Tonight Surf Life Saving New Zealand celebrated the outstanding commitment and heroic actions of its most elite lifeguards by announcing the winners of this year's Awards of Excellence at Wellington's Amora Hotel.
Surf Life Saving New Zealand CEO Paul Dalton says it takes a lot of commitment to be a lifeguard and the awards presented this evening are proof of that.
The three big awards are NZ Lottery Grants Board Lifeguard of the Year, DHL Volunteer of the Year and the BP Surf Rescue of the Year.
Lifeguard of the Year was awarded to Adam Fraser from Fitzroy Surf Life Saving Club. The Lifeguard of the Year award is the pinnacle of surf lifesaving in New Zealand and highlights the skill, experience and dedication Adam has given to making his local beach safer.
Adam, who is currently away with the NZ Kayak Marathon team in Copenhagen paddling in the world marathon championship, was not available to accept the prestigious award. His father Ross, Fitzroy Surf Life Saving Club member and life member of the Taranaki district, proudly accepted the award on Adam's behalf.
Mr Dalton says as Lifeguard of the Year, Adam embodies everything it takes to be an exemplary volunteer surf lifeguard. "He has commitment, passion and an unswerving dedication to Surf Life Saving. Adam has been a great role model for the young lifeguards of Fitzroy and Taranaki and has led by example. He is passionate about surf lifesaving and it's this passion that he has passed on to the next generation of lifeguards," he says.
DHL Volunteer of the Year was awarded to Mike Tames from Whangamata Surf Life Saving Club. Mike's contribution to surf lifesaving is difficult to capture in one place. "He is one of a kind and is making a positive contribution to every aspect of surf lifesaving as a volunteer," says Mr Dalton.
DHL Coach of the Year was awarded to Scott Bartlett (Omanu) who was the National Coach for the entire successful 2012 campaign, culminating in the New Zealand team winning the Lifesaving World Championships (Rescue 2012) for only the second time ever.
DHL Surf Official of the Year was awarded to Ross Merrett (Papamoa) who is a strong advocate of safety and the running of events for the benefit of athletes.
DHL Express New Zealand Country Manager Tim Baxter says this year DHL celebrates its tenth year of supporting Surf Life Saving New Zealand. "Our organisations share the common values of commitment, competitive spirit and passion and we're pleased to work with SLSNZ to deliver safer beaches around the nation. It is the people who make SLSNZ so unique. Great Kiwi men and women who volunteer their time to ensure the safety of our beaches. DHL is very proud to recognise those exceptional individuals who have gone over and above as an official, a coach or volunteer," he says.
Clubs across the country enter their most prominent rescues and they are judged against each other for BP Surf Rescue of the Year. A mass rescue of 10 rock fisherman at Easter weekend by lifeguards at Sunset Beach was named this year's winner.
The rescue took four hours from the first observation of the fisherman to completion of the mission. The lifeguards involved demonstrated great skill in a rescue which involved extremely dangerous conditions. Had it not been a patrol day, the outcome could have been very different with potentially 10 people drowning.
Also awarded tonight was the BP Media Award for best surf lifesaving story. All organisations need media profile and none more so than not for profit organisations like Surf Life Saving. Adrien Taylor's winning story, 'What to do when you're caught in a rip,' educates viewers on how to escape one. It aired on TV3's Firstline on January 29.
BP Managing Director Matt Elliott says BP's partnership with Surf Life Saving New Zealand is heading towards 50 years and their constant delivery of excellence has been a factor in all of those years and is truly inspirational. "As Kiwi's, the ocean has always been part of our DNA and having an organisation like Surf Life Saving New Zealand keeping our beaches safe is reassuring for all New Zealanders. It's fantastic that their excellent achievements are being acknowledged and BP is really proud to be part of that," he says.
As a wonderful advocate for all aspects of surf lifesaving and beach safety, Palmerston North Surf Life Saving Club's David Pontin was awarded Instructor of the Year and International Sport Performance of the Year went to the New Zealand Black Fins team who took the title of Rescue 2012 World Champs for the first time in 14 years.
The Gudsell Trophy, awarded to the club with the highest number of Surf Lifeguard Awards gained, went to Mairangi Bay Surf Life Saving Club who qualified 59 Surf Lifeguard Awards in the 2012/13 season.
The London Trophy, awarded to the club with the highest number of Surf Lifeguard Awards gained as a ratio of membership, went to Kotuku Surf Life Saving Club.
23 September 2013, NZ's best lifeguard takes on world at kayaking, Taranaki Daily News