Recreation Awards

The Recreation Awards recognise excellence, innovation, and effectiveness of outstanding activity within the recreation sector as well as the achievement and service of individuals whose commitment and contribution promotes the ongoing development and enhancement of the industry.

These prestigious awards have been held annually since 1991, recognising individuals, organisations, programmes, and facilities that have made exceptional contributions to improving recreation and sport for New Zealanders.

2020/2021 Award Winners

Recreation Aotearoa have presented the 2020/2021 Recreation Awards to industry professionals around the country. The awards took place online on 6 April 2022, after two years of delay due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Outstanding Awards were given to the following:

  • Outstanding Project – The winner was Hutt City Council for the development and delivery of Play in the Hutt. A Merit Award was given to Selwyn District Council for the Selwyn Sports Centre.
  • Outstanding Event – The winner was Harakeke Down South for the Murihiku Matariki Festival. Christchurch City Council received a Merit Award for the 2021 Walking Festival.
  • Outstanding Park – The winner was Invercargill City Council’s Queens Park.
  • Outstanding Pool – The winner was Belgravia Leisure’s Trust House Recreation Centre in Masterton.
  • Outstanding Community Recreation Programme -  The winner was Wellington City Council for their LeisureCard. Two Merit Awards were given to Sport Waikato for their This is ME® programme, and Gap Filler for Placemaking at One Central.
  • Outstanding Research, Planning, and Policy – The winner was Invercargill City Council for Our Trees – A Tatou Rākau, their 2020 tree plan.
The recipients of the 2020/2021 Individual Awards were
  • Paul Stuart Memorial Award for services to facility management – Nigel Skelt of ILT Stadium Southland.
  • Ian Galloway Memorial Cup for services to the wider parks industry – Sally Sheedy of Waipā District Council.
  • Mark Mitchell Memorial Trophy for services to the wider recreation industry – Brendon McDermott of Active Southland.
  • Emerging Recreation Leader of the Year – Elise Yule of Xyst.
Richard Lindsay (Recreation Sport & Leisure Consultancy) was made a Recreation Aotearoa Fellow and Jamie Delich became a Life Member.


The 2019 Recreation Awards were presented on 28 November during the Awards Dinner at Recreation Conference, which was in Hamilton 27-29 November.

A full list of 2019 award winners is available below:

  • Outstanding Project Winners - Ngā Puna Wai Sports Hub, Christchurch City Council & Central Energy Trust Wildbase Recovery, Palmerston North City Council & Community
    Merit - Waterworld Hamilton Marjor Renewals Project 2018, Hamilton City Council; Taiora: QEII Recreation & Sports Centre, Christchurch City Council; Te Auanga/Oakley Creek, Auckland Council & Boffa Miskell; Wanaka Pool, Queenstown Lakes District Council

  • Outstanding Park Winner - Shakespear Regional Park, Auckland Council
    Merit - Ahimate Reserve, Palmerston North City Council & Ohakune Carrot Adventure Park, Ruapehu District Council

  • Outstanding Event Winner - Ara Mai! Te Whiti Rise Night Walk, Hutt City Council

  • Outstanding Community Recreation Programme Winner - Ka whakatipū i te whenua ka ora tatou - Cultivate the land and give life to the people, Auckland Teaching Garden Trust & Auckland Council
    Merit - This is Me® Programme, Sport Waikato; AroOra, Community Leisure Management & Playing Palmy Programme, Heather Knox

  • Outstanding Pool Winner - Lido Aquatic Centre, Community Leisure Management

  • Outstanding Research, Policy & Planning Winner - Hamilton City Council's Play Strategy 2019-2030, Hamilton City Council
  • Paul Stuart Memorial Award - Kirsty Knowles, Community Leisure Management

  • Ian Galloway Cup - Mark Bowater, Auckland Council

  • Emerging Recreation Leader - Hannah Chapman-Carr, Auckland Council

  • Mark Mitchell Memorial Trophy - Steve Gibling, University of Canterbury

  • Fellowship Recipients - Jane Aickin (ARPro), Auckland Council & Fay Freeman, Fay Freeman Associates

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