Te Waitā Award for Sport is special recognition of a sportsperson or member of a sports team who demonstrates excellence in their discipline at a national and/or international level.
The finalists in this category include Olympic gold medalist Lisa Carrington, Waka Ama world champion Tupuria King and All Black Dane Coles.
Just last year, Carrington was named Sportswoman of the Year at the Halberg Awards before claiming the supreme Halberg Award.
At the Rio Olympics, The Tauranga-born athlete took gold in the K1 200m and bronze in the K1 500m, becoming the first New Zealand female to claim multiple medals at an Olympics.
Tupuria King was given the name 'wonder-kid' for his prowess and dominance on the water. The Ngāpuhi youngster is the current New Zealand sprint champion in the Open Men division, having won the 250m sprint five times and the 500m sprint four times consecutively.
King's a member of the New Zealand Elite Men’s V 500 Waka Ama team, after they won gold at the International Va’a Federation World Sprint Championships in Australia against world champions Tahiti.
It’s the first time in more than 12 years that another country has beaten Tahiti in this event to take out the world championship title has also won the bronze medal at the World Waka Ama Sprint Championships in both 2014 in Brazil and 2016 in Australia.
29-year-old Hurricanes and All Blacks player Dane Coles has played a significant role in the success of both teams. He was named the supreme winner at The Dominion Post 2016 ‘Wellys’ Awards at Te Papa.
Coles also won the sport category, captained the Hurricanes to their first Super Rugby title in August 2016 after helping the All Blacks win the 2015 Rugby World Cup.
The winner of this category will be announced tonight at the Matariki Awards, to be held at the Auckland Museum.