Winners announced for Surf Life Saving New Zealand National Awards of Excellence

Friday, 18 September 2020

Sep 19, 2020

Press Release

Winners announced for Surf Life Saving New Zealand National Awards of Excellence

Dedicated volunteer Surf Lifeguards, officials, instructors, coaches and athletes from across the country have been recognised and celebrated today at the 2020 Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) National Awards of Excellence.

Whangamata SLSC Club Captain, Max Jones, takes home the NZ Lottery Grants Board Lifeguard of the Year Award this year. Jones has contributed 80 hours of patrolling as a volunteer and has been involved in more than 30 rescues, including three search and rescue operations.

The 2020 bp Rescue of the Year Award goes to the SL Kariaotahi Emergency Call Out Squad. This outstanding team of Surf Lifeguards saved three people, including a young child, from a stricken boat on the evening of May 25th, 2019. Without the squad’s skill and fast, efficient pick-up under difficult conditions, it’s almost certain that three lives would have been lost that night.

Taylors Mistake SLSC member Mike Smith is the 2020 DHL Volunteer of the Year. Smith’s contribution to surf lifesaving is difficult to summarise as he’s active at a club, regional and national level. He’s been on the Taylors Mistake committee for 15 years and is the club’s Vice President, and for the past two seasons he's been the club’s Health & Safety Officer. Mike’s influence within surf can be seen from the junior to senior levels, and from club through to national.

Ian Robinson QSM of Waihi Beach LS has become a Life Member in honour of his 67 years’ as a dedicated and highly active member. Robinson joined Waihi Beach LS in 1957 and received a Queens Service Medal in the 2020 Queen’s Birthday Honours list for ‘Services to Surf Life Saving and the community’.

To view the digital flip book with the full list of awards and recipients (including citations), please visit the SLSNZ website from 6:45pm Sat September 19.

SLSNZ Chief Executive, Paul Dalton, says the charity’s volunteer Surf Lifeguards saved 577 lives and assisted 1,543 people to safety in the 2019/20 season, despite the fact that the season was cut short by Covid-19 lockdown.

“The National Awards of Excellence are an opportunity for us to acknowledge the incredible dedication and skill that our volunteers put into making sure Kiwis make it home safe after a day at the beach. This is a chance for us to say ‘thank you’ and to honour some of the outstanding New Zealanders, from all walks of life, who patrol our beaches and coastlines.”

The SLSNZ Awards of Excellence are held every year in each SLSNZ region to acknowledge and celebrate the many club members putting in considerable time, effort and skills at a grass-roots level to make sure Kiwis who head to the beach get home safe.

The regional awards then culminate in the National Awards of Excellence, which were held online this year due to Covid-19 restrictions.


National Awards of Excellence 2020 Winners




NZ Lottery Grants Board Lifeguard of the Year Award

  • Max Jones, Whangamata SLSC

Gudsell Trophy

  • Red Beach SLSC

London Trophy

  • Nelson SLSC


bp Media Award

  • Seven Sharp & Lucas de Jong: Excellence in Public Education on How to Survive a Rip Current

bp Rescue of the Year Award

  • SLS Kariaotahi Emergency Call Out Squad




Surf Official of the Year

  • Greg Rieger, Mt Maunganui LS

Coach of the Year

  • Dion Williams, Wainui SLSC


International Sport Performance of the Year

  • Danielle McKenzie, Mairangi Bay SLSC


  • Brighton SLSC: Alex Sutherland
  • Kariaotahi: Bradley Walters, Dean Lawrence & Tara Coe
  • Lyall Bay SLSC: Matt Flannery
  • Mairangi Bay SLSC: Danny Morrison & Tony Sands
  • Nelson SLSC: Aaron Lyttle, Noah Hosie & Stuart Edens
  • Omanu Beach SLSC: Donal Boyle
  • Onemana SLSC: Kevin Thorburn
  • Orewa SLSC: Steve Franich
  • Otaki SLSC: Justine Fleming & Kirsty Doyle
  • Paekakariki SL: Amy Spiekerman, David Jones, Dwight Garton & Natasha Perkins
  • Rarangi SLSC: Brendon Ferguson & Neil Watts
  • Red Beach SLSC: Debra Cairns, Dylan Turner & Robyn Presland
  • St Clair SLSC: Chris Haig
  • Steph Laughton - St Clair SLSC
  • St Kilda SLSC: Cam Third & Max Corboy
  • Taylors Mistake SLSC: Craig Jamieson & Patrice de Beer
  • Waihi Beach LS: David Grant, David Litton & James Lloyd
  • Waimairi SLSC: Mike Litten
  • Wainui SLSC: Belinda Slement & Jeremy Lockwood
  • Wanganui SLS: James Newell
  • Westshore SLSC: Kevin Russell, Taylor Dick & Trina Wills



  • Pacific SLSC: Denys Carpenter (also a member at Paekakariki SL)
  • Paekakariki SL: Denys Carpenter (also a member at Pacific SLSC) & Ross Harvey
  • Piha SLSC: David Anderson, Gary Bray, George Thompson, Graham Mauger, John Dallimore, Mike Wood, Nick Kinghorn, Owen Sharpe, Robert Collis, Tony Johnston & Warren Smith
  • Red Beach SLSC: Graeme Danks
  • Taylors Mistake SLSC: David Bradley, Malcolm McClurg
  • Waimarama SLSC: Graeme Ward


  • Ben Flynn, Paekakariki SLSC
  • Graeme Ward, Waimarama SLSC
  • Mike Smith, Taylors Mistake SLSC



  • Ian Robinson QSM, Waihi Beach LS



Instructor of the Year

  • Sonia Keepa, Wainui SLSC

Volunteer of the Year

  • Mike Smith, Taylors Mistake SLSC

Innovation of the Year

  • SLS Kariaotahi


For more information please contact:


Mackenzie Koppel

Media & Communications Manager

Phone 021 757 433