Surf Life Saving New Zealand Announces Winners of Taranaki Awards of Excellence

Tuesday, 6 June 2023

Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) is proud to announce the winners of its Taranaki Awards of Excellence for the 2022/23 season.  These individuals have made significant contributions and demonstrated unwavering dedication to their roles within SLSNZ.


Joe Edwards from Ōpunake Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC), took home the Lifeguard of the Year Award.  During the season, Edwards demonstrated his dedication to fostering future surf lifeguards, training the next generation of inflatable rescue boat (IRB) drivers, serving as a crewperson and imparting valuable knowledge.  He always put his hand up to help with event guarding for events and helped others navigate new patrolling apps.


Edwards’ tireless efforts extended beyond the beach, as he diligently maintained IRB motors, and kept the shed clean and organised. He also developed as an individual, completing a number of modules, including his Senior Lifeguard Award for IRB drivers and Patrol Captain.


Michael Debique, Ōpunake Surf Lifeguard Manager, said, “Joe has a happy nature which helps when leading a team.  He has the ability to get the best out of his patrol and the interaction he has with the public is an asset when talking to or moving them to a safe place to swim.”


Francie O’Sullivan, from New Plymouth Old Boys SLSC, was honoured with the Volunteer of the Year Award.  Throughout the Junior Surf Season, O’Sullivan assisted with water safety for the Oceans Squad during their rigorous training, which involved three to five sessions per week.  She also served as a surf lifeguard during Sunday Junior Surf Sessions, seamlessly transitioning between age groups and providing assistance. 


O’Sullivan’s unwavering support extended beyond the club, as she travelled to Oceans ’23 Junior Surf Lifesaving Festival to assist as a surf lifeguard.  She played a crucial role in the warm-up sessions, offering guidance and being a positive role model for young competitors experiencing their first Oceans competition.


Joe Collins, representing Fitzroy SLSC, was crowned Sportsperson of the Year for his outstanding achievements.  Collins’ remarkable accomplishments included securing bronze in the Australian Nutri Grain Ironman series overall rankings.


He also took out 2nd place in Board Rescue and 1st place in Surf Teams at the Australian Surf Life Saving Championships, and at the TSB New Zealand Surf Lifesaving Championships, Collins emerged victorious, claiming 1st place in Open Male Board, Ski, and Ironman categories.  His dedication and skill made him a formidable force.


Charlie Cordwell, SLSNZ Central Region Manager, said, “Congratulations to all the winners.  I can’t thank them enough for their invaluable contributions to surf lifesaving.  Their passion, dedication, and commitment are an inspiration to all members of the SLSNZ community.


The Taranaki awards brought together members from Ōpunake SLSC, New Plymouth Old Boys SLSC, East End SLSC, Wanganui SLSC, and Fitzroy SLSC.


The SLSNZ National Awards of Excellence will take place on 23rd September at Te Papa in Wellington.


NOTE:  This media release is subject to a strict embargo until 3 June, 2023.  The Awards will be held on the night of 2 June, 2023.  No part of this release should be published, distributed, or shared in any form prior to the specified embargo date.



For More Information Please Contact:

Charlie Cordwell – SLSNZ Central Region Manager

027 557 1015



Full List of Winners:


Senior Team of the Year

East End Open Female Pool Rescue Relay Team


Junior Team of the Year

East End U17 Male Relay Team


Taranaki Team of the Year

East End Open Female Pool Rescue Relay Team


Sportsperson of the Year

Joe Collins – Fitzroy SLSC


Senior Sportsman of the Year

Joe Collins – Fitzroy SLSC


Valda Walsh Cup - Senior Sportswoman of the Year

Jordan Grylls – Ōpunake SLSC


Junior Sportsman of the Year

Daniel Callebaut - East End SLSC


Junior Sportswoman of the Year

Tara Shotter - East End SLSC


Official of the Year

Andrew Sorensen – Fitzroy SLSC


Instructor of the Year

Hywel Davies - East End SLSC


Beryl Glentworth Trophy - Rescue of the Year

Taranaki SAR Squad


Wendy Snowden Memorial Trophy - Lifeguard of the Year

Joe Edwards – Ōpunake SLSC


Peter Steffenson Trophy - Coach of the Year

Joel Meuli - East End SLSC


Michael Taylor Trophy

Ben Nelson – New Plymouth Old Boys


James Hunt Memorial - Volunteer of the Year

Francie O'Sullivan – New Plymouth Old Boys


Dewar Whiskey Cup - Season Interclub Aggregate

East End SLSC


Innovation of the Year

East End Junior Skills Development Programme


Club of the Year

Ōpunake SLSC



About Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ)
SLSNZ represents 74 Surf Lifesaving clubs with 18,000+ members, including more than 4,500 volunteer surf lifeguards. Our surf lifeguards patrol over 90 locations each summer, saving hundreds of lives each year, and ensuring thousands return home safe after a day at the beach. Our volunteer search and rescue squads provide emergency call-out rescue services throughout the year across Aotearoa.  We do all this as a charity and rely on the generosity of the public, commercial partners, foundations and trusts for donations and financial contributions.