The Canoeist of the Year award celebrates those who achieve or contribute to recreational canoeing in New Zealand. This list of awardees is compiled by Jonathan Hunt.
The award is for the individual(s) (or team) who has made an outstanding achievement or contribution in the area of recreational canoeing. For example, someone who works for the advancement of canoeing in New Zealand, promotes conservation or safe canoeing, is active in a club, demonstrates outstanding ability in any branch of canoeing, or demonstrates leadership ability.
"Canoeist of the Year" is awarded annually at the Annual General Meeting of Whitewater NZ and recipients receive the Canard Cup.
- 2016 Luuka Jones
- 2015 Brendan Bayly
- 2014 Mick Hopkinson
- 2013 Bruce Webber & Ian Fox
- 2012 Tony Ward-Holmes
- 2011 Doug Rankin
- 2010 Hugh Canard
- 2009 Graeme Wilson
- 2008 Andy England
- 2007 Maree Baker, Gordon Rayner
- 2006 Dave Ritchie
- 2005 Mike Abbott
- 2004 Max Grant
- 2003 Alan Hoffman
- 2002 Maggie Oakley
- 2001 Alan Bell
- 2000 Ron Wastney
- 1999 Stephen Quinn and Grant Webby
- 1998 Colin Leitch
- 1997 Graham Charles
- 1996 Martin Bell
- 1995 NZ Wildwater Team (Aaron Cox, Andrew Martin, Phil Dooney)
- 1994 John Hodges
- 1993 Hugh Canard
- 1990 Wade Bishop
- 1988 Donald Johnstone
- 1981-1982 Graham and Jan Egarr
Luuka Jones: Canoeist of the Year 2016
We expect you all know about Luuka Jones’s Olympic silver medal, the first ever Olympic medal in whitewater slalom gained by a Kiwi (and one of only 6 in any Olympic slalom event by a competitor from outside Europe). In 101.82 seconds on the 11th of August 2016 at the Rio Olympics Luuka propelled whitewater slalom (and the rest of whitewater by association) from a “what’s that?” sport as far as most of NZ is concerned to one the public is now clamouring to know more about. Luuka’s efforts on the world’s biggest sporting stage have in a few seconds effectively done more to promote whitewater paddling to the general public than probably the rest of us have done the past 30 years.
Luuka’s racing throughout the Olympics was superb, focussed, consistent and thoroughly classy. Her finals run was one of only two clean runs, the other being that of Spain’s gold medal winner Maialen Chourraut, and edged out a number of more highly ranked competitors including Australia’s Jessica Fox (who finished with bronze).
While Luuka’s medal may have surprised most of NZ and maybe even some slalom followers we don’t think it surprised anyone who’s paddled with, coached (as Sarge has), been on a team with, or even seen Luuka paddling before. Luuka has been working towards an Olympic medal since her primary school days and for many years now has been in the upper ranks of international slalom paddling, knocking at the door of the dominant European competitors. Luuka’s dedicated approach and hard-working training ethic, highlighted most recently by repeated training camps at Rio to get used to the course there, has been apparent for many years and has now paid off at the highest level.
It is not only Luuka’s competitive achievements that make her, we believe, worthy of being awarded COTY for 2016. Luuka has been, is, and we are certain will continue to be an inspiration for younger paddlers (of whom we hope there will now be many more!) and is always open, friendly, approachable and helpful towards those around her. In the true Kiwi style we respect so much, Luuka’s natural humility marks her as a genuinely wonderful person and the kind of sporting hero we can relate to as being real.
It is with the greatest of pleasure that we nominate Luuka Jones for the award of Whitewater NZ Canoeist Of The Year 2016.
– Ian Fox and Alan 'Sarge' Hoffman.
Brendan Bayly: Canoeist of the Year 2015
The Waikato Kayak Club would like to nominate Brendan Bayly for Canoeist of the Year 2015-2016.
Okay, so we are biased because Brendan is a born-and-bred Waikato boy but he continues to do a huge amount of work behind the scenes to the benefit of river users in New Zealand.
Brendan and his family were members of the Hamilton Canoe Club (now the Waikato Kayak Club) while he was growing up but it was while doing the outdoor education course at Te Awamutu College under the tutorage of Brett Leong that his kayaking addiction started.
On leaving school Brendan was able to grow some very impressive dreadlocks and also attend Training College gaining a teaching degree majoring in Outdoor Education. Brendan then returned to his old college as a teacher where the students benefited enormously from his teaching ability.
In the kayaking world Sam Ricketts and Sean Curtis are two of his better known ex-students but there are many more we paddle with every weekend who now have kayaking as their main form of recreation, who paddle well and safely, love our rivers and pass on their own kayaking addictions. Brendan has now moved on from his old school but is still seen on the river giving his time freely when help is needed with the latest crop of young outdoor enthusiasts.
In recent years Brendan has been heavily involved behind the scenes helping to organize events like the Full James weekend, the Wairoa Extreme and the Kaituna Enduro. These events, that hundreds of kayakers look forward to each year, take many hours of his free time. Brendan is also a great supporter of Buller Fest having attended every year since before his dreads were shorn off.
It goes without saying that he is also a very accomplished paddler and if you are into more of the “hair” boating then you could add his first-ever descent of Tauranga Taupo Falls to the list.
So in summing up, we can say that Brendan is a very important part of our river community and has been for a long time now for such a young man. He continues to do a great deal of work introducing young people to kayaking and the enjoyment of our rivers and is a wonderful role model for young kayakers. He continues to give his time freely organising very popular kayaking events and is an all-round nice guy to top it off. Therefore, we are pleased to nominate Brendan Bayly for Canoeist of the Year.
Waikato Kayak Club
Mick Hopkinson: Canoeist of the Year 2014
At our committee meeting on 6 May the Whitewater Canoe Club committee unanimously voted to nominate Mick Hopkinson as Whitewater NZ's Canoeist of the Year for 2014.
Mick is a legend in kayaking circles. He is a member of the International Whitewater Hall of Fame.
