Surf Life Saving New Zealand celebrates the accomplished and gifted Wāhine in their ranks

Friday, 1 October 2021

Media release

1 October 2021

Surf Life Saving New Zealand celebrates the accomplished and gifted Wāhine in their ranks

The exceptional surf lifesaving Wāhine aren’t just impressive - they’re impossible to miss. Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s 2021 National Awards of Excellence awarded numerous prestigious titles to the women in their ranks.

One of these talented ladies is Phoebe Havill, who received the NZ Lottery Grants Board Lifeguard of the Year Award. A member of Whangamata and Onemana Surf Life Saving Clubs, she is only the second woman to win the award. Phoebe received this distinguished title this year alongside the DHL Instructor of the Year Award. Phoebe’s skills as a leader, instructor, and lifeguard are apparent through her extensive patrols, long list of club responsibilities and development of new surf lifeguard candidates.

Phoebe Havill

Phoebe has helped build further training opportunities for women through the Wāhine on Water programme, established three years ago by herself and three other SLSNZ members. What began as a few training camps to help encourage female involvement in the Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) space has grown into volunteers conducting regular training events for candidates of all ages and skill levels in their own regions. IRB qualifications are crucial to gain senior lifeguarding certifications and positions. “A lot of females can be a bit intimidated and sometimes overlooked in the IRB space. We’re trying to change that,” explains Phoebe. The response has been extremely positive, with those in attendance enjoying the welcoming environment.

Mary Duff of the United North Piha Lifeguard Service (UNPLS) received Patrol Support of the Year. Mary’s win is particularly outstanding as she quickly stepped in as a Patrol Support Officer after two serious shoulder injuries and following seven years as an active lifeguard. Mary wanted to continue working with SLSNZ and soon cemented herself as a club favourite in the position. She is known as a go-to instructor and mentor and contributed almost 80 hours of volunteer patrolling between Raglan SLSC and UNPLS. 

Mary Duff

This year, five out of six inductees to SLSNZ’s acclaimed Sport Hall of Fame are women. The Hall of Fame acknowledges outstanding competitive performances by members of SLSNZ. One of these inductees is Samantha Lee, New Zealand’s most successful surf athlete to attend World Championships. She’s acquired six individual world titles between 2012 and 2016 and set several world records in the process. Steph and Carla Laughton are also admitted for their pioneering work as multi-disciplined female athletes. They’ve demonstrated longevity in their success across competitive sports, having won national and international medals from 2008 until their retirement in 2019. This includes 17 gold IRB medals, one World gold and two World silvers, five Pool Champs golds, two Sand National golds and 30 medalled spots across all disciplines.

Samantha Lee

Likewise, Katie Watts & Emma Crofskey are inducted this year for a long list of spectacular sports performances. The pair landed first equal as the top overall women’s team for the Foxton Shield and went on to hold the title for the next five years - an achievement made by no other women’s crew in the country before. Many of the women inducted to the Hall of Fame this year are extremely active at their respective clubs through patrolling, coaching and mentoring. They are exemplary role models for upcoming generations of surf athletes.

Katie Watts & Emma Crofskey

Another impressive takeaway from the National Awards of Excellence was Joanne Hobson, who received the DHL Volunteer of the Year Award.

SLSNZ depends on its 4,500+ Surf Lifeguard volunteers across the country. Without these volunteers, the necessary work to help improve the safety of beachgoers simply wouldn’t get done. Joanne is a valued member of Sunset Beach Lifeguard Service. From her Chief Instructor, Surf Official, Examiner, Course Facilitator, Emergency Call Out Squad (ECOS) Coordinator and mentorship roles, it's easy to see that she is a well-deserving recipient of this award. 

Joanne Hobson

It’s easy to see there is no shortage of exceptionally gifted and driven surf lifesaving women. Their list of impressive achievements keeps SLSNZ on the lookout for which talented Wāhine will be next to make waves in their area of expertise.