The women were the big winners at last night's Halberg Awards, with champion shot-putter Valerie Vili taking home the annual supreme title and retired rowing champs Caroline and Georgina Evers-Swindell being named Sports Champions of the Decade.

The golden girls - now Georgina Earl and Caroline Meyer - enjoyed a golden night when they headed off other Halberg Award winners from 2000-09, including Vili.

The twins' back-to-back double scull golds at the Athens and Beijing Olympics gave them the edge over the other contenders.

Receiving the award to a standing ovation, the pair paid tribute to their coach, Dick Tonks, and their families and sponsors.

"We never rowed for recognition," Georgina told the audience. "We had a wonderful 15 or so years involved in rowing and we always considered ourselves very lucky in being in what we think is the dream job."

Vili described her third successive supreme award as "incredible" and admitted to being "humbled and honoured" by her win.

She dedicated the award to coach Kirsten Hellier and likened their 11-year relationship to a marriage. "We have spent more time with each other than with our husbands."

Some of New Zealand's biggest sporting names donned their finery for the star-studded event, held at the SkyCity Convention Centre.

The evening began with laughter and applause as a music video featuring many top athletes was played.

Boxer David Tua, Vili, rower Mahe Drysdale, Silver Fern Maria Tutaia and others were dressed in hip-hop gear as they promoted the Halberg Trust and encouraged youngsters to get involved in sport.

The audience erupted as the video clip ended with a shot of Sir Murray Halberg dressed in a red velvet robe and sporting a large silver chain and signet ring while bobbing his head in hip-hop style.

Awards MC Andrew Mulligan, from the television show The Crowd Goes Wild, later described the 5000m gold medallist at the 1960 Rome Olympics as "the Hugh Hefner of New Zealand".