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Finalists named for ILT Southland Sports Awards
Finalists named for ILT Southland Sports Awards

12 May 2024, 5:00 PM

A star-studded lineup of finalists have been confirmed for this year’s ILT Southland Sports Awards.The annual event, which is presented by Active Southland on behalf of the Southland Amateur Sports Trust, is celebrating its 70th anniversary this year.Southland Amateur Sports Trust trustee Toni Green said it was inspirational to read the list of achievements by Southlanders on the national and international stage from the past 12months.“It’s never an easy job for the judging panel and this year was no exception. There were so many great nominations from across a wide range of sports,” Green said.“The calibre was so high that there were unsuccessful nominations that would have won their respective categories in other years.”Active Southland chief executive Vanessa Hughey-Pol said the awards were a highlight of the year.“This is a tradition which has stood the test of time as New Zealand’s longest-running regional sports awards and we are proud to present it on behalf of the sports sector,” shesaid.“Sport plays a vital role in the wellbeing of our community and these awards create an opportunity to tell some great stories, not only about inspirational achievement, but alsogreat work that sports are doing to make a difference in the community.”There has been a small change to this year’s awards, with the Official and Administrator categories being blended back together after a couple of years as separate awards.Administrator of the Year sponsor BDO have been retained as the sponsor of the prestigious Services to Sport honours, which are unveiled on the night of the awards.This year’s awards are being held on June 7 at the Ascot Park Hotel.ILT Southland Sports Awards 2023-2024 finalists:ILT Senior Sportsperson of the YearSheldon Bagrie-Howley (bowls)Ethan de Groot (rugby)Amy du Plessis (rugby)Kate Heffernan (netball)Tori Peeters (athletics)Leon Samuels (shearing)Tom Sexton (cycling)Corbin Strong (cycling)One NZ Junior Sportsperson of the YearCormac Buchanan (motorsport)Alex Crosbie (motorsport)Benji Culhane (hockey)Marshall Erwood (cycling)Kiseki Fifita (rugby)Caitlin Kelly (cycling)Fynn Mitchell (adventure racing)Jack Taylor (rugby)Kia Southland Team of the YearFEAR Youth (adventure racing)Gore Interclub bowls (bowls)Southern Lads (multisport)Southland Boys’ High School first XV (rugby)GoodTech Team Coach of the YearShaun Cantwell (athletics)Jason Dermody (rugby)Julian Ineson (cycling)Lance Smith (athletics)Creation Signs Official of the YearErin Criglington (cycling)Nicky McNaught (squash)Pete Pasco (cricket)Cassie Watt (rugby)NZME Masters Achievement of the YearDwight Grieve (athletics)Greg Houkamau (touch)Gail Kirkman (athletics)Julie O’Connell (bowls)Ruth Whelan (cycling)Community Trust South Community Impact AwardInclusive Activity MurihikuKā Taoka i Tuku Iho Charitable TrustSouthern Queens BoxingSouthland Triathlon and Multisport Club

