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Sport NZ Announces 2024 Sport And Recreation Award Winners

Sport NZ has tonight celebrated the winners of the annual New Zealand Sport and Recreation Awards.

People from across the country’s play, active recreation and sport sector gathered at the Aotea Centre in Auckland to acknowledge and congratulate the winners, all of whom have made outstanding contributions towards helping New Zealanders get, and remain, physically active.

“Tonight’s event is about recognising and celebrating the achievements of our nominees who do amazing mahi, day in and day out, across our sector,” says Sport NZ Chief Executive Raelene Castle.

“They have a material impact on the wellbeing of our communities and the passion and dedication they display in their mahi is inspiring.

“There was a record number of entries this year, and the standard of those entries was incredibly high, making it very challenging for the judges to select only three finalists in each category. I would like to congratulate not just the finalists and winners, but everyone who was nominated.”

Sport NZ received a record 79 entries across eight categories for the awards. A full list of winners can be found below.

The New Zealand Sport and Recreation Award winners for 2024 are:


Basketball NZ and Schick

Basketball New Zealand and Schick have been working together since 2017, and their latest collaboration is helping communities across New Zealand keep up with the booming demand for grassroots basketball.

Basketball New Zealand has a vision of “a hoop in the heart of every community”, but an absence of indoor and outdoor facilities can make it hard for would-be ballers in smaller spots across the motu.

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The new 2023 campaign, Schick NeighbourHoops, saw Schick commit to funding 10 new basketball hoops across Aotearoa — with the public voting for the most deserving locations via a social media campaign.

This, combined with the 2020 Schick Everyday Ballers campaign, has seen huge engagement and brand awareness for both partners with a reach of 2.6 million people and permanent brand presence in 10 new basketball communities.


Whanake o te Kōpara (WISPA and The Shift Foundation)

Whanake o te Kōpara (rise of the female bellbird) delivers a leadership development programme specifically for young women in the sport, active recreation and wellbeing sectors. It is the first nationwide programme of its type and is now in its fourth year, with 72 young leader alumnae.

The kaupapa became clear when the 2018 Government Strategy for Women and Girls in Sport and Active Recreation revealed there wasn’t a specific national leadership strategy for women under 25. WISPA — Women in Sport Aotearoa and The Shift Foundation set out to bridge that gap for 19 to 24 year old women.

Whanake o te Kōpara provides a free leadership course for 20 female participants per yearly intake with the course focusing on Kōhine Māori, Asian and Pasifika participants, and those from outside the main centres — all of whom are significantly underrepresented in sector leadership roles.

WISPA and The Shift Foundation are striving to help New Zealand create the world’s most equitable sports system and Whanake o te Kōpara is directly supporting that change — 20 future leaders at a time.


Gymnastics NZ

It is well documented that gymnastics has been through a challenging period, making the leadership and scope of work that has led to this award all the more valued.

Responding to significant issues around athlete wellbeing and safeguarding, Gymnastics New Zealand undertook the creation and implementation of a comprehensive national Participant Safety, Wellbeing and Inclusion Project.

Wide-ranging umbrella reforms were required, from changes to athlete attire regulations, to a clear child safeguarding policy, to compulsory police vetting and safeguarding training for every single coach on the ground, which included a large cohort of youth coaches.

The work is not over, but the project already has been a major driver in empowering the gymnastics community to contribute to a stronger culture, safer environments, and

better outcomes for the thousands of youngsters who will take the sport into a healthy future.


Hawaiki Kura

Based in Te Tau Ihu at the top of the South Island, Hawaiki Kura is a Māori-owned, whānau-run business that specialises in Māori cultural development, Māori awareness training, and authentic Māori tourism — for both Māori and non-Māori groups and organisations.

For more than a decade, husband and wife team Kiley and Donna Nepia have delivered a suite of bilingual workshops and initiatives that strengthen connection with Te Ao Māori, including leading cultural revitalisation activities for iwi, and leadership workshops for rangatahi between 15 and 17 years old.

The kaupapa is delivered on the marae, or at the moana (sea), ngahere (forest) or other places of significance. Participants can learn traditional Māori physical activities including weaponry like mau rakau, mau taiaha, mere and poi, ancestral medicine, whakatau mauri (Māori meditation practices) or rituals. And of course, tākaro Māori — traditional sports and games.

Kiley, Donna and their whānau are helping others to make hugely meaningful transformations in their own lives, and in the whānau of those they support.


North Harbour Hockey Association

North Harbour Hockey is breaking new ground for the role of sport in sustainability thanks to a bold, habitat restoration project. Te Hononga a Iwi — Restoring Rosedale Park - is a local project to turn 10,000 square metres of steep, previously weed and rubbish-riddled riparian land into a model for environmental sustainability.

In just over two years, 6,000 native trees and 6,000 square metres of native cover crops have been planted, bees are buzzing and pests are controlled.

It’s the first time a sports body has led an environmental restoration of this scale in Aotearoa. It's brought together 46 diverse community and corporate partnerships and an impressive 2,500 volunteers across all age groups, from school pupils to retirement villagers.

This engagement creates direct community connection to the environment, to climate resilience, and to sport. It’s also created opportunities for the people in these groups to connect with one another, and to other sports at the park, not just hockey.

A win for wellbeing, social and physical health, as well as the health of our ecosystems.


Manu Albert, NZ Rugby

New Zealand Rugby’s values are centred on The Rugby Way — Te Ara Ranga Tira, which aims to weave individuals together for greater strength and wellbeing. It would be hard to find a better personification of these values than Manu Albert.

Manu is an innovative leader in the New Zealand Rugby Community team and is making a wide-reaching difference as the code’s Injury Prevention Programme Manager.

Manu’s work directly improves the wellbeing of hundreds of thousands of New Zealanders. The recent multi-code agreement to introduce mandatory 21-day concussion standdowns in community sport, and updated ACC national guidelines, was largely anchored on the work of Manu and her team. Another success has been the global uptake of instrumented mouthguards — a world-leading collaborative project.

Manu actively seeks out ways to understand her own leadership strengths, and areas for improvement. She also empowers her team with dedicated self-reflection tools and professional development opportunities. Manu has a knack of growing into increasingly challenging leadership roles, and it starts with clear vision, drive, and self-awareness.


Jennah Wootten

After an action-packed decade, Jennah Wootten’s career is nothing short of inspiring.

Jennah’s roles have included Chief Executive of the World Masters Games 2017 and Directorship of Cricket 2021 Limited where she was in charge of delivering the ICC Women’s Cricket World Cup in New Zealand. Jennah also played a leading role in delivering Auckland’s Rugby World Cup 2011 programme with ATEED, as well as the FIFA U-20 Men’s World Cup bid as Major Events Manager for Auckland City Council.

Jennah is now drawing on all her experience for the benefit of thousands of Aucklanders as CEO of Aktive — Auckland’s sport and recreation charitable trust and Deputy Chair of Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, the region’s economic development agency.

Jennah has a willingness to get stuck in from either side of the board table. Adept at the hard skills of financial planning, she also brings the essential soft skills of collaboration and collective action, and her results tell that story.


Grant Sharman MNZM – Services to the Disability Sports Sector

Veronica Thompson – Services to Basketball and Sports Administration

Kevin Bailey – Services to Rugby League

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