NZRA Awards 2016

The New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) believes recreation creates great New Zealanders. People who are healthy and well connected to their communities and the environment grow up with the opportunity to pursue their dreams and make lasting contributions to society. The recreation industry encompasses the people, places and organisations that enable these experiences to occur and the NZRA Awards honour the people who are integral to making New Zealand a world leader in recreation.

The judging panel were pleased to see not only an increase in the number of nominations this year, but also in the overall quality. This made deliberations challenging but very exciting.

The 2016 award winners span the length and breadth of New Zealand and represent the quality recreation opportunities available. The Outstanding Project award was given to Opus International Consultants Ltd for the design of the Tākaro ā Poi Margaret Mahy Family Playground in Christchurch, a particularly innovative playspace that has great engagement with children and has led to a positive economic impact on the post- earthquake CBD.

Richmond Aquatic Centre was the recipient of the Outstanding Pool Award. The judges were impressed with the clever use of digital marketing and saw this as an good example of how an aquatic centre, managed well, can turn a community initially opposed to its cost and construction to one regarding it as an essential community asset.

The Outstanding Community Recreation Programme award recognises programmes that reflect significant community involvement and clearly achieve a community development outcome. The years winner was Harbour Sport’s SportSPasifik Programme. The judges were taken with how they managed to deliver real outcomes for the community on many levels.

The NZRA Awards were presented at an awards dinner held last night at the Millennium Hotel, Queenstown during NZRA's National Conference. A full list of award winners is available below.

Outstanding Project Award

Merit Awards

Gisborne District Council - Oneroa Cycle and Walkway

  • 1km extension of existing river walkway along the beachfront improving access to the coastal environment
  • Strong local cultural elements incorporated into the design
  • Volunteer community contribution to design and construction

The judges were particularly impressed by the contributions made by the community to construct the pathway and the Council for allowing them to do it, thereby ensuring a sense of achievement and ownership by the community.

Western Bay of Plenty District Council - Omokoroa Skate Path

  • 140m long skate path flows through the natural landscape around mature specimen trees
  • Features walls, box tricks, kickers, banked corners, connecting loop path with roll-overs
  • Early community engagement helped with the design and fund raising

Again it was the engagement with the community that impressed the judges and is already leading to plans for future development.


Opus International Consultants Ltd for the design of the Tākaro ā Poi │ Margaret Mahy Family Playground

  • High level of play value and integration of play activities into a wider park setting
  • Extensive consultation with children and use of their ideas in the design
  • Use of vulcanised rubber to artistically resemble a New Zealand topographical map
  • Family park story arc honours all stakeholders involved
  • Pushing the boundaries of challenge and managed risk

The judges felt:

  • particularly innovative playground with great engagement with children both in the design and use
  • has led to a positive economic impact on the post- earthquake CBD.
  • One of the best examples of a nomination seen to date

Outstanding Pool Award Winner

Community Leisure Management - Richmond Aquatic Centre

  • Joint venture between Community Leisure Management and Tasman District Council
  • Innovative programming includes maritime school, stand up paddle boarding, free-diving, dive school, water safety skills, learn to swim and aqua robots
  • Impressive Yardstick results – for higher swim school numbers, Fitness Centre and total admissions per m2 and lower water consumption and staff cost as a % of revenue than the NZ medium
  • Staff actively engaged with the local community supporting local events and fundraising initiatives

The judges were impressed with the clever use of digital marketing and saw this as an good example of how an aquatic centre managed well, can turn a community initially opposed to its cost and construction to one regarding it as an essential community asset.

Outstanding Park Award

Merit Award

Auckland Council and Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei's partnership for Whenua Rangatira

  • Complex yet well-functioning co-management arrangement between Manu Whenua and Local Government of the reserve a first in Aotearoa
  • Management decisions and activities now align with and respect ‘the cultural and historical heritage of the reserve’
  • Commercially viable hapu based on-site native nursery provides vocational pathways and employment for hapu members
  • Strong whanau engagement in the restoration programme and management of the reserve

A great example of how time spent to work together to understand and respect differing values and attitudes can lead to a great result for all.