Magic beat Steel in final quarter
Magic beat Steel in final quarter

11 May 2024, 11:30 PM

Breaking a tight deadlock, Avis Magic flew home with a dominant final quarter to deliver a compelling 54-45 win over Ascot Park Hotel Southern Steel in Rotorua on Saturday (11 May).With the scores tied at 38-all heading into the final 15 minutes, and the Steel leading, albeit by close margins for large chunks, it was anyone’s game but powered by a quality defensive effort, the Magic flicked the switch with an all-consuming 16-7 finish.After suffering a narrow one-goal loss last week, the Magic rebounded in style to post their second win of the season while completely shutting the Steel out of a bonus point opportunity.The Magic remained with their settled starting seven of recent weeks with the ever-improving trio of Ali Wilshier (wing attack), Claire O’Brien (centre) and Georgie Edgecombe (wing defence) combining in the midcourt.On the other hand, the injury-plagued Steel were forced into another reshuffle after Shannon Saunders was ruled out of the match, resulting in explosive young up-and-comer Ivari Christie getting the nod at wing attack and South African import Jeante Strydom lining up at goal defence.The visitors’ got the early jump to forge a four-goal buffer where the shooter-to-shooter link between Grace Namana and Georgia Heffernan continued to flourish for the Steel. With Christie playing a prominent role in spearheading the southerner’s attack line measured with the Steel’s renowned ball retention, the Magic found few chinks in their opponent’s arsenal.With the Magic threatening to close the gap, the Steel held them at bay to close out the first quarter with a 15-12 lead.With Wilshier and O’Brien swapping positions on the resumption, the Magic were out of the blocks quickly. Flexing their defensive muscle, the combination of Erena Mikaere and Georgia Takarangi orchestrated plenty of turnover opportunities.In three short minutes, the home side had levelled the scores, finding their flow on attack while shooters Saviour Tui and Ameliaranne Ekenasio found their own shooter-to-shooter timing and execution with some standout play.Hitting the lead for the first time after six minutes was a short-lived moment for the Magic, the Steel wresting back the slightest of edges to nose their way back in front of a tight and entertaining match.The Steel crept out to a three-goal lead as the quarter progressed, the Magic ensuring it didn’t stretch out too far when the southerners took a 27-25 lead into the main break.Breaking out to a three-goal lead early in the third quarter, which was quite significant in the context of the game, the Steel were unable to stem a determined fightback from the home side.Led by captain Ekenasio, playing a strong hand through her increased volume and accuracy under the hoop while also being a disruptive influence on defence, the Magic produced a spirited reply to the resilient Steel.A re-jigged defence line with Oceane Maihi producing an energetic performance from goal defence and Takarangi slotting in at wing defence, combined to cause plenty of problems for the Steel. With her long reach, Mikaere was also a menacing presence, disrupting the visiting shooters who became increasingly unnerved as a result.High in intensity and with little separating the combatants, an exciting run to the line was a given when the teams headed into the last break all tied up at 38-apiece.Both ends for the Magic were instrumental in a decisive final quarter for the home side. At the shooting end Tui burst into a dominant force through her athletic and accurate return under the post while at the opposite end, Mikaere was in irresistible form through her turnover and rebounding abilities to deliver her best game of the season and a winning outcome for the Magic.Official Result and Stats: Avis Magic: 54Ascot Park Hotel Steel: 45Champion Data Match CentreShooting Stats - Magic:Saviour Tui 33/37 (89%)Ameliaranne Ekenasio 21/25 (84%)Shooting Stats - Steel:Grace Namana 26/33 (79%)Georgia Heffernan 18/24 (75%)Martina Salmon 1/2 (50%)ANZ Fans' Player of the Match: Ivari Christie (Steel)

Wapiti Foundation & Forest & Bird temporarily pause legal proceedings
Wapiti Foundation & Forest & Bird temporarily pause legal proceedings

