Levi Harmon making a break for the Wellington sevens team earlier this year. PHOTO/GETTY IMAGES

SPORTS AWARDS

JAKE BELESKI
jake.beleski@age.co.nz

The time for celebrating Maori sporting achievements in Wairarapa is fast approaching once again.

Nominations for the Wairarapa Maori Sports Awards — hosted by Whaiora — are open, with this year’s ceremony to take place at Copthorne Resort Solway Park on November 29.

Nominations close on October 1.

The awards were developed in 2007 by the late Jeff Workman and this year’s ceremony will take in achievements from October 1, 2017 through to September 30, 2018.

Workman developed the awards to celebrate Wairarapa Maori sporting participation, achievement and excellence within Wairarapa, and to showcase positive role models within the region.

In 2015, the Jeff Workman Memorial Award was introduced to the awards night, which is known as the People’s Choice Award and the public get to vote to determine the recipient from a list of awards finalists.

Last year’s overall Sportsperson of the Year, Levi Harmon, has been making his mark as a rugby player in Wellington.

Harmon, a former Wairarapa College student, was a member of the Wellington Lions squad last year, and also played for the New Zealand development sevens team.

He also played for the Wellington sevens team and was a member of the New Zealand wider sevens squad.

Ronald Karaitiana, chair of the Wairarapa Maori Sports Awards committee, said last year had been the most successful edition of the event since it began 11 years ago.

“We had the most nominations last year and that has kind of echoed into this year — a lot more people are engaged and involved.

“The committee are excited about putting on another spectacular event — it’s a calendar event that’s been marked in Maori calendars since its inception.”

As well as rewarding those who have shown their sporting excellence throughout the year, it is also a chance to acknowledge those who are role models in the community.

“Jeff [Workman] used to talk about how a kid in sport is a kid out of court.

“Those champions become leaders in our community and it’s certainly been something we’ve come to really enjoy in terms of getting more leaders, not only in the sporting area but in other aspects as well.”

A panel of experts will pick the winners in each category, and nominations are expected to come from a wide range of sports.

Previous finalists have come from sports such as swimming, rugby, chess, boxing, shearing, motorcycling and canoe polo.

“Things that are growing are things like Maori sports,” Karaitiana said.

“What we’re doing here rates really highly in terms what is happening around the country.”

Another committee member, Anita Roberts, said they were hopeful this year’s event would be as big as last year’s.

“About 280 people attended last year and years previously were around 180.”

Voting for the People’s Choice Award will open once the finalists have been announced.