Mick's exploratory boating followed a decade of competition slalom, and his international first descents included:
- some of the most difficult sections of the Inn and Oetz rivers in Switzerland and Austria
- first descent of the Blue Nile in Ethipia (1972)
- first descent of the Dudh Khosi in Nepal (1976)
- first descent of Braldu in Pakistan (1978)
- first descent of Karnali in Nepal (1987)
- first descent of many of the most challenging sections of the Indus (1990).
Once arriving in New Zealand Mick continued to explore, and amongst his numerous achievements include:
- first descent of Nevis Bluff on the Kawarau under "normal' conditions
- first descent of the late and lamented Sargood's weir
- first descent of Maruia falls
- first descents of numerous other rivers including sections of the Arahura, the Styx and the Toaroha.
Mick has also made a huge contribution to kayaking in New Zealand through his ownership and operation of the NZ Kayak School. Whether a beginning paddler wanting to learn the basics, an intermediate paddler looking to develop skills, paddlers looking to develop safety and rescue skills, or an expert looking to fine tune, Mick and his team provide a very important resource for paddlers from NZ and internationally. It's the first taste they get at the kayak school which gets many people "hooked". And Mick's tutors and boat slaves set the benchmark for the next generation of teachers and explorers.
As well as imparting skills, Mick imparts clear safety messages and talks about the need for teamwork, for cooperation and good judgement. For self reliance and other reliance. Mick is always generous with his time, always happy to provide advice, and continues to provide considerable support for visitors and ex-pupils alike.
Mick remains very involved in river protection. In recent years he has been actively campaigning against proposals to dam the Matiri, and particularly against Network Tasman's proposal to dam the Matakitaki. The box erected at the takeout has recorded the names of the hundreds of people who run the river each year. It's to his credit that Network Tasman has now walked away from the project.
We consider that Mick Hopkinson is a very worthy, and long overdue, recipient of the Whitewater NZ Canoeist of the Year award.
Graeme Wilson - for the Whitewater Canoe Club
Bruce Webber & Ian Fox: Canoeist of the Year 2013
I have known Bruce since the mid 90's when he owned his kayak school in Taupo. Back then Bruce had been instrumental in setting up Reids Farm kayak course in Taupo and was busy infecting people young and old with his incredible enthusiasm for our sport. This is still going on today as he has been working hard in Kawerau getting new kids into kayaking and rafting and introducing people into river stand-up paddleboarding too.
Bruce has always been incredibly generous with his time and huge stock of personal gear and boats and his love for paddling is almost unequalled. Often when I spend time with Bruce I wish I could have his level of energy and enthusiasm and he drags me up to a new level.
Bruce's family are also passionate about the sport which is something we don't always see and it means a huge range of people get dragged off to the river on family outings or National slalom champs and rafting events. Maybe if he gets the award it should be to Bruce Webber and family?!
Ironically I guess you'll be aware of his enthusiasm as I just noticed he is speaking at the AGM!
– Andy Fuller
Ian has a long history of kayaking, and has been associated with the WWCC for around 20 years. He's been on our committee for a decade or more and has fulfilled a number of roles - from instruction, safety and latterly a period as club president.
Ian has had a very long involvement in the protection of rivers generally, but more particularly in our local river, the Hurunui. For the last decade he's attended almost every meeting there has been in North Canterbury which has discussed the Hurunui and Waiau rivers. He's pushed our interests and concerns with farmers, with irrigators, with developers and with local politicians. He's fronted up at meetings where he has been the only kayaker in the room, and has made crucially-important contacts - and paved the way for a recognition of kayaking values.
Since the commencement of the Canterbury Water Management Strategy in late 2010 he's been even more heavily involved. Despite standing unsuccessfully for the Hurunui Waiau Zone Committee nearly three years ago Ian has continued to attend virtually every meeting of that Committee - each involving a 200km round trip to monthly meetings, field trips, and workshops. Ian has taken time off work and given up weekends and incurred travel costs to get along. He's recognised by the committee as having an extremely valuable input to the point of being regarded as the ex officio kayaking rep.
He was one of the prime movers in the reconsideration of the Waitohi for storage - which left the Hurunui mainstem undammed. Ian with a number of others, kayakers and non-kayakers alike, contributed to, and rejoiced in, the recent decision to prohibit dams on the upper reaches of the Hurunui catchment.
Ian was selected as a member of the Christchurch West Melton zone committee, and has become chair of that committee. Ian has been the unsung champion of the flat water and multi-sport kayakers and the rowers in advocating for the improvement of facilities in the wake of the Canterbury earthquakes. Ian also regularly attends the CWMS Regional Committee meetings where he is able to provide a supporting voice to Hugh Canard, who sits on the RC, to ensure that recreational interests are being considered within water planning across all of Canterbury.
Ian is an outstanding WWCC member who continues to assist newer club members in their paddling and helps out on our Brass Monkey series and has been a safety boater for many years with the Coast-to-Coast event. He has given of his time in an outstandingly generous manner and as kayakers we have reaped the benefits of his generosity.
The Canoeist of the Year award should go to one of our number who gives much more than they take from our sport. For this reason we nominate Ian as the 2013 Whitewater NZ Canoeist of the Year.
– Graeme Wilson
At our committee meeting on 11 July, the Whitewater Canoe Club committee unanimously voted that we nominate Tony Ward-Holmes as Whitewater NZ’s Canoeist of the Year.
We are aware of Tony’s considerable contribution to the NZRCA and Whitewater NZ over many years, and in a number of roles. He was Editor of NZ Canoeing from mid 2002 until July 2005; Vice-president from July 2005 until April 2009, and Conservation officer from 2009 onwards. We are also aware that he is not seeking re-election to his current Conservation Officer role.
Tony has made an enormous contribution to the protection of our rivers during his time in the conservation role.
Tony's first major challenge was co-ordinating opposition to the application by Central Plains Water to take water from the Rākaia and Waimakariri Rivers. Tony worked with members of the WWCC and Arawa Club. The process ultimately led to a reduction in takes and a reduction in the hazards posed by the intake structures.
Tony’s role was also fundamental in all the work that led up to the joint Whitewater NZ / Fish and Game application for a Water Conservation Order for the Hurunui River. Tony was deeply involved throughout the hearing process and in our initial efforts to appeal the Tribunal’s decision in the Environment Court - before legislative changes and the Canterbury Water Management Strategy changed our approach.