10 May 2024, 4:28 AM

Forest & Bird (F&B) and the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation (FWF) have agreed to a pause in legal proceedings over the management agreement between the Department of Conservation (DOC) and the Foundation over how the wapiti herd is managed.  Earlier this year F&B initiated a judicial review of the management agreement between DOC and the FWF, which allows the Wapiti Foundation to control deer numbers, manage a wapiti herd, and carry out other pest-control and conservation work in Fiordland National Park. News of the High Court review prompted fears from FWF that should it be successful, it could spell the end of the wapiti herd as it is currently known.The Foundation immediately started a 'Save the Wapiti' fund to help cover its legal costs and expenses.However in a joint statement issued today (10 May) by F&B and FWF, they said the temporarily adjourn the proceedings until a later date would allow both parties and DOC to investigate a way of managing wapiti which meets both organisations’ interests, including the possibility of designating the wapiti herd as a Herd of Special interest as defined under the Game Animal Council Act 2013. Both F&B and the FWF said they were pleased with the pause on legal action. The 13-year-old wapiti management agreement would remain in force during the adjournment. F&B Chief Executive Nicola Toki said Forest & Bird welcomed the opportunity to work with the Wapiti Foundation and DOC on this critical issue.“There have been inaccurate suggestions that Forest & Bird’s legal action is aimed at exterminating wapiti, with some speculation the judicial review could even mean the end for all game animals.”  “I want to be clear that these suggestions are incorrect. Forest & Bird initiated the legal action to clarify the legality of the wapiti management agreement."“Rather than going to court, we now want to discuss the issue with the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation and DOC to agree on a solution that protects our precious native biodiversity and maintains the integrity of Fiordland National Park." “We don’t believe that the solution would require the extermination of wapiti. We expect the herd will continue to provide an important hunting opportunity and the Fiordland Wapiti Foundation could continue its valuable conservation work.“  FWF spokesman Roy Sloan says the decision to pause legal action was good news. “The Wapiti Foundation stands for conservation and hunting and it would be disappointing for two conservation groups to end up in court arguing over who has the best solution to protecting our precious environment. “A judicial review would waste Forest & Bird's, the Wapiti Foundation’s and DOC’s money and time, diverting funding and key personnel from the front line where all three organisations are doing much needed conservation work.” “The Foundation’s work is a great example of hunters giving back to conservation and the wider community."  “What we do in Fiordland has proven the most effective way of reducing and managing deer numbers, as well as trapping predators and maintaining tracks and huts for all park visitors. “This is both protecting Fiordland’s ecosystem and saving DOC significant amounts of money, which is important when the department is facing hefty budget cuts and hundreds of job cuts. “We look forward to finding a solution that not only meets the needs of both organisations, but more importantly, safeguards our precious wildlife and flora.” 

Roadworks Update 10/5/24
Roadworks Update 10/5/24

10 May 2024, 2:58 AM

Please see below and attached the areas of the Southland state highway network where you are likely to experience delays next week due to programmed works. Highways South work with traffic management in place (all with temporary speed limits):SH1 Bluff highway between Awarua and Greenhills, temporary traffic lights for pavement repairs (multiple locations)SH6 North Road Invercargill, lane drop for pavement repairsSH6 Five Rivers-Lumsden highway at Five Rivers, temporary traffic lights for pavement repairsSH94 Lumsden-Riversdale highway near Old Balfour Road, temporary traffic lights for pavement repairsSH96 Winton-Wreys Bush highway at Transmission Line road, temporary traffic lights for pavement repairs Third party work and events with traffic management in place this week (all with temporary speed limits):SH1 Clyde St, lane drop for potholing * nightworkSH6 North Road Invercargill, lane drop for replacement of valve boxSH6 at Makarewa, stop/go for tree removalSH6 at Centre Bush, stop/go for tree fellingSH6 Garston-Athol highway at Nokomai, stop/go for access constructionSH6 at Garston, stop/go for filming *Saturday 11th May only SH99 at Makarewa River near Wallacetown, temporary traffic lights for widening and cycle path constructionUseful links:NZTA Journeys website - https://www.journeys.nzta.govt.nz/journey-planner Freight Impact Register - https://www.nzta.govt.nz/commercial-driving/trucks-and-tow-trucks/potential-restrictions-affecting-freight/ - download and filter the region for ‘Southland’. This will indicate any upcoming work in the next fortnight which have closures, detours or width restrictions for freight. 

