefit of our communities and the environment. His emphasis on collaboration and best practice has helped shape and change the nature and focus of the Auckland parks network.

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