Instead of winding down after the end of that process, Tony became the central person driving Whitewater NZ’s defence of the Mōkihinui - he contributed hundreds of hours to the project. Emails from Tony in the wee hours of the morning were not at all unusual. We are delighted to see that his efforts were rewarded when Meridian decided against proceeding with the scheme. Now the West Coast Conservation Board has initiated a process which may see the river and catchment added to Kahurangi National Park - based in part on the excellent documentation developed as part of the court process.
Tony has made a significant and extremely generous contribution to protecting and preserving our rivers, and has done so during an extremely challenging time following the Canterbury earthquakes – it is most appropriate that we formally recognise his contribution by naming him 2012’s Canoeist of the Year.
– Graeme Wilson for Whitewater Canoe Club
The Whitewater Canoe Club nominates Doug Rankin as Whitewater New Zealand's canoeist of the year.
Doug has been kayaking for over 40 years. He started with the University of Canterbury Canoe Club in the 1970s back when students had long hair, flares, HQ Holdens, and a short playboat was a mere 4 metres long. He has paddled all over New Zealand, Europe and the USA, and the Franklin River in Tasmania.
Doug was deeply involved in the successful application for a Water Conservation Order on the Grey River back in 1984 and then the Buller River WCO in 1985, and quite a few since.
In recent years he took on the role of co-ordinating Whitewater NZ's application for a WCO for the Hurunui. Doug contributed hundreds of hours writing submissions and reviewing the submssions prepared by local groups and individuals to ensure our case was covered in detail. He also contributed to the development of the WWCC questionaire, and statistical analysis, which analysed the use of the Hurunui by the WWCC.
Doug continues to be active in conservation matters.
As well as kayaking Doug is a founding member of our local river bug club, where he introduces new "river buggers" to the sport.
Hugh Canard is patron for Whitewater NZ. Whitewater NZ’s purpose is to preserve New Zealand's whitewater resources and enhance opportunities to enjoy them safely. While the organisation’s particular interest is whitewater recreation, whitewater recreation relies on the preservation of New Zealand’s precious river environments. New Zealand’s whitewater resource is regarded as internationally significant attracting many international paddlers each year. Whitewater NZ has been a strong and successful advocate for the preservation of these river environments and Hugh has been at the forefront of this.
Hugh has been involved with Whitewater NZ and its predecessor organisations as a volunteer for well over 20 years. He has held numerous executive positions, attended and given evidence at many Resource Management hearings to protect environmental values, and has participated in many policy forums (e.g., the Sustainable Water Programme of Action Reference Group) over this time and engaged others in support. Hugh has had key roles in securing the Kawarau, Buller, Grey, Rangitata and Mohaka water conservation orders and was even known to buy land alongside Granity Rapid on the Buller River to prevent inappropriate development and retain access (an extreme but certainly innovative action) - all actions with demonstrable and measurable environmental benefit.
Hugh was also involved in the exploration of New Zealand’s river environments achieving first descents of several rivers (e.g., Arahura, Taipo and Turnbull Rivers on the West Coast) opening up whole regions and making kayakers (New Zealand and international) and others aware of New Zealand’s stunning river environments and the importance of preserving them. In short, Hugh has done much to promote not only kayaking (as recognised by being a recipient of New Zealand’s highest award from the New Zealand Canoe Federation) but also the river environments which kayakers inhabit.
In the last three years or so, his already significant contribution to the improvement and maintenance of river environments has taken a quantum leap up. Hugh has been on the Steering Group for the Canterbury Water Management Strategy (CWMS) and one of five NGO members of the Land and Water Forum (LWF) “small group”. In the latter group he is the only representative - industry, sector or NGO - who is not there in a professional capacity: Hugh is an economic development and tourism consultant by trade, not a professional advocate for whitewater recreation.
Hugh has been highly innovative in his approach. He uses his professional expertise and relationship building skills to bring greater understanding amongst different parties, find common ground and alternative solutions with traditionally opposing or indifferent parties. For instance, while water storage can destroy whitewater kayaking values and the river environments that kayakers recreate in, Hugh recently chaired the Water Storage forum for the LWF bringing together different parties to seek appropriate solutions where both environmental and economic benefits can be improved. Hugh - by taking a collaborative approach based on trust and mutual understanding - has been able to forge new directions for water management regionally and nationally which will have a hugely positive impact on the environment.
Hugh has continued to provide input in other forums apart from LWF and CWMS. He continues to play an active role as a kaumatua in New Zealand’s kayaking community and encourages, manages, advocates or participates to further kayaking and the preservation of river environments that kayakers inhabit. Hugh has done and continues to do it all - whether it be national and regional policy level forums (e.g., LWF and CWMS), national sport organisation administration (e.g., patron of WWNZ), individual WCO (e.g., presenting at the recent Hurunui WCO tribunal) and consent hearings (e.g., Mokihinui, Matiri in the last few years) in all parts of the country, negotiating access to river environments (e.g., Upper Waiau river through Conservation land), right down to grass-root club trips (e.g., organising trips on “endangered” rivers to raise awareness of their plight e.g., Mokihinui - hydro and Waiatoto - access).
The benefits for the environment from all Hugh’s works is strongly measurable - a water management strategy for Canterbury, progress towards the LWF recommendations, submissions recognised by commissioners at RMA hearings, a recommendation for a WCO for the Hurunui - the list continues.
Hugh spends days (and nights) contributing to the preservation and enjoyment of river environments largely unpaid - he recently mentioned that the number of days spent in just either the CWMS or LWF forums outnumbered his paddling recreation days by 5:1. He has certainly gone the extra mile.
Finally, Hugh has raised the awareness of the importance of the river environment for recreationalists (and whitewater kayakers in particular) through his activities, particularly the LWF and CWMS forums. Whitewater kayaking up until recently was sometimes seen as a “fringe” sport. Kayaking is now recognised for what it is - a strong and vibrant sport and a key part of our cultural, sporting and not the least our environmental heritage. He has often taken key stakeholders down rivers in a raft or similar and has let the river environment speak for itself - the experience from the river cannot be replicated. He has been instrumental in changing the mindsets of paddlers and other stakeholders to recognise the value of maintaining and enhancing New Zealand’s precious river environments for the benefit of all New Zealanders.