Lachlan Jones: Grandfather tells of mother's plan to leave toddler out of will
Lachlan Jones: Grandfather tells of mother's plan to leave toddler out of will

09 May 2024, 9:49 PM

Lachlan Jones' grandfather Graham Jones has claimed the three-year-old's mother told him she would not leave anything for Lachlan in her will if she died.Lachlan was found in a council sewage pond just over a kilometre from his home in January 2019.Two police investigations found Lachlan accidentally drowned but his father Paul Jones disputes that version of events.An inquest into Lachlan's death has been told of accusations from Paul Jones' lawyer, Max Simpkins, that Lachlan's mother Michelle Officer and her two older sons killed the boy, before storing his body in a freezer and then dumping it into the sewage pond.Paul Jones' father, Graham Jones, said he had no issues with Officer until one day she said, if she died, Lachlan would not be in her will, and only her two older sons would receive everything.Officer was not a good mother, Graham said."Whenever Lachie would come into our home with Michelle, the first thing he would want is food," Graham said."The same when Michelle came - we'd feed her and she would always go back for seconds."When pressed on whether he was suggesting Officer neglected her son, he responded: "I'm not saying that - I'm just saying that he loved his food and always enjoyed that when he came to our place".But when asked directly by Officer's lawyer Beatrix Woodhouse if she was a good mother, Graham responded no.He was aware Officer had a protection order against Paul Jones, but he said his son was a good father."I know who Lachie would rather live with," Graham said.On the night of Lachlan's death, Graham felt the boy's body following his death.Lachlan felt "absolutely frozen", he said.He conceded he could not be sure of what time that occurred, but under questioning accepted it might have been after midnight.Lachlan's body was found at 11.15pm and went missing about two hours earlier."He was frozen, he was frozen," Graham said."That boy was frozen when I felt him. I felt him and his skin wouldn't bend or tuck in at all. He was absolutely frozen and there's only one other person who I've seen like that and that was my wife, when she passed away."Graham said he felt his wife's body at the funeral home a couple of days after her death, but her and Lachlan's bodies felt "identical, very much so".Graham said following Lachlan's death he walked the route police claimed the boy had taken to get to the sewage ponds and he did not believe the three-year-old could have taken the path through thistles and along stone paths."I don't think Lachie is capable of walking that distance," Graham said.Reproduced with permission

Work progressing to eradicate predators from Stewart Island/Rakiura
Work progressing to eradicate predators from Stewart Island/Rakiura

09 May 2024, 8:48 PM

An ambitious project to eradicate Stewart Island/Rakiura of threats to native plants and wildlife is picking up speed.Predator Free Rakiura will become the world’s largest predator eradication project for an inhabited island if successful.In a frank assessment this week, the predator-free goal was described as difficult - but not impossible.It began in 2019 with a memorandum of understanding before gaining traction in 2021 with the establishment of its governing body, Te Puka Rakiura Trust.On Wednesday, trustee Rob Phillips spoke to Environment Southland about the project in his capacity as the regional council's representative.“The reason we’re doing it is we’ve got some pretty special species down there, we just need to protect them,” Phillips said.“The southern dotterel is in trouble at the moment, and so we just need to get this job done, to enable species to thrive and also to be a place where we can reintroduce species as well.”Aside from the dotterel, other species needing protection included the tīeke (South Island saddleback), Rakiura Tokoeka (southern brown kiwi), harlequin gecko, pekapeka (long-tailed bat), plus flora and fauna.That meant six species were on the hit list for eradication: possums, feral cats, hedgehogs, kiore, Norway rats and ship rats.“This is a nationally significant project, (there are) 180,000 hectares down there,” Phillips said.The task was daunting by Predator Free Rakiura's own admission, with its report saying a predator removal project of this scale and complexity had never been achieved.Councillor Maurice Rodway expressed some skepticism, asking if the lofty goal was really attainable.Trust general manager Darius Fagan remained optimistic, saying there was a growing body of knowledge around the country from other predator-free initiativesFagan gave the example of Miramar in Wellington where similar work had been undertaken with the added challenge of being a highly populated area.“Difficult? Yes. Impossible? Don’t think so. Worth trying? Definitely,” he said.In response to a question about community views towards the project, Environment Southland biosecurity and biodiversity operations Manager Ali Meade said they had changed somewhat.Meade — who had been seconded to the project in a part time capacity from January to April — said an increase of visitors to Rakiura since Covid had heightened the concerns of some permanent residents that being predator-free would only increase numbers.“So there has been a slight change in the way people talk about it (but) I think there’s still very much that support for it happening.”The most recent work undertaken by the programme focused on constructing a plan for how the initiative would be delivered.Key focuses for the next 12 months included finalising the implementation plan, progressing a biosecurity plan, delivering a research programme with Manaaki Whenua, and progressing work on Ngāi Tahu aspirations for Rakiura.Achievements so far included building a deeper understanding of Ngāi Tahu expectations, implementing a four-year $2.8 million combined research partnership with Manaaki Whenua, eDNA sampling mice on the island, and surveying hedgehogs.The Department of Conservation was a key partner and funder of the project.Fagan said the project would report back to Environment Southland in the coming months because things were "moving quickly".LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air

