Friday night saw the celebration of the Tararua region’s top sportspeople at the Downer Tararua Sports Awards, held at the Dannevirke Town Hall.

The evening celebrated and recognised the achievements over the last two years. Taking out the Downer Supreme Sportsperson of the Year was water sports star, Anne Cairns.

Cairns, who represented Samoa at the 2016 Rio Olympics, is also the first female to represent New Zealand across four disciplines: Wildwater kayaking, Sprint Flatwater Kayaking, Whitewater Rafting and Waka Ama. The professional firefighter was the obvious inspiring choice for the judging panel.

The crowd was also treated to a newly returned Commonwealth Games sports star speaking at the awards, with paraswimmer Chris Arbuthnott not only winning the Tararua District Council Junior Sportsman of the Year  but taking the couch for a Q&A session with MC, James Oliver.

Oliver, son and younger brother of former All Black Captains Frank and Anton Oliver, jetted in fresh from attending the famous United States music festival Coachella.

Joining Arbuthnott on the Q&A couch was local sporting hero Naioma Chase, who took out the Hawke’s Bay Today Administrator/Volunteer of the Year.  Chase, who drove the reinvigoration of the Dannevirke Tigers Sports Club, was the Sport Manawatu Regional Sportmaker of the Year winner in 2017.  The club, which with Chases’ input and drive, went from housing one team to today calling over 230 people members, also took a club win with the U17 Tigers taking out Property Brokers Team of the Year.

The event was a sold out affair with over 160 people in attendance, with local favourite caterers Black Stump Café providing the fare.

Sport Manawatu CEO Trevor Shailer says the Downer Tararua Sports Awards are an important part of the region’s rich community spirit.  “Without evenings such as these awards, we wouldn’t be able to celebrate individuals and teams who work tirelessly to achieve on the local, national and international stages.  Tararua is a breeding ground for sportspeople who not only have a love of sport, but a love of community too. It’s fantastic to be able to recognise the last two years of success in the region.”

The youngest finalist was eight year old Maz Parkes, who ‘caught the motocross bug’ at just 6 years of age and was crowned National Champion in his class in 2017. While not necessarily the oldest finalist, Masters athlete Laurie Malcolmson is hailed as a local legend with five current Nationals Masters records under his belt and the number one world ranking for 300m hurdles.


Tararua Mayor, Tracey Collis presented the awards for Junior Sportswoman and Sportsman of the Year.


Award winners below.

2018 Downer Tararua Sports Awards Winners

Visique Optometrists Sportsperson of the Year

Anne Cairns


Tararua District Council Junior Sportswoman of the Year

Rachel Cannon


Tararua District Council Junior Sportsman of the Year

Chris Arbuthnott


Dannevirke Carriers Official of the Year

Rebecca Mahoney


Dannevirke New World Coach of the Year 

Kevin Laskey


Hawkes Bay Today Administrator/Volunteer of the Year

Naioma Chase


Property Brokers Team of the Year

Dannevirke Tigers Boys U17 Rugby League Team


Visique Optometrists Personality of the Year Award

Kevin Laskey


Downer Supreme Award – Anne Cairns