Nomination by Duncan Catanach
The White Water Canoe Club is based in Christchurch, and has approximately 200 members. The WWCC has been in existence for approximately thirty years. Graeme Wilson has only been a member of the club for four years but in that time he has made an enormous contribution, both within the club and to the wider kayaking community.
Graeme is not the gung ho kayaking guru / daredevil type; instead he is a quiet achiever who works steadily away at matters of importance. He freely shares his passion for the sport with others especially those keen to do single day trips who like himself have limited recreational time (which is understandable given his tireless conservation work).
Graeme joined the WWCC committee in 2006/7 and took up the position of Conservation Officer. He rapidly came to grips with this position and in 2007/08 he became the Club President and continued to hold the Conservation portfolio. Over the last year Graeme has been both the Vice-President and Conservation Officer. With a huge amount of conservation issues both nationally and locally he has really had his work cut out.
Here is a brief synopsis of his contribution over the last 12 months:
- April 2008 - Wrote the WWCC submission against the Mokihinui Hydro Proposal.
- June to August 2008 - Volunteer coordinator for Brass Monkey Kayak Race series (4 races over 2 months involving kayakers from all over Canterbury).
- August 2008 - Presented WWCC case to commissioners at the Central Plains Water Scheme hearings and initiated discussions with Network Tasman in response to the land buy-up around the Matakitaki River.
- September 2008 - Presented WWCC case on Mokihinui River to Commissioners in Westport.
- October 2008 - Wrote WWCC response to Maritime New Zealand's "Kayak Safety Strategy".
- February 2009 - Wrote WWCC submission opposing the Matiri Hydro proposal.
- March 2009 - Wrote the WWCC submission on the Hurunui WCO which included coordinating a survey of 113 members.
- April 2009 - Wrote WWCC submission to the Parliamentary Select Committee on RMA Amendment Bill and is speaking to the committee later this month.
The White Water Canoe Club wishes to nominate Graeme Wilson as NZRCA Canoeist of the year for 2009.
Nominated by Robin Rutter-Baumann for WWCC
Andy England chose New Zealand (and in particular the West Coast of the South Island) as his home because of his love of kayaking and his love of NZ whitewater. Before arriving in NZ he had sampled rivers in other countries but somehow in New Zealand things just clicked for this former president of the Scottish Canoe Association. Settled and with family he is not content to rest on his laurels and contributes to the NZ paddling community on a daily basis.
He is a keen explorer of the South Island river with trips ranging from slogging up the Styx and plunging down again, sometimes at ridiculously high flow, to a "first descent" (with Rob McConnell) from Rakaia to Hokitika - initially carrying kayaks over Whitcombe pass and then walking/paddling down the Whitcombe and Hokitika rivers to Hokitika township. Another trip of note would be the attempt of Morgan Gorge on the Waitaha which, if nothing else, proved that this surely is a piece of river worth protecting as the birth right of future generations.
Andy has been a key player behind the Tasman Whitewater SAR team on the coast since it's inception and particularly since Sam Rainey passed away. He smoothly bridges the gap between working with the police and kayakers and is hugely respected by both sides. He regularly actively takes part in searches so is not just a bureaucrat.
In his professional life Andy is Deputy Principal at Greymouth High School, where he takes great pride in teaching his school kids to paddle. He has been instrumental in impelling many local kids from Greymouth into the river and out into the larger world that the river represents. The finest examples of whom are now starting to emerge as respected and passionate paddlers themselves. Young Andy's if you will, although not perhaps with the penchant for the single malt that the real Andy has. Well not yet.
It is Andy's energy for the rivers that defines his contribution to the sport and indeed the community on the West Coast. He has vision, belief and somehow - amidst a demanding job and young family - time, to commit to the mammoth task of protecting what natural resources are left on the Coast. He may be the single largest obstacle in the way of the development juggernaut.
During 2007 Andy and Dave Ritchie (2006 COTY) have teamed up to lead the discussions for mitigation of the proposed Arnold River Power Scheme, hopefully ensuring that if the scheme does proceed a world class white water park will go some way to off setting the lost teaching and recreational amenity the natural river provides.
Currently Andy, whilst recovering from a shoulder dislocation suststained on the Upper Hokitika, is actively working at objecting to the proposed Mokihinui and Waitaha dams. He is also promoting the possibility of protecting all the rivers of the West Coast as a world heritage site.
He is a fantastic candidate for the NZRCA COTY due to his hard efforts and general ambassadorial nature which does great things for the over all image of the sport.
Nominated by Robin Rutter-Baumann
Seconded by Dave Kwant, Dave Ritchie
I'd like to nominate Maree Baker. I've been involved in the submission process for the Gowan and it's an instant insight into the machiavellian world of lawyers. Without Muzz fronting up for us, the common man, the Buller Water Conservation Order isn't worth the paper it is written on.
I think we should honour her foresight and dedication in getting a law degree and the kayaking world as a whole needs to get in behind the NZRCA on conservation issues otherwise there will be precious few rivers left to paddle on in fifty years time!
- Mick Hopkinson
I wish to nominate Maree Baker for the canoeist of the year award 07
Muzz, what do you say, rumour has it she has actually been Canoeing! Until recent times she has been the lynchpin of the legal side of the NZRCA. Talented, clever, sharp as a tack, without her dedication to the environment that we all love to play in would be even more developed, dammed or sucked dry. Rangitata, Buller... you know the story.
A classic Muzz tale would be, when one night needing to interview some folk up north regarding river use. She borrowed my clapped out subaru, as it went faster than her clapped out Kombi, drove north after work, did the interviews, kipped in the back of the car, and made it back to work the next day. All so the river user group wouldnt have to foot her bill. Grass roots, honest to goodness, hard working woman. This will be an award that is probably late in coming, and cannot represent all the effort she has put to the NZRCA in the past. Thoroughly deserved.
- Craig Adams
I can vividly remember the first time I met Gordon Rayner, a group of us had travelled up from Invercargill to the Alexandra Blossom Festival and were to stay at Gordon's place. When we arrived the place was overflowing with kayakers, and in the middle of it all loving every minute of it was the master of ceremonies, Gordon Rayner. I spent most of the weekend watching from the bank as my skill level wasn't yet up to tackling the big rivers of Central Otago, but when I left that weekend I knew I wanted to be a kayaker.
