New Zealand’s Top Surf Lifeguards to be Honoured at National Awards

Thursday, 7 September 2023

New Zealand’s top surf lifeguards will be honoured for their achievements and contributions at the Surf Life Saving New Zealand (SLSNZ) Awards of Excellence.


On 23 September, members from around the country will gather at Te Papa in Wellington for the Awards, which will recognise recipients in the areas of lifesaving, sport, and education.


Steve Fisher, SLSNZ Chief Executive Officer, said, “SLSNZ represents 74 surf lifesaving clubs around Aotearoa, from Ahipara in the Far North to Oreti in Southland. These Awards allow us to acknowledge the surf lifeguards who keep watch between the red and yellow flags, as well as all the volunteers who contribute to the organisation’s success but don’t necessarily get their feet wet - from the trainers to assessors, coaches, administrators, and many more.”


During the 2022/2023 season, 4,300 surf lifeguards spent 225,000 hours patrolling more than 80 locations, saving over 1,400 lives.  They also played a pivotal role in the emergency response following severe flooding in Auckland and Cyclone Gabrielle. 


When Cyclone Gabrielle struck Hawke’s Bay, 80 surf lifeguards from various regions responded quickly.  They worked in some of the most severely impacted areas such as Eskdale and Bayview, where they successfully rescued over 200 individuals and aided more people and pets to safety.


Fisher emphasised, “Throughout the 2022/2023 season, our teams faced huge challenges, displaying courage and teamwork that exemplified the finest aspects of the volunteer spirit.  They also showcased their versatility and demonstrated their indispensable role as an emergency service during times of national disaster.”


The National Awards of Excellence are an annual event, with finalists selected from winners of the regional Awards of Excellence held earlier in the year.


Fisher said, “On behalf of SLSNZ, I want to congratulate all our Award finalists who work tirelessly to ensure beachgoers return home to their friends and whānau.  I look forward to celebrating with you all in Wellington.”


Full List of Finalists:


Volunteer of the Year

Victoria Mulrennan – United North Piha Lifeguard Service

Nick McLeay – Onemana Surf Life Saving Club (SLSC)

John Svendsen – Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service

Adam Glenister – Wainui SLSC

Jessica Bennett – Ocean Beach Kiwi SLSC

Francie O’Sullivan – New Plymouth Old Boys SLSC

Karen Simpson-Warren – Paekākāriki Surf Lifeguards

Noah Hosie – Nelson SLSC

Felix Cook – St Kilda SLSC


Lifeguard of the Year

Samantha Larson – Kariaotahi Surf Club

Jack Sewell - Onemana SLSC

John Svendsen - Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service

Ana Naden – Waikanae SLSC

Michael Peterson – Waimārama SLSC

Joe Edwards – Ōpunake SLSC

Nikita Bublitz – Lyall Bay SLSC

Riley Stewart – Spencer Park SLSC

Madelene Ozanne – Warrington SLSC


Rescue of the Year

Sunset Beach SLSC – November 2022

Sunset Beach SLSC – December 2022

Mairangi Bay SLSC – January 2023

Hawke’s Bay SAR Squad – February 2023

Taylors Mistake SLSC – March 2023


Instructor of the Year

Carwyn Thomas – United North Piha Lifeguard Service

Gabriella Hughes – Tairua SLSC

Poppy Crouch – Omanu SLSC

Rama Robertson – Midway SLSC

Lexxie Cunningham – Waimārama SLSC

Hywel Davies – East End SLSC

Isaac van der Vossen – Foxton SLSC

Dean Le Warne – North Beach SLSC

Carla Murray – St Clair SLSC


Patrol Support Officer of the Year

Tamsyn Siggery – Waipu Cove

Sharlene Manukau – Waihi Beach

Wade Meads – Maketu

Glenn Hamblyn – Midway SLSC

Maiah Cudby – Foxton SLSC

Riki Fahey – North Beach SLSC

Gregor Chrystal – St Kilda SLSC


Surf Official of the Year

Johnny Clough – United North Piha Lifeguard Service

Bruce Matheson – Omanu SLSC

Dion Williams – Wainui Surf Life Saving Club

Trina Wills – Waimārama SLSC

Andrew Sorensen – Fitzroy SLSC

Joss Urbahn – Foxton SLSC

Andrea Summerfield – Waikuku Beach SLSC

Kate Jerram – St Kilda SLSC


International Sport Performance of the Year

Danielle McKenzie – Mairangi Bay SLSC

Cory Taylor – Midway SLSC

Madison Kidd – Whangamata

Taylor Shrimpton and Abi Chapman – Sunset Beach SLSC, Open Women’s IRB Crew

Liam McVicar, Christian Donkin, Alex Joyce, Connor Devery, Paul McVicar – Tītahi Bay SLSC, U23 Mens Surf Boat Crew


Coach of the Year

Tom Lowe – Mairangi Bay SLSC

John Bryant – Mount Maunganui Lifeguard Service

Jack Gavin - Midway SLSC

Leonard Kay – Ocean Beach Kiwi SLSC

Joel Meuli – East End SLSC

Tim Marsden – Tītahi Bay SLSC

Malcolm Macdonald – South Brighton SLSC

Rosie Falcous – St Clair SLSC



Event Details

When: 6:30pm, 23 September 2023

Where: Te Papa, Wellington