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NZ Recreation Association Outdoor Awards – NZAC Outstanding Volunteer Award goes to Geoff Spearpoint

NZ Recreation Association

2 September 2016

Awards recognise outdoor achievers, environmental leaders

The organisation behind New Zealand’s national trail, a man on a mission to protect our rivers, and a couple who have helped educate generations were among the award winners at the annual New Zealand Recreation Association Outdoor Awards, held in Wellington last night.

This year’s Supreme Award was presented to husband and wife team John and Christine Furminger, a couple who have between them laid the foundation for many of New Zealand’s most respected outdoor education programmes over the past 40 years.

Environmental Leadership Award winner ‘Didymo’ Dave Cade was a finalist in three award categories this year thanks to his conservation crusade to protect the rivers of the central North Island, while Geoff Spearpoint took home the Outstanding Volunteer Award thanks to his voluntary initiatives to maintain back-country huts.

NZRA Chief Executive Andrew Leslie said the awards provided an important acknowledgement for the people and organisations whose efforts markedly improved outdoor experiences in New Zealand.

“People like John and Christine Furminger, Dave Cade and Geoff Spearpoint contribute a massive amount of personal time and effort into creating better environmental outcomes and ensuring people have the necessary skills and facilities to enjoy the outdoors,” Mr Leslie said.

“This in turn leads to stronger communities, safer outdoor experiences and happier, healthier people. It is only fitting that these people who have devoted their lives to making the world a better place receive some portion the recognition they deserve.”

Organisations featured too, with this year’s Outstanding Event Award going to YMCA Auckland for its Family Camps, held at Camp Adair. The twice-yearly camps have run since 2014, and have found success in their targeted efforts to encourage competence and participation in the outdoors amongst families who otherwise would have found it difficult to access the outdoors together.

The Organisational Excellence Award for 2016 went to Te Araroa Trail for its sustainable, considered and collaborative approach to developing and maintaining a trail network that stretches the length of New Zealand. The New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association was also highly commended in the Organisational Excellence category.

“It was heartening to see so many organisations nominated for their efforts to improve the way we experience the great outdoors,” Mr Leslie said.

“It is vital we continue to recognise the efforts of our outdoor organisations, paid workers and volunteers so they can find support for their efforts to improve outdoor experiences and foster the love of New Zealand’s great outdoors that is ingrained as a part of our culture.”

The Outdoor Awards were presented at an awards dinner held at the James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor during NZRA’s Outdoors Forum. Award sponsors included recreation consultancy Visitor Solutions, the New Zealand Alpine Club, the New Zealand Mountain Safety Council, and industry training organisation Skills Active Aotearoa.


A full list of Outdoor Award winners is available below.

For more information or to arrange an interview, please contact:

James Heffield
New Zealand Recreation Association
021 211 2362 // [email protected] //

2016 Outdoor Award winners

Skills Active Supreme Award
The Skills Active Supreme Award recognises an individual, who has demonstrated outstanding leadership in the outdoor recreation and education sector.

Winner: John and Christine Furminger

Over 40 years, John and Christine have demonstrated consistent service to develop what are now some of the stand-out outdoor education programmes for young people in New Zealand. These programmes include Motutapu Outdoor Adventure Camp, Tihoi Adventure School and the Kahunui outdoor education campus at St Cuthbert’s College. At each of these they have mentored and developed young leaders, improved programmes and developed environmental efforts.


Rachael Moore
‘Didymo’ Dave Cade

Visitor Solutions Environmental Leadership Award
The Visitor Solutions Environmental Leadership Award acknowledges programmes or individuals who have influenced the ecological worldview of participants and/or demonstrated a significant commitment to conservation or protection of outdoor recreation and adventure places.

Winner: ‘Didymo’ Dave Cade

Dave’s mission to protect the rivers of the Central North Island from the spread of Didymo has become legendary. A lot of his work has been self-funded through other conservation activity, in particular inventive ways to recycle. These efforts have, in turn, built wider conservation involvement opportunities for communities. His work in leading by example has sent a clear message to the public about the contribution they can make.


Hillary Outdoors Great Barrier Island
Pohatu Penguins
New Zealand Alpine Club Southland Section

New Zealand Alpine Club Outstanding Volunteer Award
The New Zealand Alpine Club Volunteer Award acknowledges the significant contribution volunteers make to outdoor recreation and education in New Zealand through freely giving their time, energy and commitment to make a positive difference in the community.

Winner: Geoff Spearpoint

In recent years, Geoff has worked to maintain, paint and restore Department of Conservation huts, providing equipment, materials, paint and helicopter costs out of his own pocket rather than relying on funding that could be put to use elsewhere.

His credibility and authenticity have inspired thousands of like-minded trampers across New Zealand. Dozens are following his example at a time when the Department of Conservation has been forced to reach out to volunteers and community groups to do this type of work. Geoff’s efforts have helped to elevate voluntary hut maintenance from an idea into a movement.


‘Didymo’ Dave Cade

Visitor Solutions Outstanding Event Award

The Visitor Solutions Outstanding Event Award recognises the significant contribution events make to outdoor recreation and / or adventure tourism in New Zealand.
Winner: YMCA Auckland Family Camps

Since 2014 this family-based event funded through YMCA initiatives has run twice per year at Camp Adair. It is targeted at families who may not otherwise have the opportunity to access the outdoors, and focuses on bringing them together to build vital skills and participation. For many children, the first experiences they have in the outdoors are with their families, and this event serves as a positive introduction to outdoor experiences that also encourages parents to get active in the outdoors.


The Old Ghost Ultramarathon
The Staples Rodway Challenge

New Zealand Mountain Safety Council Organisational Excellence Award
The New Zealand Mountain Safety Council Organisational Excellence Award is awarded to an organisation in the outdoor sector that is performing at the highest levels. The winning organisation is a valued and effective member of the outdoors community, having achieved excellence in its chosen activity. This award recognises the contribution by such organisations to our society and the long lasting and positive impacts they are making on the wider community.

Winner: Te Araroa Trust

Over a period of many years Te Araroa Trust has developed a highly respected national pathway that extends the length of New Zealand, joining together many iconic outdoor tracks and environments. The Trust and its regional committees have demonstrated organisational excellence through multiple local community-driven initiatives, including a commitment to fighting kauri dieback in Northland. They have also shown foresight through investment in staff professional development and long-term Board planning for a sustainable future, recognition of the full range of needs of trail users, and a collaborative approach with other organisations and landholders.

Highly Commended: New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association (NZOIA)

NZOIA is highly engaged with its membership and provides its members with a real sense of added value in the support it provides. Its recent positive approach has increased collaboration within the outdoors sector and fostered strong relationships. There is also a strong sense of community amongst staff and volunteer members.


YMCA Auckland

YMCA Christchurch

Posted: 06/09/16

Posted By: Margaret McMahon