Delayed response to Ngāi Tahu water collaboration offer
Delayed response to Ngāi Tahu water collaboration offer

08 May 2024, 5:58 AM

A southern council has deferred its response to an offer of support from Ngāi Tahu, saying it needs more information.The offer — made to Invercargill City Council on March 28 — relates to collaboration for water services on the back of the Government’s Local Water Done Well approach.It followed Ngāi Tahu speaking at a Local Government New Zealand conference in March, where an offer was made to South Island councils to work together with the iwi.But the March letter took until April 30 to reach the council table, and ultimately got delayed from being discussed.Mayor Nobby Clark said he emailed councillors the day before to inform them the report would be pushed back to a later date.“I felt a bit pressured, getting this just before the long weekend and then needing to make some decisions,” Clark told those gathered.Discussions would be had with the chief executive about whether to discuss the item at an extraordinary meeting on May 14, or at the next meeting on May 28.Everybody would need to be in attendance because three waters was “a contentious issue”, he said.In response to questions from Local Democracy Reporting, Ngāi Tahu kaiwhakahaere Justin Tipa explained the offer was made to address the challenge of ensuring safe, affordable and sustainable water services.“Ngāi Tahu aspirations for water services are simply for equitable, safe, sustainable water services for all the communities in Te Waipounamu,” Tipa said.“Because of the existing constructive relationships that Ngāi Tahu has with councils throughout its takiwā, our extensive research into water catchments, as well as experience in large projects, we believe we can assist with coordinating collective efforts between councils, particularly for councils with smaller ratepayer bases.”The offer was to help with logistics and facilitate discussion, not support any particular model, Tipa said.According to the report prepared by council chief executive Michael Day, Ngāi Tahu were offering to provide administrative, technical and political support to a “coalition of willing councils”.Key benefits to the council included enhancing its working relationship with the iwi, gaining cultural perspective and knowledge, and raising the profile of key projects including two wastewater plants and a water treatment plant.Downsides were limited to staff time and an uncertain value of outcomes.The previous government's Affordable Water Reforms — earlier called Three Waters — would have created new water entities responsible for water assets.Those reforms were repealed in February to make way for Local Water Done Well.An advisory board will work on the replacement legislation, which would allow neighbouring councils to voluntarily band together to form council-controlled organisations (CCOs).LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air

