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

Monday, 15 May 2023

The winners for Surf Life Saving New Zealand’s (SLSNZ) Canterbury Awards of Excellence, which recognises the outstanding achievements and contributions within the Surf Lifesaving community, have been announced.


Riley Stewart from Spencer Park Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC) took home the esteemed Lifeguard of the Year Award.


Stewart, who is a Patrol Captain, Inflatable Rescue Boat (IRB) Driver and co-ordinator for the Search and Rescue Squad at Spencer Park SLSC, has exhibited exemplary dedication and expertise.  His commitment to personal growth was evident through the completion of numerous awards during the 2022/23 season.  His mentorship at the Canterbury Intermediate Lifeguard School was also invaluable to aspiring Surf Lifeguards.


Linda Poulsen, Lifeguard Manager at Spencer Park SLSC, said, “If only we could clone a few more Riley’s into our teams, then we could all take a back seat.  He is definitely a very valued member of the whole Spencer Park community, and we hope to keep him on forever.  He has already offered to join the committee, so the future is bright for our club with guys like Riley.”


Stewart also played a pivotal role in a challenging rescue, which resulted in one fatality.  The leadership and care Stewart showed during this ordeal was exemplary.


That rescue, by Spencer Park SLSC, won the Rescue of the Year Award.  On Saturday 13th November a Surf Lifeguard on duty noticed a man in distress.  After radioing the base, the Surf Lifeguard swam towards the patient with a rescue tube, braving very tough conditions.  An IRB was also launched.  Despite their collective strength, three Surf Lifeguards were unable to pull the man into the IRB due to his extremely large-size.


After several attempts the Surf Lifeguards put two tubes around the man and swam him safely to shore.  Unfortunately, the situation deteriorated upon reaching the beach, and the man lost consciousness, and later died.  The challenging nature of the rescue shows the remarkable skills and bravery of the Surf Lifeguards involved.


Reflecting on the incident, Poulsen said, “There was a large number of Surf Lifeguards involved and one on her very first patrol.  This day, and the weeks and months that followed was challenging in supporting those who had not been involved in anything like this before.  I remain in admiration for the way in which they conducted themselves and the way in which they dealt with it.”


Noah Hosie from Nelson SLSC was honoured with the Volunteer of the Year Award.  Hosie has been involved with the club for more than 30 years and during that time has competed in Surf Sport, raced IRBs, become an IRB instructor and examiner, and has been instrumental in the Search and Rescue squads.  Currently holding the positions of Patrol Captain and Club President, Hosie’s dedication to Surf Lifesaving has been unwavering.  Nelson SLSC Committee Member Mary Seelen, said, “We can’t think of anyone more deserving of being recognised for all his mahi and passion for seeing Surf Life Saving thrive in Nelson”.


Malcolm MacDonald from South Brighton SLSC was awarded Coach of the Year for his exceptional work in developing a highly talented group of beach athletes.  Under his guidance, the South Brighton beach programme achieved outstanding results during the season.  The team’s remarkable performance included securing three gold, four silver and three bronze medals at the TSB New Zealand Surf Lifesaving Championships.  Notably, the club’s Open Male and Open Female Beach Relay teams claimed victory, marking the first time a club has achieved this double feat since the early 1990s.


Bruce Lomax, Chairperson of South Brighton SLSC said, the skill level shown from the team was exceptional. “It was noted that during the heats, semi-finals and finals, the South Brighton Beach Relay Teams, male and female, across all age groups completed 80 batten changers without a single batten being dropped, such was the high level that the teams were coached too”.


SLSNZ Southern Regional Manager Stu Bryce said, “The dedication and exceptional skills demonstrated by the winners at the awards showcase the unwavering commitment of Surf Life Saving Clubs in ensuring the safety of our beaches.  These individuals have gone above and beyond, setting a remarkable example for others to follow.”


The Canterbury Awards of Excellence brought together Surf Life Saving Clubs from Nelson, Rārangi, Buller, Kotuku, Waikuku Beach, Spencer Park, Waimairi, North Beach, New Brighton, South Brighton, Sumner and Taylors Mistake.


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

Full List of Winners:


Surf Official of the Year

Andrea Summerfield – Waikuku Beach


The Shanks Family Event Guard of the Year

Tim Harris – North Beach


Coach of the Year

Malcolm MacDonald – South Brighton


The Allan Lee Team of the Year (three way tie)

South Brighton Open Male Beach Relay

         (Mathieu Reid, George Reid, Morgan Foster, Luca Mackenzie)

South Brighton Open Female Beach Relay

         (Mihiroa Pauling, Ashleigh Archer, Annie O’Neill, Anna Manning)

Taylors Mistake Open Male Board Relay

         (Taylor Chamberlain, Flynn Hamilton, Conor Dempter)

The Leon ‘Flash’ Peters Large Craft Team of the Year

Waimairi Open Male Canoe

         (Carl Righton, Mark Cresswell, Greg Shea, Joshua Edmonds)


Te Onepoto Award for Junior Surf – Coaching

Sjaan Bowie – Sumner


Te Onepoto Award for Junior Surf – Service (tie)

Dean Le Warne – North Beach

Julie Jorgensen – South Brighton


Sportsman of the Year

Taylor Chamberlain – Taylors Mistake


Sportswoman of the Year

Rosie Falcous – South Brighton


V.S.E Trophy Regional Lifeguard of the Year

William Simmons – Sumner


Beach Education Instructor of the Year

Grace Rowland – Taylors Mistake


Instructor/Examiner of the Year

Dean Le Warne – North Beach


Rescue of the Year

Spencer Park SLSC – 13 November 2022


Rookie Lifeguard of the Year

Ruby Marshall - Rārangi


Emerging Lifeguard of the Year

Lochie Ellison – Sumner


Patrol Support of the Year

Riki Fahey – North Beach


Lifeguard of the Year

Riley Stewart – Spencer Park


Volunteer of the Year

Noah Hosie – Nelson


Patrol Club of the Year

Nelson SLSC


Club of the Year

North Beach SLSC