Sports awards hit the mark
The Porirua Sports Awards at Te Rauparaha Arena last Thursday were outstanding. We were slightly critical of last year’s awards, taking issue with the nomination process and the makeup of the judging panel.
Considering the huge variety of sport played in the Porirua basin, last year’s nomination list was disappointingly small.
The voting panel of four had three people with strong affiliations to rugby. Perhaps not surprisingly, rugby did well during the evening.
There are no such caveats about this year’s awards.
Mana Community Grants Foundation made a big effort to get sports clubs and teams involved in the nomination process and more than 50 were received overall.
They ranged across the board – not only the traditional rugby, rugby league, netball and swimming, but also sports more off the beaten track, such as underwater hockey, barefoot waterskiing and waka ama.
While waka ama and surf lifesaving missed out this time, you can guarantee representatives from those sports will be present at the 2015 awards.
Surf lifesaving will undoubtedly produce more champions, as it has so often.
Steven Kent’s heroic feats for the Black Fins when they won the world champs in France fell just outside the qualifying period for this year’s awards. He’s an early favourite for next year.
Waka ama has always had a big presence in this city, but has often not featured at the awards. Look out at Porirua Harbour most evenings and weekends and there will be paddlers out there.
With the sprint nationals at Karapiro in January, expect more names to be thrown for judges to consider in Sept- ember. Waka ama’s colourful presence on Thursday night was welcome.
The four judges – Cathy Roa, Melissa Love, Graeme Hawkins and Kapi- Mana News’ Kris Dando – did a good job in comparing apples with oranges and produced an interesting list of winners.
For people like world barefoot waterskiing champion Bevan Kelly (who won the sportsman award) and underwater hockey stars Emma Symonds (young sportswoman) and Elle Hocking ( sportswoman and premier award), it was great so see their dedication acknowledged on such a grand stage.
One worthwhile innovation is naming each award after a Porirua sports star. Thus there are now awards honouring Lynnette Brooky, Leilani Read, Don Tricker, Ken Gray, Jerry Collins and Michael Campbell.
The awards evening had many highlights.
Guest speaker Waimarama Taumaunu, the Silver Ferns coach, was excellent, and spoke movingly of Read, who was just a promising teenaged netballer when Taumaunu coached her.
Henry Smith, chairman of Porirua Community Trust, spoke of the importance of giving back to a sport. He mentioned how he once coached a promising Hutt Valley shot putter named Victor Vito, who has gone on to become an All Black.
Ngati Toa kaumatua Taku Parai ended the evening with a nice touch, with a reference to thanking ‘‘God in Heaven above for Porirua by the bay’’, which was apparently how Ngati Toa elders used to end their prayers when he was a youngster.
The awards evening reflected the best of Porirua, with music provided by Kevin Clark, Bishop Viard College and LE ART, three performers from Brandon Intermediate who are destined for musical greatness.