NZSO comes to Invercargill next month
NZSO comes to Invercargill next month

07 May 2024, 10:42 PM

Invercargill musicians will get to play alongside the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, when the national orchestra arrives in Southland for two days next month (10-11 Jun).The invitation to local musicians, on 10th June, will be part of a daytime Side-by-Side session.The orchestra will also give a daytime concert the following day, presented by award-winning British music educator, composer and musician presenter Rachel Leach and performing Stravinsky’s captivating The Firebird Suite, for Southland Schools before its evening show entitled Jubilation: Strauss & Shostakovic.The evening performance will feature masterpieces by the two music giants alongside two stunning contemporary New Zealand works.NZSO Music Director Emeritus James Judd, who conducts Jubilation in association with Summerset Retirement Villages, said Invercargill audiences would love the music from two young New Zealand composers, both Todd Corporation Young Composer Awards winners. “Our programme begins with the exuberant Fanfare by Henry Weng whilst the second half of the concert kicks off with the whimsical fantasy world of Sai Natarajan in We Long for an Adventure.”Jubilation is a rare opportunity to enjoy Richard Strauss’ Le Bourgeois Gentilhomme which Judd hails as “a theatrical feast of lively music and moods.”Originally written for a revival of the comic masterpiece of the same name by French playwright Molière, this exquisite work captures the spirit of the play while also expressing Strauss’ genius.Dimitri Shostakovich’s Symphony No. 9, written to celebrate the Soviet victory at the end of the Second World War, was a significant departure from the big statements of his 7th and 8th symphonies. Jubilant, light and bursting with melodies, Judd says critics at the time misinterpreted it as support for Stalin’s regime. “Conductor Leonard Bernstein saw through the ruse and recognised that beneath the surface this music could be seen as ‘a great nose thumb against Stalin’. Underneath lurks complexity, irony and sorrow.”

Council expert loses count of his various jobs
Council expert loses count of his various jobs

07 May 2024, 10:13 PM

Former assistant auditor general Bruce Robertson is in the unique position of not knowing exactly how many jobs he has.But one thing he does know — he still has plenty to keep him busy when he finishes up at Invercargill City Council next month.On Friday, the organisation announced Robertson has resigned as independent chair of the council’s risk and assurance committee, a position he has held since 2019.His resume includes a swathe of past and present independent council roles across the motu, but just how many he currently holds he could not say.“Pass. I couldn’t tell you . . . around about a dozen.”Robertson’s decision to step aside from the Invercargill job was part of him reviewing his current professional commitments.There were also changes happening as part of the consolidation which he wished to keep private.But Robertson did confirm he would be the new chair of Christchurch city’s risk committee from June.“It’s always wise to contemplate your ongoing commitments, and I have a few,” he said.“I’ve reached a point where I need to consolidate.”The past few years had been an important time at Invercargill City Council, he said, including the events surrounding Sir Tim Shadbolt’s final term as mayor.Despite the heavy workload, he still found his various roles “great fun”.“I’m in the privileged position where there are one or two other opportunities opening up.“I have very much enjoyed my time with Invercargill city, it’s not been without its challenges, but it’s been great to work with both the governance team and the management team there.”Invercargill Mayor Nobby Clark thanked Robertson for his contribution last week, saying he helped guide the council through some difficult times.From July, current independent committee member Ross Jackson would take over as chair.Robertson will continue in his position as chair of the Southland District Council finance and assurance committee — a role he’s held since November 2019.In his capacity under that role, he is also an appointee of the Stewart Island Rakiura Visitor Levy Subcommittee, and since November 2023, the Executive Committee.From 2017 to 2022, he was a member of Environment Southland’s organisational performance and audit committee.The Te Anau and Queenstown-based accountant continues to work in other centres across the country, including Hamilton, Wellington and Gisborne.LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air

‘Transport disadvantaged’: Inequity proving a barrier in Invercargill
‘Transport disadvantaged’: Inequity proving a barrier in Invercargill

07 May 2024, 10:04 PM

Transport inequities are proving a barrier for some young people in Invercargill, preventing them from joining in group activities.The issue was highlighted at an Invercargill City Council infrastructure services committee meeting on Tuesday, where public transport fares were discussed.During debate, councillor Grant Dermody said he wasn’t clear on what the 30 year vision for public transport looked like for the city.Dermody said the council needed to look at connecting its network to different areas, such as Bluff or Sandy Point.Council manager strategic asset planning Doug Rodgers agreed there was work to be done.“I met with community leaders in South City, just regarding that very fact, that young people have difficulties getting to sport on a Saturday because mum and dad basically are transport disadvantaged, they don’t have a vehicle,” Rodgers said.“They can’t get to sports practice during the week.“These are things that come into that larger strategic view of what we want to provide, and what we can provide.”The public transport report tabled at Tuesday’s meeting was a follow-up to an April report which highlighted a $95,000 hole for the council on the back of a Government announcement it would no longer fund free public transport for under 13s, or half price fares for under 25s.Tuesday's report was requested for by councillors, and provided more information ahead of upcoming long term plan deliberations.It showed that while patronage was on the rise — around the 150,000 patron-per-annum mark — it had dropped from over 200,000 in 2015/16.The largest cohort of users were youths and children, with only about 30 percent of patrons classified as adults, Rodgers said.A range of options were presented to councillors in lieu of the Government pulling back on its subsidy, but no decision would be made until the deliberations took place.Options ranged from providing free fares for all users at a cost of $170,000 to the council, to charging a flat $3 fare for all users over 5 years of age, which would bring in $496,000.Deputy Mayor Tom Campbell requested staff provide a net cost to council for various options, while mana whenua representative Pania Coote expressed her hopes for the bus service to extend to Bluff.LDR is local body journalism co-funded by RNZ and NZ On Air