That was twenty five years ago, since that time Gordon has become a friend, mentor, role model, and life coach of mine. After all this time he still amazes me with his energy and enthusiasm for the sport, he seems to be happiest when both his house and truck are bursting at the seams with young and not so young paddlers. It is a common sight around Central Otago to see the big Nissan coming down the road with about ten boats on the roof and who knows how many paddlers on board.
Over the last few years Gordon has been almost solely responsible for a massive growth of kayaking in Central; he is the coach, the equipment officer, trip organiser and was instrumental in setting up the COW rafting days which was set up to raise funds for athletes travelling overseas. He runs weekly training sessions at the irrigation dam behind his house, (in the middle of winter he needs to break the ice on the dam before they can paddle on it), and has such mana among the kids that there is a wait list (due to gear requirements) of those wanting to join these coaching sessions.
For a lot of these young kayakers (and their parents) it is a life changing experience, with many going on to compete in national events. A significant number have been selected for development teams and travelled to Australia to compete, and three, Lucien Holgate, Sam Murray and Thomas Murray have represented New Zealand in Europe at the Junior World events. This year Gordon had 29 children at the NZ secondary school competition. These kids have the world at their feet, and opportunities that few can even imagine all because of Gordon's energy and vision.
Aside from his tireless hands on approach he has also been the driving force behind Central Otago Whitewater Inc. (COW) he was one of the founding members in 1989, it was set up to apply for funds from the Clyde Dam Amenities fund, to promote kayaking in Central and establish a slalom site at Roaring Meg.
He has been a key member involved in the organisation of three nationals at this site in 1991, 1997 and 2007. He was also deeply involved in the establishment of the Kawarau Conservation order, and has been the club conservation officer for ever. Gordon has worked hard to raise our profile with the Regional Council, local Councils, Doc and Ngai Tahu to ensure we are consulted with in regard to all things concerning our rivers.
Gordon has been the driving force behind the Hawea Whitewater Enhancement Project. Which through the Contact Energy resource consent processes COW has obtained $850,000 to create new Whitewater and education features on the Hawea River. Gordon has been working through this very complicated process since 2001. This is due to come to fruition next summer, and I believe will be breaking new ground for kayaking in New Zealand. This project has been driven by Gordon's vision for the future of kayaking, and his ability to mediate with many parties to get an outcome that is far beyond that of what any of us could have dreamed of at the beginning.
He does all this and still manages to come 1st overall in the South Island Slalom Champs on the Roaring Meg in March 2007, 2nd SV at the NZ Slalom Nationals at Easter and was in the final four in the Teva Extreme Race on Citreon Rapid.
I know that I have the whole hearted support of all of our club members as well as many other river people that have been infected with Gordon's energy and enthusiasm when I put Gordon Rayner forward for NZ Canoeist of the Year.
- Roy Bailey.
Central Otago Whitewater Inc.
Gordon should be well known to you all for his long time involvement in kayaking in New Zealand. His first decent of the Nevis Bluff rapid along with Greg Ball in the 1980's is stuff legends are made of. That passion has never left Gordy and he has continued to paddle ever since.
What may not be so well known is his on going involvement in resource management issues including the conservation order on the Kawarau River and more recently his extensive work on the Contact Energy water right renewals. That work has resulted in an amazing agreement with Contact Energy which will in time give us a state of the art whitewater facility on the Hawea River.
Even less well known is the transformation in the past couple of seasons which has seen Gordon go from Guru paddler and staunch advocate for developing kayaking facilities to Gordy coach and mentor to a whole new generation of paddlers.
To a large extent Gordon is the driving force behind the amazing development that we are experiencing. His current passion for developing young paddlers and systematically preparing them for both slalom and grade 3 water has to be seen to be believed. The time and effort put into both coaching sessions and river trips can not be adequately put into words. Tonight as I drove past the latest slalom course set up on the Clutha River I could only shack my head at the number of cars parked up and the effort being put in.
Of course Gordon can still paddle and at last weeks South Island Slalom Champs he was first Vet and first overall.I have no hesitation in joining COW Inc and nominating Gordon Rayner for this award.
- Tony Lepper
Chair Sport Otago
Treasurer COW Inc
Since I have known Dave Ritchie I have admired his endless passion for kayaking. He is dependable and motivating, always keen to push the envelope weather practicing new rodeo moves or running hard lines. His enthusiasm for the sport is remarkable considering he has been living and breathing kayaking for well over ten years. I believe he is certainly the most skilled instructor and passionate Kayaker in New Zealand.
Apart form kayak instruction Dave has been a driving force in pushing river rescue skills courses to new levels; he has boldly run courses that others would not, pushing even the toughest professional river runners to new ground. He has also been involved in numerous multisport events controlling the safety of athletes in incredibly demanding locations around the world. Dave will always be first to try something, never expecting other to attempt anything he is not completely happy doing himself.
Dave has also been working hard to outfit kayakers safely, coming up with innovative designs to help kayakers of all experience levels feel more secure and comfortable whilst on the water. (And they look good to!)
Above all else Dave Ritchie is an incredibly kind, genuine person. When I was last visiting him a few young kayaking lads turned up; apparently they needed to use the internet but were on a tight budget, so Dave offered his computer at home.
Dave is a person that never stops offering his time and energy even though he is in the world of kayaking twenty-four-seven. He's inspirational on the river and has real concern for river uses; I believe it is his time to be recognised for his continuous commitment to the sport.- Wayne Johnson
This Dunedin boy has come a long way, since being a Lycra clad Aerobics Instructor in the early 90's. A man of many talents! (We'll leave that just right there I think.) Dave has the ability to directly engage with people he is in contact with, this combined with his irrepressible humour, leaves you uplifted on parting.
The crux of this is from working in Murchison at the NZ Kayak school that Dave assisted in providing, "the great leap forward" for the rest of us, collating new thinking from overseas and also combining many locally inspired twists, for the way kayaking is taught. Simplicity is key, function is critical.
P.S. Wondering if indeed he is awarded the COTY, if you could get him a cape to go with his old Lycra.