Hamilton City Council - Hamilton Gardens

  • The concept of a modern museum or art gallery has been applied to a garden
  • Themed garden collections tell the story of gardens and civilisation and the level of authenticity has been internationally recognised
  • Recognised by Council as strong link to the economic vibrancy of Hamilton and supported accordingly
  • Has held the Qualmark Enviro-Gold Award since 2011 for responsible tourism and sustainable management practices

To the judges this is an eye-catching and fascinating themed garden that has taken this facility from a local asset to both a national and international tourist attraction with positive economic flow-on for the whole community

Outstanding Research, Planning and Policy Award

Merit Award

Hamilton City Council - Hamilton City River Plan

  • Comprehensive strategy to transform the attitudes and uses of the Waikato River to be the defining heart of Hamilton
  • Focus on four principles – people, economic opportunity, healthy river and cultural celebration
  • Range of projects to be delivered by Council over 20 to 30 years in partnership with the community, private sector and philanthropic groups
  • An ambitious and creative plan to incorporate the river as Hamilton’s premier social space, recognising art as an important aspect of the design

The judges saw this as an ambitious and creative plan to incorporate the river as Hamilton’s premier social space recognising art as an important aspect of the design.


Auckland Council & Opus International Consultants Green Infrastructure for Auckland’s Sports Parks

  • Recognises fundamental role green infrastructure plays in sustainable design within sports parks
  • Extensive use of technical and peer reviews throughout the project
  • Tool to consider alternative options to current practice
  • Provides best practice research, guiding principles and actions
  • 3D video provides visual interpretation of a sustainable sports park

The judges were impressed by this forward looking sustainable approach to the maintenance and development of Auckland Sports Parks and how the use of the 3D video brought it alive.

Outstanding Community Recreation Programme Award Winner

Harbour Sport’s SportSPasifik Programme

  • Developed to address specific barriers to participation by Pacific families and their community using multi-disciplinary programmes
  • Culturally relevant programmes for all ages from under five through to older adults
  • Strong focus on family involvement, church groups and local schools
  • Achieves more with less and has grown from one programme in 2013 to six in 2016

The judges were taken with how this programme managed to deliver real outcomes for this community on many levels and how it reminded us how important it is as recreation professionals to understand your community.

Outstanding Recreation Facility Award

Merit Award

YMCA Auckland Camp Adair

  • Strong staff culture and use of Skills Active apprenticeship scheme ensures low staff turnover rate
  • Can accommodate 434 clients over four different villages
  • Tiered pricing reduces barriers to participation
  • Focuses on growing strong communities

The judges were impressed by the way the Camp Adair adhered to the values of the YMCA to make a difference to their customers but also their surrounding community in the Hunua Ranges.


Community Leisure Management - Papakura Leisure Centre

  • Self-sustaining unsubsidised standalone recreation centre
  • Recognised by the community as a family recreation centre
  • Strong partnership with Massey Park Pool
  • Strong marketing mix of traditional and digital
  • Clever cost effective programming recognises low socio-economic mix in the community and achieves 95% usage of its stadium
  • Creative programming not only shows how an older facility can still meet the needs of its community but can respond to a nil subsidy by increasing usage and profitability

Creative programming not only shows how an older facility can still meet the needs of its community but can respond to a nil subsidy by increasing usage and profitability.

Outstanding Event Award

Merit Awards

Auckland Council - Myers Park Centennial Celebrations 2015

  • Opportunity to celebrate centenary of the park and its upgrade as a new destination playground
  • Family friendly event focussing on the history of the park
  • Historical costumes and games incorporated
  • Collaborative approach involving six key council departments, local business association, community board and kindergartens

The efforts made by Council to work collaboratively across Council and with the Community stood out as an example for all to follow. As were the efforts to reinstate a forgotten treasure.