Te Anau volunteer honoured
Te Anau volunteer honoured

07 May 2024, 9:41 PM

Passionate volunteer Abi James has been honoured with a Community Service Award.Ms James has dedicated many hours to creating events for the Te Anau and Fiordland community. Despite being in the area for a short time, her tireless dedication has made an impact that will be felt for years to come.She was presented with a Southland District Council/Fiordland Community Board Community Service Award by Southland District Mayor Rob Scott at Ivon Wilson Park during one of her Fiordland Outdoor Playgroups on Monday 6 May.Ms James has organised and facilitated a multitude of different events to the benefit of not only the tamariki and rangatahi of Fiordland, but also the wider community.Some of the events she has facilitated include the creation of the Fiordland Outdoor Playgroup, which promotes unstructured free play for families and young children.Thanks to her generosity of time and skills the Fiordland Community Fun Day has grown into a regular Te Anau event.Ms James facilitated the Pukapuka party, focusing on getting children involved in fun games and activities, and the Kite and Kēmu event in 2023, where kites were made and traditional Māori games were played to celebrate Matariki.She supported Te Anau’s Story Walk open day by volunteering her time to share equipment for the event.Ms James ensures the local environment benefits too from her initiatives. Participating whānau of Fiordland Outdoor Playgroup make a small donation which is then given to local environmental projects. In all the events and activities Ms James has been involved in, she has done everything with heart and continues to shape the minds of Fiordland’s tamariki.“Fiordland’s a better place for the countless hours of time and energy that Abi has put into this place,” Mayor Scott said.

Te Anau Tennis star wins $100,000 tournament
Te Anau Tennis star wins $100,000 tournament

06 May 2024, 7:36 PM

23-year-old Te Anau born Lulu Sun has claimed the biggest title of her career, winning the $100,000 World Tennis Tour tournament in Bonita Springs, Florida, USA (29 Apr - 5 May).In the final, against America’s Maya Joint, Sun produced one of her most impressive performances of the week, winning 6-1 6-3.Sun had won six WTT tournaments previously, one W80 title, a W50, a W25 and three W15 titles, but this victory stands out as the best moment in her career.Seeded No 2 for the tournament, Sun went in as one of the favourites and she showed she was able to handle the expectation that goes along with that. In the final against the 18-year-old Joint, Sun won 83 per cent of the points when she got her first serve in and managed to break her opponent five times.Sun is anticipated to climb to a career-high world ranking of around 132 by winning in Bonita Springs, which takes her closer to making it onto the direct acceptance lists for grand slams.After winning the singles at this tournament, Sun was back on court later in the day for the doubles final, where she and her Hungarian partner Fanny Stollar defeated Valentini Grammatikopoulou from Greece and Ukraine’s Valeriya Strakhova 6-4 7-5 to make it a perfect day for the Te Anau born Sun.Although Pannu wasn’t able to claim the title, it was an excellent week for him and it will no doubt be a confidence boost to make it all the way to the final.Sun’s doubles ranking is expected to improve by about 100 spot to take her to around 323 when the rankings are next released. 

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