- Craig Adams
Mike Abbott has excelled at every aspect of whitewater canoeing including expedition paddling (first descents in New Zealand and around the world), freestyle, extreme races and instruction (even canoe polo). His role as co-leader in the audacious Yarling Tsangpo expedition in Tibet, described as the Everest of rivers, makes Mike the 'Edmund Hillary' of New Zealand kayaking and is an illustration of his leadership ability.
The Tsango is such a powerful, high-volume river, in such a remote and challenging location, that it stands as one of the last great adventures on the planet. Having read the various trip reports, or Peter Heller's book, or viewed the Outside video documentary, one cannot fail to be impressed at the scale of the challenge, and commensurately, of the achievement (see for example, http://web.outsideonline.com/tsangpo/liquid_thunder_1.html ).
His outstanding ability is further demonstrated by other notable first descents include various new rivers in Norway and Northern Laos, Upper Chenab (India) in 2003, Maykha (upper Irrawaddy, Myanmar) in 2003, Utle (Norway's deepest gorge) in 2002, Mekhong (Laos) in 2001, Upper Sutlej (India) in 2000, Upper Rangit (Sikkim) in 1999, Kothmle Oya and Mahawel Ganga (Sri Lanka) in 1998, Mangde Chu; the Mangde chu, Punasang chu, Mo chu, Po chu and Wang chu (Bhutan) in 1997; Parvati, Sainj, Tirthan rivers (Norther India) in 1994, along with the Upper Whitcombe and Waitaha rivers in New Zealand.
Mike's boating has also included the Zanzkar Gorges and Indus and covered Nepal, Norway, USA, Canada, France, Switzerland, Italy, Germany, Austria, UK, Australia, Thailand, Indonesia, Zimbabwe, Laos, India, Morocco, and Spain.
Mike has excelled in international extreme races amongst the world's elite kayakers, including: 1st Sweet Boatercross (Norway, 2003), 1st Voss Extreme Race (Norway,2003), 1st Teva Val Sesia Cup (Italy, 2003), 2nd Teva Val Sesia Cup (Italy, 2002), 6th Montreal Big Water Invitational (Canada, 2001), 1st Asahan Whitewater Festival (Indonesia, 2001), 2nd Wairoa Extreme Race (NZ, 2001), 1st Asahan Whitewater Festival (Indonesia, 2000), 1st Zambezi Big Water Invitational (Zambia, 2000), and 1st Voss Extreme race (Norway, 2000). He has represented NZ at three Freestyle worlds with top 20 placings in 1997 (16th in Canada), 1999 (19th in NZ) and 2001 (13th in Spain).
Mike has worked to advance the sport of canoeing in Aotearoa by guiding groups of recreational kayakers from abroad around New Zealand, on two-week tours of the South Island, showing them kiwi whitewater. He has guided several film crews making TV and video productions about our whitewater; for example, the first descent of the Waitaha was filmed for US television. He has toured New Zealand with slideshows of his expeditions, and has published articles in Adventure magazine, helping inspire other kiwi paddlers to achieve their paddling dreams.
He recently achieved NZOIA Kayak L1, and has been teaching the next generation of kayakers at CPIT and Aoraki Polytech, as well as the New Zealand Kayak School.
The Canoeist of the Year award would recognise Mike's outstanding achievements to date, and help him gain support for future challenges. Mike was recently a contender for Paddler Magazine's paddler of the year award, recognising his ability as world-class; I would like to see the NZRCA get in first!- Jonathan Hunt
Over many years, Max has turned his sport into his life. He started as a young lad kayaking on a weedy lagoon, and became one of New Zealand's top kayaking designers and manufacturers.
Max started messing around in boats at an early age and has always been interested in the making of kayaks, starting with bits of wood and canvas in his parents' back yard over the school holidays. In 1961 he joined the Palmerston North Canoe Club and spent many years as a member and on the committee of that club. In 1975, with his interest in white water kayaking gaining momentum, he and a handful of others formed the Ruahine White Water Club. Since then he has held various, if not all, executive positions. He was an executive member of the NZCA, and held the positions of Instruction, Slalom and Safety. He was awarded the NZCA blazer at a Christchurch AGM in the late 1980's early 1990's.
Max has always had an attitude of getting as many people into kayaking as he could, and has run not hundreds, but thousands of introduction to kayaking courses or beginners trips. Some of the young people, who he literally pushed into the water, have become well recognised, international paddlers, with some representing New Zealand at the Commonwealth and Olympic Games.
Max has played a leading part in exploring a number of rivers. Max's Drop on the Upper Rangitikei River was named after him after a harrowing journey in fibreglass kayaks and was a part of a team that ran the Rangitikei from its source to the sea at Tangimoana.
Max is a well liked, easy going person, but is not keen on the lime light, and for this reason it has been difficult to document the history of his kayaking experiences. We have tracked down a few of his achievements, but not all:
- Represented New Zealand between 1966 and 1970 in flat water racing in Australia
- Helped organise the Slalom for the Commonwealth Games on the Rangitata River in 1974
- Cook Strait crossings and expeditions to Dusky Sound and Fiordland
- Circumnavigating the Chatham and Pitt Island, as well as many other sea kayaking adventures
- First in the Ironman in Wanaka in 1980, and many other races as the kayaker in multisport events
- Competed in the World Firefighters games in Auckland and Australia and collected many medals in kayaking
- Thirty years of club trips that ranged from beginners level to grade V
- Executive member of the Kiwi Association of Sea Kayakers (KASK)
- Designing, manufacturing, and exporting kayaks and paddling gear throughout the world
There are hundreds of tales of Max's exploits that I have not mentioned. Max is very deserving of this award, for the years he has spent promoting all aspects of the sport. He is the type of person who jumps in and helps run a successful event and afterwards slips into the back ground and lets other people take the credit.- Graeme McIntyre
Alan Hoffman has been active in the kayaking scene for 20-25 years now; he has a very enthusiastic passion for the sport. He spends many hours passing on his vast knowledge of kayaking to anyone willing to learn. Over the past year he has actively coached, promoted and competed in kayaking from grassroots level to an international level. His recent focus has been on slalom kayaking, coaching, managing teams, building courses, competing and watching his sons at competitions.
