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NZRA Awards recognise best and brightest in recreation

NZRA Awards recognise best and brightest in recreation
November 27, 2014

The New Zealand recreation industry’s most innovative and inspiring individuals and organisations were recognised at the New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) Awards, held in Christchurch yesterday evening (27th November).

NZRA Chief Executive Andrew Leslie says the awards recognise those who make a positive difference in the lives of New Zealanders every day, and are a highlight for the industry.

Leslie stated “it’s uplifting to see the amazing things that are happening in recreation across the country, more often than not without the recognition they deserve. This year’s winners exemplify the diversity of our sector, and the passion, talent and hard work that drives it."

This year’s award winners include the Mount Albert Community and Recreation Centre in Auckland, which received the Outstanding Facility Award for its innovative approach to catering for people of all ages, genders and ethnic groups.

Further south, the community-led South Coast Kids Track mountain bike track picked up the Outstanding Project Award, together with the William Nelson Park and Skatepark in Hastings. The South Island also featured, with the Christchurch-based Active Children and Canterbury Student Representative Programme both picking up Merit awards in the Outstanding Community Recreation Programme category.

Leslie says the number and quality of nominations this year were pleasing and the Awards Committee had a difficult job in deciding on the winners, as evidenced by multiple winners or merit awards in two of the award categories.

However, he encourages more people and organisations to consider putting themselves forward for next year’s awards, adding "we, as an industry, have a lot to celebrate and a lot we can learn from each other. 

"So many outstanding nominees do not put themselves forward, so we don’t ever hear about some of the great work that is happening in our communities.”

The Awards Dinner was held at the Air Force Museum in Wigram, as part of NZRA’s National Conference being held in Christchurch this week.

2014 NZRA Award Winners

Outstanding Project
To recognise excellence, innovation and effectiveness in the provision of a recreation and leisure project.
Joint winners: South Coast Kids Track, Wellington Mountain Bike Club; and William Nelson Park and Skatepark, Hastings District Council
The South Coast Kids Track was developed by the Island Bay community, for the community. The development of the children’s beginner mountain bike track was led by a group of parents that wanted somewhere local and easily accessible for their kids to ride off-road. The track is a community asset that families will enjoy using for years to come. It is a project that embraces the Wellington City Council’s vision for the city and provides locals and visitors with a place for fun and recreation.

The William Nelson Park and Skatepark is an exciting multi-use recreation hub in the heart of Hastings, billed as one of the best skate facilities in New Zealand. The creation of this open-space was characterised by a thorough planning process that put the community at the centre of decision-making. Widespread consultation with stakeholders and the public, the use of social media as a people-connecting tool, the employing of top-flight designers from the outset, and the willingness to follow an iterative process has led to the creation of this popular urban space.
Outstanding Event
To recognise an outstanding one-off or annual recreation festival or event.
Winner: TSB Bank Festival of Lights, New Plymouth District Council
This iconic annual Taranaki event provides an opportunity for the community to come together and enjoy the natural beauty of Pukekura Park, one of the most outstanding inner city open spaces in New Zealand. It is New Zealand’s longest running light-based festival and celebrated 60 years in 2013/14. The festival runs for six weeks every December/January, attracts 100,000 people and consists of lighting displays and feature installations, nightly on-stage entertainment and a daytime activities and events programme.

Outstanding Community Recreation Programme
To recognise excellence, innovation and effectiveness in the provision of a community recreation programme.
Winner: Kiwisport Fundamental Movement Skills, Hutt City Council

KiwiSport is a government funded initiative to support sport for school-aged children. The KiwiSport Regional Partnership Fund encourages schools, clubs and community organisations to collaborate in increasing opportunities for organised sport. The Wellington region Kiwisport consultation identified a need for improvements in basic or fundamental skills for primary-aged children and to provide better quality opportunities for those children. This project aims to provide a skills base, rather than skills specific to each sport, which then provide a foundation for all physical activity.

Highly Commended (Merit): Active Children, Tiddlers Multisport Trust (Christchurch)
Highly Commended (Merit): Canterbury Student Representative Programme, NZRA Top of the South/Canterbury Regional Committee in association with Lincoln University

Outstanding Facility
To recognise excellence, innovation and effectiveness in the provision of a facility.
Mount Albert Community and Recreation Centre, YMCA Auckland
The Mt Albert Community and Recreation Centre (pictured above) is a hub for community arts, culture and active recreation, offering extensive delivery of programmes that include a number of outreach locations. The facility offers a diverse range of structured and unstructured activity utilising the facility, a local park and other outreach venues to cater for all ages, gender and ethnic groups. The diversity of programme options and locations, combined with an extensive community engagement strategy ensures that Mt Albert Recreation Centre is best fulfilling the needs of the local community. The Mt Albert Community and Recreation Centre, and YMCA Auckland, provide the core innovation, community engagement, excellence, achievement, efficiency and sustainability.

Mark Mitchell Memorial Trophy
To recognise excellence and outstanding personal contribution to the recreation industry.
John Latimer
John (pictured below) has a broad range of experience in community recreation, gained over 35 years working at a community level through to senior management, inside local government, in both the community and private sectors, and across a diverse range of facilities and programmes. He has also worked in a variety of volunteer roles with community and national organisations. John founded Community Leisure Management (CLM) with Joe Griffin 18 years ago and has sat on a large number of Boards within the recreation industry. His long-standing contribution to NZRA began with his involvement in the Central Region Advisory Committee. This was followed by a place on the NZRA Board and six years as President, during which time NZRA went from strength to strength.

For more information about NZRA, the National Conference or the NZRA Awards, visit


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