A Black Stick, a rowing champion, a kapa haka performer and an international composer were among the 52 students acknowledged for their achievements at this year’s Wallace Group University of Waikato Blues Awards.
The Blues Awards recognise the University’s top students in sports and the creative and performing arts.
The Blues are one of the University’s strongest traditions and a highlight on the University calendar. More than 150 guests attended this year’s event at the Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, including award winners, supporters and sponsors.
The Sportsman of the Year Award went to Black Stick Aidan Sarikaya, and Sportswoman of the Year Award went to champion rower Jackie Kiddle. Kapa haka performer and tutor Khaysharn Kingi-Takoko won the Pou Ahurea (Māori Person of the Year) Award and international composer Xu Tang won the Creative and Performing Arts Person of the Year Award.
One of Xu's compositions was played at the end of the evening, and he says the Blues Awards were a great experience.
“It was really nice to see the University recognise the things I’ve accomplished in the past year – a lot of my success has been thanks to the support I’ve received from the University and my teachers. I would like to say special thanks to Sir James Wallace and the Wallace Corporation for their support.
“The highlight was sharing in each other’s achievements with amazing sports and arts students. All of the recipients were doing incredible things at an international level.”
Also among the winners was All Black hooker Nathan Harris, who returned to the team after overcoming two injuries that kept him off the field. Netballer Sam Sinclair received an award, recognising her contribution to the Silver Ferns, but was unable to be at the ceremony as she’s competing in the Constellation Cup against Australia.
Major award winners
Sportsman of the Year: Aidan Sarikaya
Aidan competed with the Black Sticks at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, bringing home the silver medal. In 2017 he was a call-up for the Black Sticks while in Australia, Pakistan and Japan. He has previously captained the New Zealand Youth Hockey Team for the Youth Olympic Games and played for the Under 21 team in 2016.
Sportswoman of the Year: Jackie Kiddle
Since she started rowing in high school, Jackie has gone from strength to strength on national and international waters. Jackie competed in the New Zealand nationals last year, placing second in the lightweight women’s single, and third in the open women’s double. She won a gold medal lightweight double at the World Rowing Cup III in Lucerne, Switzerland, and silver in the lightweight women’s double at the World Rowing Championships in Florida.
Pou Ahurea (Māori Person of the Year): Khaysharn Kingi-Takoko
Khaysharn actively immerses himself in environments where te reo Māori is dominant: kapa haka, performing arts, bilingual-based productions and kura reo. Khaysharn was involved with the kapa haka group Te Rōpū Manaaki that placed second in the 2017 Te Arawa Secondary Schools kapa haka competition, and Rākaumanga, placing first at the Tainui Waka Secondary Schools kapa haka regionals.
Creative and Performing Arts Person of the Year: Xu Tang
Xu developed his love for music when he began playing the piano at the age of five. In 2017, Xu won the RMN Classical International Composing Competition and Recording Competition in the United Kingdom, as well as NZTrio’s Composing Competition. In June, Xu was awarded ‘Honorary First Degree’ at the 2018 Leopold Auer International Composers Competition in St Petersburg. He has been accepted by SYNTHETIS International Summer Course for composers in Poland.