Gisborne/Tairawhiti’s top lifesavers, and the support crews keeping the five local surf lifesaving clubs humming, have been recognised in this year’s Zespri Awards of Excellence.
A function announcing the winners and celebrating the Surf Life Saving year’s achievements was held on Thursday night, July 4, at The Whitehouse restaurant.
Most satisfying of all the achievements are the 25 lives saved in 17 rescues in the last year (July 1 to June 30), says Tairawhiti Club and Member Development Officer Renee Wikaire.
“Every time we bring someone back from a life-threatening situation that’s a huge deal for us – that’s why we’re here, and what we train for,” she says.
“But we are also really proud of all the hard work and volunteer hours by so many people who give so much at our clubs - our lifeguards, administrators, coaches, governance teams, and many more people who support us. And we are very pleased to have our primary regional partner Zespri supporting these awards.”
In the last year Gisborne-Tairawhiti lifeguards carried out 7,633 beach patrol hours, took part in 10 search and rescues, and carried out a huge amount of preventative work, including helping to clear masses of hazardous forestry slash deposits that were dumped on beaches after flooding.
This year’s Volunteer Lifeguard of the Year is Sonia Keepa of Wainui Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC).
Belinda Slement, director of lifeguarding at Wainui SLSC, says Keepa helps with the Junior Surf Nippers programme, event lifeguarding and fitness training sessions. She is a regional beach education supervisor, regional lifeguard supervisor, and junior surf sport committee member.
“Sonia has been an outstanding lifeguard for Wainui and the region. She has continuously put her hand up for any development opportunities and excelled,” says Slement.
“On gaining her IRB drivers award this season Sonia has helped mentor younger lifeguards and assisted with the instruction of the IRB crewperson module. She is a role model to all our younger lifeguards and demonstrates a high level of skill, knowledge, decision-making and leadership skills.”
Sports Team of the Year was the U22 Waikanae SLSC Men’s Crew, who claimed 12 medals out of 14 competition races this year, including 2 golds and a silver placing at the BP New Zealand IRB Championships in Dunedin in April (where they were named the top U22 team); and took 4 gold placings at the BP Surf Rescue North Island Championships at Waihi Beach, in February.
Waikanae SLSC club administrator Clara Wilson says as well as the team’s “impressive” results this year, they also made “exceptional progress” in coaching other team members.
This year’s Innovation of the Year was won by the Gisborne Patrol Relief Group, which was formed to provide on-call patrol support at various locations from Hicks Bay to Midway, and everywhere in between. Already the group has taken part in eight of the ten search and rescues carried out in the area in the last year.
This year’s Rescue of the Year for the area was won by the Character Roofing Gisborne/Tairāwhiti Surf Life Saving Search & Rescue Squad, who won the national Rescue of the Year for December, for rescuing two people from the yacht Mazurka during a fierce storm on Christmas Eve. (More details about the rescue here).
Zespri Gisborne / Tairāwhiti Awards of Excellence 2019
Emerging Coach of the Year: Sonia Keepa
Coach of the Year: Dion Williams
Emerging Official of the Year: Andrew Gaddum
Official of the Year: Debbie Hutchings
Sports Team of the Year: Waikanae U22 Mens IRB Team; Connor Mitchell, Oliver Shivnan, Harry Allan
Sportsperson of the Year, U14 Male: Oska Smith
Sportsperson of the Year, U14 Female: Chloe Kapene
Sportsperson of the Year, U16 Male: Jack Keepa
Sportsperson of the Year, U16 Female: Briana Irving
Sportsperson of the Year, U19 Male: Jordan McLarin
Sportsperson of the Year, U19 Female: Olivia Corrin
Sportsperson of the Year, Open Male: Cory Taylor
Sportsperson of the Year, Open Female: Olivia Corrin
Sportsperson of the Year, Masters Male: Rob Fergus
Sportsperson of the Year, Masters Female: Debbie Hutchings
International Performance, Individual: Cory Taylor
Emerging U19 Volunteer Lifeguard of the Year: Rubi Perano
Volunteer Lifeguard of the Year: Sonia Keepa
Regional Lifeguard of the Year: Steffan John
Patrol Captain of the Year: Rama Robertson
Instructor of the Year: Kerehama Blackman
Beach Education Instructor of the Year: Chris Niven & Fern Stuart
Examiner of the Year: Michelle Mitchell
Innovation of the Year: Gisborne Patrol Relief Group
The Gisborne/Tairawhiti patrol relief squad was formed to provide on-call patrol support at various locations from Hicks Bay to Midway, and everywhere in between.
Volunteer of the Year: Anna Thorpe
Rescue of the Year:
The Character Roofing Gisborne/Tairāwhiti Surf Life Saving Search & Rescue Squad, for a rescue from the yacht Mazurka, on 24 December. (More information about the rescue here).
Patrol Club of the Year: Tolaga Bay Surf Life Saving Club
Zespri Club of the Year: Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club
** File photos for Surf Life Saving New Zealand can be found here.
For more information, please contact:
Renee Wikaire, Tairawhiti Club and Member Development Officer
027 963 9189 email@example.com
Surf Life Saving NZ media and communications
Phone: 021 636 647 firstname.lastname@example.org