Wellington Council - Wellington Parks Week 2015 & 2016:

  • Community-led free events encouraged and supported
  • Pop-up forest and native plant give-away in Wellington CBD
  • Opportunity to educate the community of the importance of parks and green space for holistic well being
  • Clever social media video promotion most viewed Council video

The innovative Council video and pop-up forest in the CBD impressed the judges and are a must see by other Councils


iSPORT Foundation and Aktive - Auckland Sport and Recreation Organsation - iSPORT Foundation ‘Believe You Can’ Leadership Day

  • Direct involvement of students, teachers/staff and principals from 52% of Auckland secondary schools
  • Live streaming on YouTube to estimated 10,000 more people
  • Participant-centred approach saw student groups put learnings into perspective for their own lives

The use of participant focussed self-reflection made this a worthwhile learning experience for the students involved and the use of technology ensured that many more than just the lucky few that could attend, were able to benefit from it.

NZRA Fellowship Award Winner

This year’s recipient is Chris Rutherford.

  • 40 year commitment to all facets of parks, recreation and community facility management
  • Qualified and experienced arborist
  • Played a key role in the establishment of New Zealand’s first arboricultural training facility
  • Awarded Ian Galloway Memorial Cup in 2007
  • ARPro accredited and a Certified International Parks Professional (World Urban Parks)
  • Strong commitment to the benefits of benchmarking

Mark Mitchell Memorial Trophy - Recognises excellence and outstanding personal contribution to the wider recreation industry

The 2016 winner is Brent Eastwood.

  • 27 year career in the sector
  • Started his career working on the gym floor and now is heading a highly respected and performing organisation
  • Driven by a desire to get Northlanders more active
  • His work in the facility space in Northland has created a remarkable legacy
  • Strong voluntary commitment to a number of sport and recreation organisations at a participation, coaching, administration and governance level
  • His efforts were recognised earlier this year by Sport NZ at their sector conference awards

Paul Stuart Memorial Award - Acknowledges outstanding personal contribution to the facility management industry

This years winner is Rob McGee.

  • A relative youngster with only 10 years in the sector but packed with impressive achievements
  • Key role in transition of staff and different operating models from eight legacy Councils to Auckland Council’s Parks, Sport and Recreation Department
  • Great skills for the development and implementation of both strategy and operational delivery
  • Has a common touch with staff at all levels and ability to easily articulate a vision to inspire those around him
  • Has overseen the free swimming pool entry policy for children under 16 and recently and quite controversially introduced a sugar free drinks policy across Auckland facilities

Ian Galloway Memorial Cup - Recognises outstanding contribution in the Parks, Amenity Horticulture and Open space

This year’s winner is Lance Vervoort.

  • Breadth of experience across amenity/ biosecurity/ parks and recreation/ community facilities for over 30 years
  • Known for making things happen, doing the right thing for his communities and minimising bureaucratic red tape
  • Well respected by elected members and community stakeholders
  • Known for his good negotiating/ people management skills

Emerging Recreation Leader

First presented in 2010 to an individual who demonstrates leadership potential and excels in both paid employment and voluntary service to our sector.

Of all the categories the judges found this one to be the hardest as the calibre of all nominations was high. As a result, they decided that the award would go to 2 people this year:

Jenn Halliday

  • Demonstrated leadership potential during university studies
  • Youngest leader to be selected to attend the Sport Canterbury Leadership in Sport Programme
  • Recently selected for the National Women in Sport Governance Mentoring Programme through Sport NZ
  • Chair of the Generate Network and Director on the Board of World Urban Parks

Tom Mann

  • Complete commitment to professional development
  • Holds senior marketing position developing marketing and advertising material that is fit for purpose and meets varying Council requirements
  • Creative in programme design and active participant in the programmes he associated with
  • Recipient of NZRA Northern Auckland Region scholarship for a new recreation professional in 2013
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