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National Awards Of Excellence 2021 Honour The Outstanding Surf Lifeguards Of New Zealand

Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) celebrates dedicated surf lifeguards and club members across the country with the 2021 National Awards of Excellence. These impressive individuals have demonstrated outstanding commitment as lifeguards, officials, coaches, organisers, athletes and more.

SLSNZ Chief Executive, Paul Dalton, shares his gratitude for those who continue their work despite the ongoing challenges faced in New Zealand and worldwide. “Unfortunately, it hasn’t been possible for the SLNZ National Awards of Excellence event to take place for the second year running, due to COVID-19. However, this does not diminish the exceptional achievements recognised by SLSNZ’s annual lifesaving, sport and service awards.”

“In light of a challenging year, we can’t thank our volunteers and members enough for the contributions they’ve made to help keep people out of harm's way. Despite the disappointment of having to cancel our annual awards dinner two years in a row, we need to take this opportunity to recognise those who have mastered skills and shone in particular areas. There’s also an immense appreciation acknowledged for the time and energy given by every one of you to ensure the safety of beachgoers”, adds Dalton.

Phoebe Havill of Onemana and Whangamata Surf Life Saving Club has become the second woman to receive NZ Lottery Grants Board Lifeguard of the Year. Phoebe has shown strong leadership skills, having instructed and examined across a range of Surf Lifesaving disciplines and development camps. She balances numerous committee roles and holds responsibilities with two Surf Lifesaving Clubs. Phoebe also helped form the inspiring Wahine on Water mentorship programme, an initiative to get more females involved in crewing, driving and maintaining IRBs (inflatable rescue boats). Phoebe has also been named DHL Instructor of the Year, an incredible achievement that speaks volumes to her overall contribution to Surf Lifesaving.

A brave call for help and daring IRB drive through choppy waters sees Taranaki SLS Search and Rescue Squad take home the bp Rescue of the Year Award. With fading light and strong currents, the squad used skilful risk assessment and safety expertise to return four girls stranded on Pararaki Rock near Port Taranaki safely to shore.

This year the DHL Volunteer of the Year is awarded to Joanne Hobson of Sunset Beach Lifeguard Service. A very well-deserving recipient, Joanne has contributed to many areas within Surf Lifesaving, including instruction and mentoring of new surf candidates and conducting over 60 hours of active patrolling. Joanne also holds coordination, board member and advisory group roles from club to national level.

Samantha Lee has been inducted into the SLNZ Hall of Fame for her exceptional sporting achievements, being the most successful athlete ever at the Surf Lifesaving World Championships. During her Surf Lifesaving career, Samantha racked up six individual world titles between 2012 and 2016. In doing so, she also set several world records.

The prestigious Innovation of the Year Award goes to the Emily B drifter project, developed by members of the Kotuku SLSC. Emily Branje, who the project honours, was tragically swept out to sea by a rogue wave on the Hokitika River Bar in September 2019. This event prompted Emily’s parents, Patrick and Janine, to coordinate with club member Paul Lambert on a potentially lifesaving concept previously in development.

The Emily B Drifter Project is a drifter system that uses live GPS tracking to identify the probable location of a person missing in the water. Using real-time data on current speeds and drift patterns, the drifter system aims to prevent fatalities and return missing persons to their loved ones as fast as possible. A truly note-worthy innovation, the Emily B Drifter could benefit search and rescue operations across agencies and even internationally, in the future.

A digital flipbook with a complete list of awards and recipients (including citations) will be available to view at the SLSNZ website from 10 am on Saturday 19th of September.


2021 Major Awards Winners

DHL Instructor of the Year

Phoebe Havill, Onemana SLSC & Whangamata SLSC

NZ Lottery Grants Board Lifeguard of the Year

Phoebe Havill, Onemana SLSC & Whangamata SLSC

TSB Surf Official of the Year

Tania Ahrens, Kariaotahi SLS

TSB International Sport Performance of the Year

Joe Collin, Fitzroy SLSC

DHL Innovation of the Year

The Emily B Drifter Project, Kotuku SLSC

Patrol Support of the Year

Mary Duff, United North Piha Lifeguard Service

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