Two of the biggest sports events held in Tauranga in 2017 - the annual AIMS Games and the World Junior Squash Championship - are finalists in the Best Sports Event of the Year at the New Zealand Events Association annual awards night.

One of them has been nominated in a second category for Best National Event against other finalists from social and business events and organisers of the other have been inspired to bid to host another international event.

The AIMS Games, a multi sport event for intermediate school age pupils attracts more than 10,000 competitors to the city for a week each September while the World Junior Squash Champs, held in Tauranga and Te Puke in July of last year featured competitors from 27 nations.

These two are finalists in Best Sports Event of the Year and are against the Crankworx Mountain Biking festival in Rotorua and the only non Bay of Plenty finalist, Auckland Urban Polo.


For Wayne Werder, the chair of the organising committee for the 2017 World Junior Squash championships and a former Commonwealth Games player himself, last year's event has inspired his team to try and bring the World (Senior) Teams Championships to Tauranga in 2021.

"The last time that event was in New Zealand was 1983. Our bid has just gone in and we should know early next year if we've been successful," he says.

"The great advantage we have is that the World Squash Federation saw with the juniors that we can deliver events of this scale in Tauranga."

The World Juniors used courts at Te Puke, Mount Maunganui and at the Devoy Squash and Fitness Centre in 13th Ave for preliminary round games. Many of the key games, as well as the finals, were all played at a specially constructed show court set up at the Queen Elizabeth Youth Centre. It had four glass walls and allowed the organisers to put up stadium seating all around the court.

"We're clearly delighted to make the final of this award," Werder says.

"It was over a year ago and the dust has well and truly settled on those championships. Now we're ready for the next level."

"But it's amazing that three out of the four in this (Best Sports Event) category are from our region. It just shows how good the event capability is in this city and in the wider Bay of Plenty."

The AIMS Games Games are also up for Best National Event against 50 Years of Fieldays, Wellington's Beervana food and drink show and the Homegrown music festival, the Marlborough Vineyard Half Marathon and the famous Warbirds over Wanaka airshow.


Vicki Semple, the AIMS Games director says she is absolutely thrilled the games are a finalist twice.

"We're fiercely proud that we've been able to grow and develop the Anchor AIMS Games from right here in Tauranga, using local expertise and fantastic venues," she said.

"From relatively humble beginnings in 2004, the tournament has helped put Tauranga on the map as a genuine sporting destination and provides incredible memories for an entire generation of athletes. These nominations are also a fitting tribute to one of our tournament founders and visionaries Brian Diver from Tauranga Intermediate who is retiring early next year."

The Event Awards are run by the New Zealand Events Association. The judging panel comprises people from the arts, sport, sponsorship and business sectors. The events are judged on their uniqueness, innovation and legacy, as well as sound management, strategic planning and clear objectives.

The award winners will be announced in Auckland on March 26, 2019.

Last year New Plymouth's WOMAD was the Best National Event while Best Sports Event is a new category this year.