If it takes a village to raise a child, then it is the people of the community who can make a sportsperson.

This was the view expressed by many of the honoured recipients at the 2017 Ray White Whanganui Sports Awards at a packed War Memorial Hall on Friday evening.

Ultimately, the final curtain calls were shared by expat Whanganui rowers and reigning world champions Kerri Gowler and Chris Harris, who had a sensational year in the women's pairs and men's doubles respectively.

They were able to see off Le Man's winner and soon-to-be crowned FIA World Endurance champion Earl Bamber for both the International Senior Sportsperson and Supreme Winner awards.


Gowler, who would undertake 50km training rows on the Whanganui river in her youth, acknowledged her rowing family, specifically mum and dad.

"Thank you to AWRC for all your continued support."

For Harris, 2017 has been a year of redemption after the disappointments of the Rio Olympics.

"It's awesome to be recognised and especially with Kerri, she's a special athlete," he said.

"As a kid, I hopped in a boat, and got to fulfil my dream of being a world champ."

Both rowers had used up all their anecdotes when they returned to the stage for the Supreme Award presentation, so Harris took the moment to make sure everyone will be at the upcoming Billy Webb Challenge.

"John [Storey] and I will be racing next weekend, hopefully you come down and have a watch."

The pair made an agreement where the International trophy will stay with Gowler for the next 12 months, while the Supreme award is in the Harris household.

While neither rower is known for their public speaking, they could take notes from a couple of the talented youngsters who took the dais with a prepared quip.

Taihape's world youth karate champion Erika Elers was recognised with the International Junior award ahead of judo practitioner Keightly Watson, which was "another huge shock" after previously being honoured at the Whanganui Secondary School Awards.

Elers brought the house down with her unique manner of paying homage to one Miho Davis.

"She pushes me to be my best, and all my team mates.

"She is also my dean at high school, and she is also my mother."

National Junior sportsperson winner Liam Back could easily have a future in politics with the way he won over the room.

The national cross country champion from Collegiate beat out kayaking talent Jack Clifton and hockey prodigy Emma Rainey as the other finalists from a stacked field.

"I came down from Auckland, and I can tell you right now, the facilities here are a lot nicer than up there," Back exclaimed to an approving cheer.

Receiving his second Coach of the Year award, beating out former award winners Sean Brown (mixed touch) and Peter Belliss (lawn bowls) as finalists, kayaking guru Brian Scott put the thanks back on those alongside him.

This included his wife, both on and off the water, his parents, and the young members of his Whanganui Multisport Club who show up day in and day out.

"No coach can look that great if they don't have a bunch of athletes that get out there and do the work.

"Communities go really well when people put time back into them."

Thanking the people was also the theme which Steelform Wanganui co-coach Jason Hamlin emphasised as he spoke for former captain Peter Rowe, Campbell Hart, Lindsay Horrocks, and selector Marty McGrath when they represented the Senior Team of the Year winners.

Undefeated in their 2016 Meads Cup campaign, Wanganui beat out the AWRC Coxless quad and the national 4WD 4x4 champions Hamish Auret and Paul Barnes for the award.

"If you ask me what makes this team successful...it's people, it's who we are," said Hamlin.

"Because of them, it's you, and we'd like to thank you for the support you've given us over the years."

AWRC rower Luke Watts spoke about what a tough year it had been for his rowing crew mates, after he was announced as the National Senior Sportsperson winner, ahead of finalist Reen Stratford (lawn bowls).

Watts also acknowledged his biggest supporters in mum and dad.

"Thank you for staying with me, supporting me for all these years."

But no one had walked a longer, tougher road to receive a sporting accolade than late All Black Peter Henderson, whose Hall of Fame induction was accepted by WRFU chairman Jeff Phillips on behalf of the Henderson family.

Henderson was banned by the NZRU for 38 years in 1950 at age 24 for accepting an offer to play league in England - a requirement to pay his income taxes after losing his dental technician job following a six month All Blacks tour.

The ban, which son Ian Henderson said in a provided statement was "a severe disappointment", would end in 1989, just six years before rugby union itself went professional.

Before his departure, Peter Henderson played 26 games for Wanganui, with his superb speed earning him the black jersey.

"Whanganui always held a special place in his heart and he was proud to attend the jubilee [in 2012]," read Ian Henderson's message.

Standing side by side and taking great mirth that the on-screen photo captions had got them mixed up were the two Lints - father Alan Bruce and son Alan Brodie.

The two former New Zealand hockey players and top administrators were delighted to receive their family's Hall of Fame induction.

"I'm not humble, I'm proud to be here, it's an amazing award to get," said Lints senior.

He talked about being in a Wanganui representative team that could hold their own against Japan, Canada, Pakistan and Australia, while being proud that at one time the local scene had more registered A Grade umpires than Christchurch or Auckland, many of the them being current players.

"They [regular umpires] got a lot of advice from the players on the field."

Lints Jr spoke about how he had followed his father's path right down the line, and hoped similar pathways in this more politically correct world would not be completely closed off to the next generation.

"Dad, you got me a job at the freezing works, I'm happy to follow in your footsteps.

"Our day's gone, we can be celebrated, but the youth [go on]."

Award winners

NZCT National Senior Sportsperson of the Year: Luke Watts (Rowing).

Stirling Sports National Junior Sportsperson of the Year: Liam Back (Athletics).

Stihl Shop Wanganui Club of the Year: Marton Rugby Club.

Mars Petcare Coach of the Year: Brian Scott (Kayaking).

Treadwell Gordon Junior Team of the Year: Whanganui High School Mixed Touch Team.

Ali Arc Senior Team of the Year: 2016 Steelform Wanganui Rugby Team.

David Jones Motors Masters Award: Krystine Davies (Inline Speed Skating).

Velo Ronny's Bicycle Store International Junior Sportsperson of the Year: Erika Elers (Karate).

Mitre 10 MEGA International Senior Sportsperson of the Year: Chris Harris and Kerri Gowler (Rowing)

Ray White Wanganui Supreme Award: Chris Harris, Kerri Gowler.

Other awards

Rivercity Gas Disabled Sportsperson Recognition: Grant McCullough (Indoor Bowls, Bocce); Jacob Spooner (Wheelchair Rugby).

NZME Services to Sport Recognition: Mark (Boofy) Green (Rugby); Trevor Fowler (Water Skiing); Paul Maguire (Football); Kate Osborne (Netball); Frances Bayler (Hockey).

Sport Whanganui Roll of Honour Inductees (25+ year's volunteer service to sport): Grant Clark (Softball, Golf); Trevor Strong (Football); Peter Follows (Golf); Pat Follows (Golf); Felix Bell (Netball); Janice Vipond (Harriers); Naomi Wilson (Hockey).

Whanganui Sports Hall of Fame Inductees: Peter Henderson (Rugby); Alan Lints Sr and Alan Lints Jr (Hockey).

Tupoho Scholarship Recipients: Shamara Brooks (Rugby, Touch); Benet Kumeroa (Weightlifting); Jesse Malcolm (Boxing); Tonianne Robinson (Waka Ama).