His achievements include:
- Coached students from Mt Aspiring College on a regular basis in whitewater kayaking and slalom kayaking.
- Coached the Southern Slalom Training Squad, (a small group of South island kayakers), Alan organized coaching camps, with top NZ coaches, many training weekends and countless competitions for this group and his hard work paying off when eight of the squad gained selection into the NZ Junior Development Team which went to Australia to compete at the Age Group Champs and the Australian Nationals in Tasmania in January 2003. His two sons Nic and Mike also competed at the Youth Olympic Festival in Penrith, Sydney during January 2003 and gained a Silver Medal in C2, after a lot of intensive training by Alan.
- Alan is a predominant member of the Central Otago White Water Canoe Club, and has spent many hours over the last year getting to gether submissions for the Contact Energy Water Rights hearings to try and get some compensation for kayakers over the loss of rapids, etc. from the hydro-electric development.
- Alan is also involved in the development of the Tekapo White Water course, running several successful events, and attending many meetings to get the course up and running.
- In January 2003 Alan was Manager of the NZ Junior Kayak Development Team which went to Australia, as manager he spent many long hours organizing the trip, and while in Australia managed the team and helped out with coaching. The trips was very successful the team gaining 79 medals.
- In between organising many slalom kayaking events he had the time to train for himself and compete successfully in the Veterans section at many competitions.
- The South Island training squad returned from the National Champs recently with a very creditable performance winning 56 medals between the 14 competitiors. This is largely due to Alan's enthusiastic coaching and persistent training.
- Alan has been on the WWSNZ Committee for a couple of years now actively trying to promote the sport of slalom kayaking in the South Island and New Zealand.
- Alan has been a member of Whitewater Canoe Club and Huka Falls Canoe Club.
Alan spends many hours on rivers, beside rivers, moving rocks in rivers, paddling on rivers, coaching and passing on his passion for the sport, which is a huge part of his and his family's life.- Kirsty Hoffman
Maggie first started kayaking in 1973 just before the birth of her daughter. This was on the Rangitikei River in the North Island and the first kayak was an old-style double, bought from a local farmer, which she paddled with her husband Rod. She joined the Palmerston North Canoe Club in 1974.
In 1977 Maggie moved with her family to Lawrence and in 1981 moved to Dunedin. She joined the Otago Canoe & Kayak Club in 1977 and has been involved in the committee in various roles on and off since then and has always an active member. She has been involved in most forms of the sport, namely whitewater, sea kayaking, slalom and in 1987 was in a womens team of the Coast-to-Coast and in 1988 won the Veteran Womens Individual Coast-to-Coast.
The various activities Maggie has been involved:
- Organising numerous trips, both white water and sea & lake trips. Maggie has always been keen to get beginners out and onto the beautiful rivers and lakes of NZ.
- Organised river safety courses several times for club members.
- Organised first aid courses for club members.
- Worked actively for the conservation of rivers. Maggie has been the conservation officer for OCKC for the last five years. During this time she set up guidelines and a template letter for responding to resource applications. She has canvassed club members for support against various resource consent applications mainly on the rivers of Otago but also of the South Island. She has networked with others involved in conservation around the region such as Fish & Game, District Council Members, Ngai Tahu, etc.
Maggie loves nothing more than being in her kayak on a river. She delights in seeing other people developing their skills, enjoying the outdoors and doing so safely. That is a reason she is so passionate about conservation. Over her years of paddling she has seen river after river being taken over by hydro-electricity irrigation or commercial jetboats or tourism. She does not want any more of this whitewater lost.
What Maggie has done for women paddlers also needs mention. She started paddling at a time when it was unusual for women to be paddling and has kept it up over the years despite being busy with family commitments and fulltime employment. She is now an inspiration to older women (and younger ones) in the OCKC that they too can get out and enjoy kayaking, no matter what their age.
Maggie's achievements in kayaking may not be as high profile or as "outstanding" as other people who have been put forward for Canoeist of the Year but I feel that her continual involvement in canoeing, in all its aspects, over nearly 30 years deserves recognition.- Sue Abbott
Alan Bell is representative of those people who are the pivotal in the survival of clubs throughout New Zealand. Not only is Alan Secretary of the Hutt Club, he is the Treasurer and Newsletter Editor. He is often the first point of contact for many kayakers in the Wellington region and his enthusiasm never seems to wane. Above all, Alan is a great communicator. He ensures that people are kept informed either by the monthly newsletter, the email group or by phone. He will often go that extra bit by chasing and encouraging people to have a go.
He is as excited about somebody doing their first 'real' river as he is about his own achievements. Alan ensures everybody has a great time and nobody is left out. For instance, one Sunday the Hutt Gorge (class III) was running but a single class II kayaker turned up for a paddle. Alan did not think it was fair that a paddler should miss out so he went off and did a class II river with the kayaker while everyone else did the Gorge.
Alan promotes the Hutt Club by making contact with paddlers in the area and encouraging them to join. He is conscious that clubs will only survive by encouraging new people to have a go at paddling whether they be juniors or seniors. He is often down at pool nights instructing as well as organising river trips. Alan always has little bits of information and help available to paddlers. He promotes safety and is the person on the trip willing to share his thermos flask with whoever needs warming up.
There is an awareness that clubs need to cater for a wide range of levels and as a result of Alan's efforts the Hutt Club trips are well patronised. The club has quite a few multisport members and Alan ensures that communication between the various interest groups is maintained.
Alan is the person who goes that extra mile. He recognises that paddling is as much social as it is a physical exercise and that ultimately it is about having a good time. He does everything possible to ensure that paddling is a positive experience and it is because of all his efforts we think he should be acknowledged with the award Canoeist of the Year.- Laura Nicol
"Ron is one of those people whose passion for canoeing manifests itself in many ways. Ron instructs, organises races, lobbies DoC, the local council, attends long boring meetings hearings and leads river trips. His interest in the sport is expressed through the enjoyment of others.
I first met Ron when he turned up at a Conservation Board meeting I was chairing. He argued eloquently the case for allowing canoe races on Lake Rotoroa in Nelson Lakes National Park. Later when I joined the Nelson Canoe Club, the was Ron again, instructing and coaching multi-sporters. His name appeared in the club's harbour race and river race results. Ron's name came up in council circles as a frequent spokesperson for recreation on our local rivers. Who drove from Nelson to Christchurch in the middle of winter to attend the NZRCA Annual General Meeting? There was Ron again.
