Eltje Malzbender was named Sportsperson of the Year at Sport Waikato’s 2019 Ingham’s Matamata Piako District Sports Awards on Thursday night for an outstanding year in cycling – winning two gold medals on the international stage in the T1 classification of the UCI Para World Cycling Championships.
Rise and Shine Aerial Fitness Studio won the Innovation in Sport and Recreation award having grown their membership in just six months to 200 members. They are driven by a desire to help women rediscover themselves and their confidence.
Founder of Freestyle MMA Morrinsville Mike Potae picked up the Sporting Personality of the Year award, creating a space that nurtures and strengthens individuals and families as well as creates awesome fighters.
Casey Kopua was awarded the Community Champion Award, recognising her service to netball. During her time playing netball Casey won two national titles, an ANZ Championship, and two Commonwealth Games golds and finally the 2019 World Cup before officially retiring.
Sport Waikato CEO Matthew Cooper was very pleased with the high calibre of nominations, finalists and winners this year.
“What an amazing array of talent we have in the Matamata Piako district – the dedication to their chosen sport is evident. And where would our sportspeople be without the fantastic support of the many talented coaches, administrators, officials and supporters,” Cooper said.
Eligible winners are now considered for the Brian Perry Waikato Regional Sports Awards on Thursday 30th January 2020 at the Claudelands Conference and Event Centre, Hamilton.
2019 winners:

