Surf Life Saving New Zealand Announces Winners of Capital Coast Awards of Excellence

Monday, 29 May 2023

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


Nikita Bublitz from Lyall Bay Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC), took home the Lifeguard of the Year Award.  Bublitz’s commitment to volunteering and paid lifeguard duties has been outstanding, covering nearly all the patrolled beaches along the Capital Coast.


She is always a patrol captain when on volunteer patrol at Lyall Bay SLSC and is often the designated inflatable rescue boat driver, managing both roles with ease.


Beyond her immediate club, Nikita has fostered strong connections with numerous Capital Coast clubs, generously sharing her knowledge gained from these experiences with her fellow surf lifeguards at Lyall Bay SLSC.


Cam Turchie, Lyall Bay SLSC club captain, said, “Nikita is a great role model and leader within our club, with many of our surf lifeguards and members looking up to her for advice.  She has a great mind-set and she will no doubt do well in the future with Surf Lifesaving.”


Karen Simpson-Warren, from Paekākāriki Surf Lifeguards, was honoured with the Volunteer of the Year Award after dedicating over 15-years of service to the club’s committee.


Recently her efforts were focused on fundraising for the new Paekākāriki clubhouse.  Simpson-Warren has been part of the building committee for 10 years, and in the past three years, she has been part of the fundraising committee.  Her skills in sales and her ability to connect with people have helped the club secure the necessary funds, instilling hope within the community as they look to start building in the next six to 12 months.


Sandra Bednarek, Paekākāriki Surf Lifeguards Treasurer, said, “Karen’s stellar volunteer work over the past year has had a significant impact on our local community. The relationships she has forged with our council and Mayor have significantly raised the profile and image of our club. This relationship has had such a positive impact on our club and surf lifesaving overall.”


Liam Chesney, from Lyall Bay SLSC, was crowned Sportsperson of the Year.  His remarkable achievements in various competitions exemplify his exceptional talent and dedication to Lifesaving Sport.  Notably, Chesney secured an impressive first place in the Open Male 2-kilometre Beach Run at both the Eastern Regional Championships and the TSB New Zealand Surf Lifesaving Championships.  He also achieved outstanding results at the Central Regional Championships, including a second place finish in the Open Male Surf Race and Open Male Run Swim Run, and a third place finish in the Open Male Iron and Open Male Taplin events.


Charlie Cordwell, SLSNZ Central Region Manager, said, “These individuals represent the true spirit of SLSNZ, and their accomplishments inspire us all.  We would like to congratulate them on their well-deserved recognition and their contributions to SLSNZ.”


The Capital Coast awards brought together SLSC’s from across the North Island, including Palmerston North, Riversdale, Foxton, Levin/Waitārere, Ōtaki, Paekākāriki, Titahi Bay, Maranui, Lyall Bay and Worser Bay.


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

Full List of Winners:


Coach of the Year

Tim Marsden – Titahi Bay SLSC


Instructor of the Year

Isaac van der Vossen – Foxton SLSC


Lifeguard of the Year

Nikita Bublitz – Lyall Bay SLSC


Patrol Support Person of the Year

Maiah Cudby – Foxton SLSC


Sports Team of the Year

Titahi Bay SLSC U23 Boat Crew


Sportsperson of the Year

Liam Chesney – Lyall Bay SLSC


Surf Official of the Year

Joss Urbahn – Foxton SLSC


U19 Lifeguard of the Year

Liam Neal – Foxton and Titahi Bay SLSC


U19 Sportsperson of the Year

Alex Cecioni – Paekākāriki Surf Lifeguards


Volunteer of the Year

Karen Simpson-Warren – Paekākāriki Surf Lifeguards


Rescue of the Year

Foxton SLSC


Club of the Year

Ōtaki SLSC 


Central Region Service Awards 2023

Carrie Matson Speirs - Maranui SLSC

Steven Williams - Foxton SLSC


Central Region Distinguished Service Awards 2023

Amy Spiekerman - Paekākāriki SL

Anna McDonnell - Maranui SLSC

Callum McKenzie - Foxton 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.