The fourth year of the Waikato Sport & Active Recreation Awards has seen a record number of nominations from around the Waikato region. Sport Waikato encouraged nominations from those in the community who go above and beyond to deliver programmes and initiatives that help create a more active region. 
 
“Over 120 nominations were received for this year’s awards,” said Sport Waikato CEO Matthew Cooper. “And it speaks volumes about the outstanding work that is happening all around our region as people and organisations work to ensure they are delivering opportunities that mean that more people are being active in a way that meets their needs.”
 
The awards format aligns with Sport Waikato’s partnered strategy, Moving Waikato, and the shift to working at a strategic level to support and grow the capability of those who influence play, active recreation and sport in our region, with the aim to grow participation to at least 75% by 2030. 

This year’s finalists include some really innovative initiatives from around the region such as dance, surfing, historical cycle tours, virtual challenges, boxing, judo and skateboarding, to name a few.  
 
Among the outstanding coaches in the Community Coach category is Miha Brown whose nomination notes “Parents acknowledge the reason their child is playing sport, or doing kapa haka, or being in a team, is purely because of the positive experience they have when they are around Miha. Families and sponsors have made recent significant donations for equipment and gear, this reflects the work and mana of Miha. He is innovative and always thinking ahead.”
 
One of this year’s Community Unsung Heroes finalists is Vicki Skill: “Without Vicki being the stalwart of the Whiritoa Lifeguard Service committee we wouldn't have a committee or potentially a club! With the resurrection of the committee now running the surf club the community now has a vibrant, committed team leading beach safety in Whiritoa.”
 
Nominations have all been judged this year by local judges from the sector – commentator and Waikato radio broadcaster, Graeme ‘Mintie’ Mead and Waikato River Trails General Manager, Glyn Wooller, and new to the judging panel Sport Development Manager, Amigene Metcalfe and Targeted Participation Manager, Roxanna Holdsworth. The judges said it would always be a difficult job as there were so many worthy nominations.

The finalists are:
 
Community Connection:  
 
·     Community Sports Delivery (Waipa) 
·     Le Aute Dance Academy Tuakau (Waikato district) 
·     Te Huarahi Hou – New Pathways Programme (Hamilton) 
 
Sport & Active Recreation Partnership:  
 
·     Active Agers Program – a partnership between The Velodrome Cambridge and Mel Engelbrecht from the YMCA (Waipa) 
·     Waikato Multi-Sport Holiday Programme (Hamilton) 
·     Zespri Young and Healthy Virtual Adventure (Waikato region) 
 
Outstanding Active Space Initiative:  
 
·     Korikori Park (within Rototuna Village Hub precinct) - Hamilton City Council (Hamilton) 
·     Taupo Historical Cycle Tours – Pedal Safe, Taupo District Council (Taupo) 
·     Tirau Domain Project - South Waikato District Council (South Waikato) 
 
Commitment to Accessibility and Inclusion:  
 
·     ConnectEd Dance Co. Children’s Dance Classes (Hamilton) 
·     GIRL POWA – First Steps Outdoors (Waipa) 
·     Super Beans – Jumping Beans Waikato (Waikato district) 
·     Wai-Tai, Wai-Rua (Waikato district) 
 
Community Unsung Hero:  
 
·     Vicki Skill - Whiritoa Lifeguard Service (Hauraki) 
·     Wesley Hendricks - Titans Futsal Club, Waibop Futsal, NZ Futsal, St Johns College, St Joseph's Chanel school, Hamilton Wanderers Sports Club (Hamilton) 
·     Gaylene Dorssers - College Old Girls, Te Awamutu College and Te Awamutu Netball Centre U18 (Waipa)  
 
Community Coach:
 
·     Gabi Peach - Weightlifting New Zealand/Waikato Weightlifting Club/Waikato Diocesan School for Girls (Hamilton) 
·     Margaret (Margee) Rota - Waikato Treasure Chests Dragonboat Club (Hamilton) 
·     Miha Brown – St Peter Chanel School (Hamilton) 
 
Commitment to Youth Engagement: 
 
·     First Push Skateboarding - Whitianga Skate School (Thames-Coromandel) 
·     Te Awamutu Boxing Academy - (Waipa) 
·     Waikato Wahine Movement (Hamilton) 
 
Outstanding By Youth For Youth Initiative:
 
·     Gabriella Hughes – Tairua Surf LIfesaving Club (Thames-Coromandel) 
·     Hajamie Judo Club – Jamie Hopson (Waipa) 
·     Youth Coaches engaging and growing U12’s Waterpolo - Waikato Waterpolo Club (Hamilton) 
 
Congratulations to every person and initiative that was nominated this year – we value and acknowledge all the incredible work you do to keep our communities active. 
 
Finalists will be published on Sport Waikato social media channels, www.sportwaikato.org.nz and you can view all nominations at www.wsara.co.nz
 
Finalists and their supporters are invited to a special event on Thursday 15th February 2024 in Hamilton where winners will be announced. 

2023 Waikato Sport & Active Recreation Awards - FINALISTS ANNOUNCED!

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