The New Zealand Shearing Championships was named Club of the Year, enjoying a stellar year managing the largest sports event in the King Country. With over 300 volunteers across four days, thousands of dollars of sponsorship, competitors and commentators coming from all over the world, the local club did Waitomo district proud.
Sport Waikato Waitomo District Coordinator Dede Downs was very pleased with the high caliber of nominations, finalists and winners this year.
“We have had an amazing spread of talent across all categories this year, and it’s great to see the hard work and determination from all our sportspeople really paying off. And those sportspeople could not do what they do without the fantastic support of the many talented coaches, administrators, officials and supporters,” Downs said.
Sport Waikato hosts eight district awards around the region, with eligible winners and judges’ recommendations now considered for the Brian Perry Waikato Regional Sports Awards on Thursday 1st February 2018 at Claudelands Conference and Event Centre, Hamilton.

2017 winners:

Service to Sport:  Neil Fagan, Christopher Lord (Snr), Wayne Strachan, Kingi Turner, Putangi Wehi
Administrator of the Year: Kelly Hibbert
Coach of the Year: Hutana Coffin
Team of the Year: Te Kuiti Bowling Club Men’s Premier B Team
Official of the Year: Peter Lange
Junior Sportswoman: Jenny Bevege
Junior Sportsman: Baven Brown
Sportsperson of the Year: Neil Pratt
Club of the Year: New Zealand Shearing Championships
Sporting Personality of the Year: Graeme Plenderleith
Secondary School Contribution to Sport: Caleb Davey
For further information, contact:

Sport Waikato Waitomo District Coordinator Dede Downs
027 495 3692 or email

Summary of winners:

Sportsperson of the Year: Neil Pratt
Neil has competed throughout New Zealand during 2017, maintaining a high shooting average which has kept him in the highest echelon of shooters nationwide. Neil placed second in the New Zealand High Gun, Double Rise and Single Barrel Championships. He also made the winning Waikato Team at the North Island Champs and again at the New Zealand High Gun Champs.  Neil devotes a lot of time to the Te Kuiti Trapshooters Club and gives his time freely to those who require coaching.
Sporting Personality of the Year: Graeme Plenderleith
Plendy, as he is affectionately known, is a very committed grassroots coach, mentor and advisor to athletes, parents, coaches and managers of many codes in Te Kuiti. He has made himself available to lead football trainings, holiday skill sessions and summer league. Tennis and table tennis weekly sessions, athletics during summer months and Te Kuiti High School sport are Plendy’s ‘hobbies’. He was the main driver behind the revival of the Te Kuiti Gymsport club, taking over 100 kids and parent coaches through their paces.
Junior Sportsman of the Year: Baven Brown
Baven Brown was selected from New Zealand’s top young talent from Heartland unions for the Heartland Under 19 rugby team to contest the Jock Hobbs Memorial trophy against teams from each of the Mitre 10 Cup provincial unions. Baven was also a member of the King Country Rams and Waitete teams. He was awarded trophies for Waitete player of the year and for top try scorer throughout the season. Baven is an accomplished young sportsperson, humble, yet determined to always do his best for the team and his club.
Junior Sportswoman of the Year: Jenny Bevege
Equestrian champion Jenny Bevege achieved international success this year as part of the New Zealand Pony Club Association Inter-Pacific team that won the Nations and Kangaroo Cups. Jenny also captained the Waikato Dressage team, which placed 2nd in North Island and 3rd at the New Zealand Dressage Champs. Member of 4th placed eventing team at NZ champs. Jenny is a Pony Club instructor who coaches at seven Waikato Pony Club branches. She is passionate about giving back to Pony Clubs and inspiring the next generation of riders.
Secondary School Contribution to Sport: Caleb Davey
When not playing competitive sport for his Te Kuiti Squash club or High school, Caleb can usually be found refereeing, organising or coaching. He took on the role of junior squash coach much to the delight of the kids at having the respected young club champion as their very own coach. The ladies A squash team, trained and coached by Caleb, won their Waikato Division 3 competition. For his school basketball team, Caleb refereed and did score bench duties also volunteering his time to ref miniball games every week and complete any duties required to help high school sport run smoothly.
Team of the Year: Te Kuiti Bowling Club’s Men’s Premier B Team
Another local team to sweep all larger clubs before them at regional level. Having been selected on performances in club championships and tournaments, the team used their superior bowling skills and team spirit to take out the Waikato Premior B Men’s competition.  This then qualified the team to contest the New Zealand interclub competition representing Bowls Waikato. A great honour for this small but supportive club.
Official of the Year: Peter Lange
Peter excelled in his role as Chief Examiner leading a team of competent woolhandling judges at the World Shearing Championships in Invercargill in February this year. He also served as one of six national woolhandling examiners certifying the competency of woolhandling judges before they judge a competition. Strong leadership skills, decision making, problem solving, negotiation and communication have been Peter’s strong points in his national role this year.
Coach of the Year:  Hutana Coffin
Hutana played an integral role in developing and creating pathways for young players, drawn from across North King Country, in his Otorohanga Mitsubishi Colts team.  They dispatched all in their path on the way to winning the Waikato Under 21s championship for 2017. Hutana initiated the NZ Waikato Harlequin Club Colts though regular consultation with Waikato Rugby Union, NZ Harlequins and Waikato Clubs, creating pathways for under21 males. Four of his colts team were identified and one selected for Waikato under 19s. Additional positive initiatives he provided to his club and Academy were workshops and sharing of information with junior teams and staff management resulting in a very positive club culture.
Administrator of the Year: Kelly Hibbert
Kelly’s administrator roles have been many and diverse this year. The Waitomo district Junior Cricket club owes its existence to Kelly and her determination to provide grassroots cricket to all ages. She manages weekly club days, liaises with regional cricket bodies and has organised teams to play in Otorohanga and Waikato. She is one of the main Te Kuiti Mud Run event organisers involving over 6 months of organisation, promotion and course set-up. Junior miniball, football and table tennis also benefit from Kelly’s organisational skills. She is also the driving force behind a new children’s playground being constructed in her neighbourhood.