Service to Sport Beverly (Bev) May, Janet Wagstaff, Allen Pryor, Stuart (Stu) Settle, Trevor Lingard
Team of the Year Hinuera Bowls3Five Team
Secondary School Sportswoman Katie-lee Roper
Secondary School Sportsman Ethan Wallace
Emerging Talent Tatiana Kaumoana
Sportsperson of the Year Eltje Malzbender
Administrator of the Year Andrew Gemmell
Official of the Year James Houghton
Coach of the Year Andrew Kilham
Club of the Year United Matamata Sports Inc
Secondary School Contribution to Sport Jessica Pavlovich
Sporting Personality of the Year Mike Potae
Innovation in Recreation and Sport Award Rise & Shine Aerial Fitness Studio
Community Champion Award Casey Kopua
View all photos here
For further information, contact:
Matamata Piako District Coordinator Lou Beer
027 226 5297 or email matapiako@sportwaikato.org.nz
Summary of winners:
Secondary School Contribution to Sport: Jessica Pavlovich
Jess balances coaching and umpiring lacrosse, coaching a competitive gymnastics team and teaching level three dance with her own sport - including achieving the Spirit Award at the Asia Pacific Lacrosse Championships. Jess inspires young people with her passion for sport.
Administrator of the Year: Andrew Gemmell
Andrew is at the forefront of youth rugby, chairing the Thames Valley Youth Management Board and running Te Aroha Junior Rugby. He is a true leader whose contributions and decision making have ensured that junior rugby is strong and sustainable.
Official of the Year: James Houghton
James is a panel two rugby referee, appointed to Premier B division 1 senior games. 2019 saw him debut in the premier competition and he is ranked in the top 15 rugby referees in the province. James is always keen to learn and improve, and his selection to referee at the Chiefs Under 16 tournament will be an excellent opportunity.
Coach of the Year: Andrew Kilham
Volleyball is Andrew’s passion, coaching Matamata College teams, the Waikato Under 15 and Under 19 teams and he has been selected to coach the New Zealand Youth Women’s team and at the New Zealand training camp. Andrew develops great team culture and desire to improve. Five college players have been named in New Zealand representative teams this season.
Secondary School Sportswoman of the Year: Katie-lee Roper
A knee injury set Katie-lee’s 2019 season back, but her committed approach has seen her achieve number three ranking for Under 20s high jump and 4th for Under 20s triple jump.  Competing for New Zealand at the Oceania Polynesian Champs, she won the Under 18s high jump and came third in the 200 metres.
Secondary School Sportsman of the Year: Ethan Wallace
Ethan has focussed on athletics this year, training hard to achieve great results. It paid off with 4th in the 100 metres and bronze in the 200 metres whilst competing for New Zealand at the Oceania Area and Combined event championships in Australia.
Emerging Talent: Tatiana Kaumoana
Tatiana has had a fantastic year achieving discus personal bests. She has represented New Zealand on several occasions including attending the World University Games in Italy. Tatiana won first place at the Under 20s at the Oceania Championships with a throw of 52.91 and placed 4th in the Open Women’s line up.
Sport Personality of the Year: Mike Potae
Mike is the founder of Freestyle MMA Morrinsville and has created a space that nurtures and strengthens individuals and families, as well as creates awesome fighters. As one member said “It is so important for the community to see there are good people out there doing things without the need for recognition”.
Club of the Year: United Matamata Sports Inc
The United Matamata Sport Club covers three codes – rugby, hockey and netball. Each had successful seasons. To make rugby available for 13th grade and colts, they joined forces with Hinuera to ensure teams could be fielded. The codes all work together on budgets and funding, and playing numbers have increased this year.
Team of the Year: Hinuera Bowls3Five Team
In the inaugural Bowls3Five competition, the Hinuera team won the Waikato elimination series and beat the equivalent Bay of Plenty and Wanganui teams to advance to the national final playoffs, winning this to take the national title. This result gave the Hinuera team free entry to a televised league with a $28,000 prize pool.
Sportsperson of the Year: Eltje Malzbender
A never give up attitude and competitive spirit has taken Eltje from the possibility of never walking or talking again to winning two gold medals on the international stage in the T1 classification of the UCI Para World Cycling Championships.
Service to Sport: Beverly (Bev) May, Morrinsville Wheelers Cycling Club
Bev May’s name has been synonymous with cycling for so long that it seemed astounding that she had not already received a Service to Sport award. She has held committee positions since 1970 and has tried out all roles – rider, coach, team manager and commissaire. 
Bev was the first woman to gain a cycling licence to race competitively against men and latterly she has gained status as a UCI commissaire.
She was instrumental in developing the Bev May Women’s Only tour which caters for grassroots through to elite riders, and celebrated its 30th anniversary this year. Bev has fantastic coaching skills and her passion for cycling has seen her give a huge portion of her life to Morrinsville Wheelers who are grateful for all her contributions and her amazing baking!
Service to Sport: Janet Wagstaff, United Matamata Sports Inc
As the physiotherapist for United Matamata Sports, Janet may well be the most valued member of the club - saving many a match by getting people fixed up and back on the pitch or sidelining when the injury warranted rest.
Janet has held this role since 1996 which is testament to how highly she is valued for her empathy, sympathy and wide range of interpersonal skills as well as her professional physiotherapy skills. The club greatly appreciates her loyalty and consistent positive attitude as well as her commitment to attending trainings, tournaments and matches.
Service to Sport: Allen Pryor, United Matamata Sports Inc
Back in 1996, the year that saw Matamata and Waharoa Walton clubs amalgamate, Allen was a rugby player. He has since been a player coach and is currently a player, a coach and has held the position of Club Captain for the past seven years.
Allen is a can-do man and is at the forefront for making things happen at United Matamata Sports. He is also busy in the background liaising with Waikato Rugby, updating job descriptions and reviewing policies. In all aspects he utilises organisational skills, management skills and adds a healthy dose of common sense.
United Matamata Sports is very thankful for all of Allen’s contributions and his skill in ensuring that everything is working in a positive and happy manner.
Service to Sport: Stuart (Stu) Settle, Hinuera Bowling Club
Stu is a loyal bowler, playing for 46 years at Hinuera. He holds around 100 club titles, 32 Waikato Championship titles and one New Zealand title. Unsurprisingly, Stu is passionate about bowls and he freely gives of his time and knowledge, providing advice and guidance that give confidence to new bowlers.
Stu has held committee roles since 1980 including vice president nine times and club president four times. He has been an accredited coach for 33 years and is the current patron of Bowls Waikato. The club is all the richer for his dedication, input and infectious personality.
Service to Sport: Trevor Lingard, Morrinsville Bowling Club
Keeping the bowling greens beautiful at Morrinsville Bowling Club is how Trevor contributes to the club. It sounds simple but Trevor works incredibly hard, utilising his extensive knowledge to give the grass the right treatment at the right time thereby ensuring that the members and visiting players have the best green he can offer. 
It is not just the members of Morrinsville Bowling Club that are thankful for all that Trevor does – all the tournament players and the organisers of Bowls Waikato Regional Championship tournaments have benefited from the great playing conditions that he creates. His hard work was recognised with the Bowls Waikato Greenkeeper of the Year award.
Innovation in Recreation and Sport Award: Rise & Shine Aerial Fitness Studio
Rise and Shine Aerial Fitness Studio is an aerial arts gym, offering Pole Fitness, Aerial Hoops and Yoga plus other classes including kids classes from age six up. Owner Sonja Gardiner has been driven by a desire to help women rediscover themselves and their confidence. From the opening in February 2019 membership has grown and reached 200 members after just six months. The studio now boasts a team of nine instructors who all work to maintain a welcoming environment that fosters a culture of acceptance and non-judgement. The impact on the community is best summed up with this client feedback “Bleeping awesome. I’ve found a new passion, the empowerment of wahine toa is amazing.”
Community Champion Award: Casey Kopua
Casey started playing as a kid and always enjoyed netball with her earliest memories being frosty as mornings at the Matamata Netball Centre with her parents on the sidelines and layers of clothes taken off at the last possible moment before going on court.

At college, Casey excelled at netball and volleyball earning national age group selections in both sports. Eventually a choice had to be made and netball won! In the 2002 Matamata College Yearbook the coach at the time, Anne Taylor wrote “Whilst netball is a team game, having the service of such a talented player was invaluable. It is a pleasure to have such a coachable, enthusiastic member of the team” 

Casey was selected for the Bay of Plenty Waikato magic team during her 7th form year, went on to be selected for the national under 21 side and played for Waikato who become national provincial champions the same year. She first wore the fern against Barbados in 2005 and became the 23rd captain in 2009 and became the most capped New Zealand captain in history. 

Casey won two national titles, an ANZ Championship, and two commonwealth golds and finally that sweet, sweet 2019 World Cup before officially retiring.

Casey has remained humble and very authentic throughout the years and has travelled back to the District regularly,  inspiring young netballers, encouraging volunteers and giving back to the sport whenever possible. It is the value she places on this community connection as well as her sporting success that makes her a true Community Champion.

2019 Ingham's Matamata Piako District Sports Awards winners announced!

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