Recreation Aotearoa CEO receives leadership award

Recreation Aotearoa CEO Andrew Leslie was awarded the prestigious C.K Doig Leadership Award this week at the NZ Sport & Recreation Awards.

The award is given to an individual in the sport and recreation sector who displays outstanding leadership in relation to their organisation or the sector as a whole.

In his acceptance speech, Mr Leslie said "I thank the Doig whanau for this amazing koha. I am honoured and excited. There are so many people to thank during what has been a very difficult year for me following my accident, but in particular I'd like to acknowledge my whānau for providing the love I needed through the dark times."

"Also a massive thanks to the wonderful team at Recreation Aotearoa, especially Tracey Prince-Puketapu who stepped into the CE role in my absence, and to my Chairman Mark Bowater and the rest of the Board for their support. The launch of our new bi-cultural strategy is a career highlight for me and I'd like to thank Bobbi Clark-Heu and the amazing roopu that is Te Kāhui Kura Māori for sharing their knowledge with us."

Judges said "Andrew is known for his commitment to innovation as a leader, and this trait is clear in his unique approach to the development of people within the recreation environment. He spearheaded the initial vision of offering the Atua Matua programme to the recreation sector, an initiative dedicated to learning from the environment, and recreation in Aotearoa, from a Maori perspective."

"Navigating through the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 was hard enough for most. However, for this individual, it showed just how resilience can be personified. As the country moved into national lockdown, he was seriously injured in a mountain bike accident and found himself in ICU where he was told he would never walk again. Determined to prove the diagnosis wrong, after four months in rehab, he not only walked, but learned to run and bike again. It is a testament to his leadership style that in his absence, the staff of his organisation were able to lead the organisation through the difficult and troubled times."

"Since his accident, he has been instrumental in working with the Department of Conservation to make tracks more accessible for disabled people - an example of his selfless passion to ensuring more people can be physically active in the way they choose."

The team at Recreation Aotearoa are incredibly proud of Andrew. Aquatics Programme Manager and Team Leader, Tracey Prince-Puketapu said "Andrew really deserves this award! He is constantly pushing the boundaries and always advocating for the recreation sector."

Photography courtesy of Photosport

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