By Dave Murdoch
Tararua's first sports awards for two years covered sporting achievements from January 1, 2019, to December 31, 2020, and a huge turnout at the Dannevirke Town Hall celebrated the successes and achievements of athletes and teams over this difficult period.
With MC Wairarapa MP Kieran McAnulty at the helm, the evening moved along quickly with a blend of respect for achievement and humour.
Mayor Tracey Collis talked about the role of sport in Tararua, saying "sport grows great citizens", and went on to marvel at the talent Tararua has been able to produce.
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She introduced the kapa haka group Te Rangi Kaha, who have qualified for the National Te Matatini competition in Nelson.
CEO of Sport Manawatu Trevor Shailer spoke of his memories boxing in the town hall and the value of sport before announcing the Sport Manawatu Legend of Sport to Suresh Patel QSM.
Then the awards were announced, all the nominees being introduced and the winner presented with their award, by the sponsor.
Bush Telegraph-sponsored administrator/volunteer of the year Kelly Gillard said all of Tararua's junior athletes need support, no matter what school they attend, because they deserve the opportunity to achieve nationally.
Coach of the year Pete Arnott said his success was due to his students, adding that students should always be complimented for doing something right as often as being criticised for doing something wrong.
While Supreme Award winner Megan Hull could not attend, she delivered a video message saying winning the award "was a massive privilege given the calibre of the nominees," that it was "great for a girl from Pongaroa to be in this position", apologising for non-attendance as "she was in heavy training for Black Stick games against Australia" and "inviting people to come and watch in Palmerston North."
Guest speaker Kingi Kiriona expressed his great joy to be back in Tararua after a lengthy period away in the entertainment and broadcasting industry. He sang the old North School song "Play the Game" and went on to describe how the pursuit of winning the top Te Matatini prize in kapa haka had strong parallels with sport.