New Zealand Recreation Award Winners 2022

On Thursday 24 November in Whakatū/Nelson, Recreation Aotearoa celebrated some of the best and brightest in the New Zealand recreation industry with the 2022 Recreation Awards.

The ceremony, held at Rutherford Hotel, marked the first time since 2019 that the awards were able to be held in person. Over 200 gathered at the hotel to celebrate the winners and their impressive contributions to New Zealand’s wider recreation and wellbeing industry.

“It is an honour and a privilege to acknowledge the amazing mahi being done by groups and individuals within the recreation sector across Aotearoa. Every year our industry moves from strength to strength, continually highlighting the value recreation and activation brings to our communities,” said Recreation Aotearoa CEO, Andrew Leslie.

“This year we had such a high calibre of nominations, and we were incredibly proud to see a strong focus on bi-culturalism, diversity and inclusion, and sustainability. The recreation sector stands in good stead.”

The Recreation Awards coincide with the national Recreation Conference, the flagship conference for New Zealand’s recreation professionals. This year’s conference was themed around ‘Oranga Taiao – Thriving Environments and Oranga Hapori – Thriving Communities’ and featured experts across disciplines including te ao Māori, community planning, sustainability, and youth engagement.

Recreation Aotearoa presented awards across eleven categories, including the Emerging Recreation Leader of the Year and the Outdoors Manu Kura/Supreme Award. A full list of winners can be found below.

The 2022 New Zealand Recreation Award Winners are:


Waimakariri District Council, Regeneration Kaiapoi

The Regeneration Kaiapoi project piloted a vision-based approach to turn the earthquake-damaged and red-zoned land into vibrant, new spaces for community connection and recreation opportunities. Waimakariri District Council worked with the local community and iwi partners to redevelop and revamp what was lost to the Canterbury earthquakes.

Merit Awards were also presented to Whanganui District Council for Drews Avenue Innovating Streets, and to the Tūpuna Maunga Authority Tracks programme.


Whanganui District Council, Lights on Bikes and Drews Ave Street Party

Lights on Bikes was a bicycle light parade and street party celebrating the opening of a new community co-designed streetscape prioritising pedestrians and cyclists. The event was designed to get the community out and moving, using alternative modes of transport, and interacting with the new street features of Drews Ave.

A merit award was also presented to Hamilton City Council and Waikato District Council for the Dirty Dog Challenge event.


Auckland City Council, Ambury Regional Park

A multi-year Green Flag Award winning park, Ambury is an urban park that successfully balances the protection of significant natural and cultural sites with the increasing pressure of urbanisation. Ambury visitors a diverse range of recreation opportunities such as walking, mountain biking, picnicking, camping and education, as well as a number of annual formal events.


Christchurch City Council, Te Pou Toetoe/Linwood Pool

Te Pou Toetoe opened in late 2021, after a long campaign from the Linwood and Woolston community. This pool prioritises minimising barriers and includes New Zealand’s first, purpose built, all season manu pool.


Bay Venues, Funky Fun Day

Funky Fun Day is a school programme targeted at Year 1 to 4 students in the wider Bay of Plenty region. Held over two weeks in each school term, Funky Fun Day introduces tamariki to a range of sports and recreation activities – such as badminton, tenpin bowling and floor ball. The aim is for the children to give


RSL Consultancy, Sport Northland, and regional partners, Te Tai Tokerau Regional Planning for Play, Active Recreation, and Sport

This planning work was a joint effort between RSL Consultancy, Sport Northland, Sport NZ, Northland Sports Coalition, Te Kahu O Taonui, Northland Regional Council, Whangarei District Council, Kaipara District Council, and Far North District Council. Through extensive research, community engagement, outreach, and collaboration this regional strategy prioritises the needs and aspirations of the communities it seeks to serves.


Mike Elkington (Whenua Iti)

The Supreme Award recognises an individual with mana in the outdoor sector who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in outdoor recreation.

Mike Elkington is lead kaiako Māori at Whenua Iti Outdoors. Mike’s passion lies in uplifting the mana of tamariki and rangatahi, in particular, rangatahi Māori, teaching them that it’s not just ‘okay’ to be Māori, but that its ‘exceptional’ to be Māori and to be proud of their whakapapa.


Lynden Noakes (CLM)

Lynden has been in the industry for 20+ years and is the current manager of the CLM Lido Aquatic Centre in Palmerston North. He exemplifies the qualities of a great facility manager and is highly regarded by his colleagues and wider community.

He has gone from strength to strength throughout their career and was instrumental in developing one of New Zealand’s biggest after school and holiday programmes. Lynden is a great advocate of professional development and is always actively encouraging his team to progress and grow.


Mace Ward (Auckland Council)

Mace has had a long and successful career in the parks and recreation industry, spanning over 40 years. He has been influential in leading, modernising, growing, and promoting the key role and value of the parks, open spaces, and cultural landscapes across Auckland. Mace is a highly motivated and experienced leader who can develop, navigate, and drive strategy in a dynamic environment.


Abbe Banks (Gisborne District Council)

Abbe works in the recreation facilities space. She has a deep understanding of the needs in the sport and recreation sectors and has never shied away from challenging traditional models of operating. Abbe has galvanised partnerships and worked tirelessly to modernise and unify the sector around the provision of public facilities. She is passionate about sustainability and championing te ao Māori in the workplace. As a core member of her community, Abbe’s mahi blends in and out of work, frequently going above and beyond to support a range of volunteer driven recreation and sport organisations.


Geoff Canham

Catriona McBean

Gareth Moore-Jones

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