This year Kelly has completed cricket management courses and is currently undertaking a year-long Hamilton based NZ Certificate in Sports Administration qualification.
Club of the Year: The New Zealand Shearing Championships
The New Zealand Shearing Championships enjoyed a stellar year managing the largest sports event in the King Country and rivalled only by the Masterton Golden shears event for largest shearing event in the country. With over 300 volunteers across four days, thousands of dollars of sponsorship, competitors and commentators coming from all over the world, the local club did Waitomo district proud. The club works hard to preserve a family atmosphere also bringing to the general public a greater appreciation of a special rural lifestyle. A significant number of NZ Shearing Championships members were at the forefront of the outstanding, award winning World Shearing Champs in Invercargill, showcasing the sports of shearing and woolhandling at its best. 
Service to Sport: Neil Fagan
In true Fagan style Neil has been a hard working member of the New Zealand Shearing Championships committee for over 20 years, performing a wide range of roles and always with his quiet manner and trademark smile. From the basic tasks of setting up and packing down after the huge annual shears event, he has tackled the huge role of managing sponsorship as well as many other support roles. As an accredited shearing judge, Neil continues to take his skills and knowledge to shows around the country spending his free time furthering the sports of shearing and woolhandling.
Service to Sport: Christopher Lord (Snr)
Chris has been the mainstay of the Waitomo Axe and Gun Club and chopping events at the Waitomo Caves Sports day for many years.  The roles he managed – Secretary Treasurer, representative on the New Zealand Axemans Association, Results co-ordinator, Media liaison, organiser of training days for new members, managing all details for local members and coaches involved in national competitions, purchasing and preparing blocks for competitions as well as many more basic tasks that only he knows of. Although stepping aside due to work commitments Chris has a great successor in his son Chris junior to carry on his good work.
Service to Sport: Wayne Strachan
After 36 years of managing North King Country rugby teams, from lightweight juniors to future All Blacks, ‘Strachy’ has finally stepped aside, on a winning note no less. Strachy played rugby for Huia and Oparure and began coaching in 1988 with the Waitete Under 18s. The Late Sir Colin Meads then encouraged him to put his skills to good use managing and coaching King Country Under 18s and Under 21s. From Waitete B, Maniapoto and Huia Seniors, Strachy then turned his attention to the young Gold Fields and Roller Mills then finally the victorious Otorohanga Under 13s in 2017. Looking back, he declares….’It’s been worth it’.
Service to Sport: Kingi Turner
Since the inception of Te Kawau Maro o Maniapoto Festival 20 years ago, Kingi Turner has been at the forefront as Trustee, Vice chair, Master of ceremonies, Media consultant and Kapa haka co-ordinator. Kingi has been instrumental in drawing whanau home from around Aotearoa and overseas to participate in the largest ever bi-annual event hosted by the iwi of Maniapoto. It has been through his ability to communicate and hold open and meaningful conversations that the people have not hesitated to join their iwi in sport, recreation, cultural and historic teachings.
Service to Sport: Putangi Wehi
Another very important Te Kawau Maro o Maniapoto Festival organiser, Putangi supported the Kaupapa from day dot and through his conversations with and consultation of all ages in his tribe, the festival was created. He has served his time as Sport co-ordinator, Iwi liaison, Youth co-ordinator, Vice chairman and Trustee as well as being available to all for cultural supervision. Despite his declining health, Putangi has not let this keep him away from his involvement with his people as he continues to advocate for the Festival committee as a means to unite his iwi.

Shooter Neil Pratt takes out Sportsperson title at The Lines Company Waitomo District Sports Awards

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