Blake medal to honour leaders

A new award bearing the name of a great New Zealand sailor is seen as a way of giving outstanding leaders wider recognition.

The Sir Peter Blake Trust has begun calling for nominations for the inaugural Blake Medal, an annual prize open to New Zealanders.

The first medal will be presented by Governor-General Dame Silvia Cartwright in Wellington on July 23. Among those present at the black-tie function will be Sir Peter’s widow, Lady Pippa Blake.

The trust has also opened applications for the Sir Peter Blake Emerging Leader Awards, which will be presented on the same night to six young people regarded as leaders with considerable potential.

Trust executive director Mark Orams said that, while New Zealand had awards for service and achievement, there was a shortage of those given explicitly for leadership.

"Peter Blake was a great leader, but New Zealand has had many other great leaders - Fred Hollows, Rewi Alley, Dame Whina Cooper, Kate Sheppard, Ernest Rutherford, Edmund Hillary ...

"You can go through leaders who have been significant not just in a New Zealand context, but on the world stage. We have more of those now and we need to recognise them more widely than we currently do."

Dr Orams said people in all fields of endeavour were eligible for the Blake Medal.

He said the qualities that Sir Peter possessed would have made him successful in whatever he took up, and it just so happened that his particular passion was yachting.

"Leadership manifests itself in a lot of different ways," he said.

"It’s the universal ingredient in significant success when people take on a challenge, and challenges come in many shapes and forms."

Sir Peter, who set numerous sailing records and led Team New Zealand to its America’s Cup triumph in 1995, was killed by pirates in December 2001 during an environmental voyage on the Amazon. He was 53.

The trust set up in his name aims to encourage environmental awareness and develop leadership.

- NZPA

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