Many of us take it for granted that the rivers will always flow free, that someone will push our case to councils and the government departments, get up in the dark and hitch up a trailer load of boats and drive to the pool, and write submissions when they would rather be out there paddling.
I think Ron sets an example to all of us who share a love for the outdoors with the simple joy of paddling a boat."- Hugh Canard
Rather than offer a "Canoeist of the Year" this year, it seemed more appropriate to recognise the impressive contributions of non-canoeists to white water kayaking. At the 1999 AGM in Wellington, the NZRCA elected Stephen Quinn and Grant Webby the 1999 Non-Canoeists of the Year.
Stephen and Grant were part of the team involved in negotiations with Tranz Rail over extracting boulders from the Clarence River. Their energy and valuable expertise made it possible for the NZRCA to successfully negotiate with Tranz Rail for a kayaker-friendly solution.
Refer Conclusion to the Clarence.
At the 1998 AGM in Wellington the NZRCA elected Colin Leitch the 1998 Canoeist of the Year. The following is based on the nomination letter from the Marlborough Canoe Club. Kayaking in Marlborough had been in decline for some years, with Colin being one of the few people with the commitment to continue paddling. Colin worked on not one but two club committees in Blenheim, as the Secretary/treasurer of the Marlborough Canoe Club, and on the executive committee of the Woodbourne Canoe Club.
As well as running club nights every Wednesday for both Woodbourne CC and Marlborough CC Colin also organises the winter Canoe Polo league, and in summer takes 'learner' trips on a regular basis, almost every weekend. It helps that he is a great paddler as well. It's great to have somebody there that can do all the 'tricks' effortlessly - it gives people something to aspire to - or try to be better than!
Safety is a big issue on these trips and Colin always takes the time with each person to make sure that they fully understand what to do and the safest way to do it. Colin's patience with is amazing. It's not a problem for him to explain the same thing in ten different ways until the person understands. Colin also stores the canoe club equipment, including all of the boats at his house, and sees to the maintenance and upkeep and the equipment. He ensured that it is available and in the best possible condition for club members to use.
The Buller River is Colin's playground, and the conservation of the area is high on his list of priorities. Colin was heavily involved in the application for a Conservation Order on the Buller River, and continues to monitor the area. Colin has run trips with the primary aim of monitoring the effects of works being done on the Lyell Earthquake section. Unfortunately Colin has to leave Blenheim and move to Auckland. While he will be missed in Blenheim, we are sure he will continue his dedication to kayaking in Auckland.
Graham Charles, author of an outstanding guide to New Zealand's best whitewater rivers, has been voted the 1997 Canoeist of the Year. The award was made at the AGM of the New Zealand Recreational Canoeing Association in Christchurch on 23 August 1997.
Graham received the award in recognition of his years of service to the kayaking community, and in particular his writing of the guidebook. He took time out from his position as Chief Instructor at the Sir Edmund Hillary Outdoor Pursuits Centre to complete the guidebook, paddling the majority of runs himself (including one extreme experience on the Kokatahi).
Graham Charles, who is regarded as somewhat of a role model for New Zealand canoeists, has had a long involvement with canoesport, including representing New Zealand in slalom, and competing to a high level in the Coast-to-Coast. He has also been involved for years in promoting safety and conservation issues, as well as being one of the top kayak instructors in New Zealand.
Paul Macey, the Association President, said "Graham inspires people to get out and paddle rivers in a safe and responsible manner, which is the essence of the message of the new recreational association."
The Palmerston North Canoe Club wishes to nominate Donald Johnstone for the New Zealand Canoeing Association canoeist of the year award. Ever since Donald's last year in high school it was apparent to the Palmerston North Canoe Club that he was exceptionally talented in whitewater canoeing. What was not so apparent was that Donald had the initiative, drive and discipline to carry him to the top ranks for his chosen sport. As was customary at the time for the better young canoeists, Donald made several trips to Australia for their whitewater nationals. He was then selected as a member of the NZ national team for the World Championships in 1983 (Italy).
At that point Donald's sporting career differed from those of his predecessors; he persisted, returning to Europe each Northern Hemisphere competition season, largely on his own resources. As his record demonstrates he rose quickly to the top level of international slalom canoeing, with the award of the Continental Cup (combined placing in the Europa and Pro-am Cups) in 1986, and of course his fifth placing in mens K1 slalom at the World Championships in France 1987. Whitewater competition was shown on national TV after Donald's success in the BBC 'paddles up' competition. Donald's results in the 1988 Preworlds (USA) should be available in late June 1988.
Donald's national record is equally as impressive, being national slalom champion six consecutive times. In summary Donald Johnstone is the best competitive whitewater paddler that New Zealand has produced. Donald has made the international canoeing community aware of New Zealand, and has in effect promoted this country's potential as a whitewater nation, so encouraging visits from overseas paddlers (e.g. Richard Fox in 1986/87).
More importantly, Donald has been an inspiration to all whitewater paddlers, whether serious competitors or not, and in an indirect way has raised the overall standard of canoeing in New Zealand. The Palmerston North Canoe Club committee feels that Donald is one of the principal reasons New Zealand has kept up with the rest of the world in regard to available equipment and whitewater techniques. Donald's mechanical mind and inventive instincts has resulted in NZ manufacturers offering equipment that is disputably the best in the world. This includes plastic and competition kayaks, paddles and even roof racks.
Donald's ability to combine work with a successful training programme and yet maintain a relaxed relationship with those around him has enabled him to be of considerable assistance to our other top white water paddlers. Donald, when asked, has always been willing to provide assistance with training programmes, whitewater skills and competition techniques. In this past season he has energetically coached members of the NZ junior slalom team. The Palmerston North Canoe Club committee feels that with Donald actively motivating our junior canoeists he is effectively ensuring the future success of slalom in New Zealand.
The Palmerston North Canoe Club therefore recommends without hesitation that Donald Johnstone is a worthy candidate for the New Zealand Canoeing Association Canoeist of the Year award.
- Brian Fisher, Club Secretary