Whakatane DC win Tri Series CEO Challenge


The final act of the 2014/15 Sovereign Tri Series saw the Whakatane District Council recognised for a truly amazing effort to improve their health and fitness over the summer through their participation in the Sovereign CEO Challenge, an effort that will ultimately lead to the presentation of a cheque for $25,000 to their chosen charity, the Kirsty Lang Family Trust.

Whakatane District Council (WDC) were named as the inaugural winners of the Sovereign CEO Challenge by Sovereign CEO Symon Brewis-Weston today. Designed to motivate businesses to improve their health and wellbeing through the inspiration (and perspiration) of their own leaders, the Sovereign CEO Challenge engaged businesses throughout New Zealand across the six-event Sovereign Tri Series.

In the end though, there was no doubt as to the winner. Led by Chief Executive Marty Grenfell’s personal drive, the WDC clocked up an incredible 153 entries in the Sovereign Tri Series across the summer, with an amazing 120 plus registered at their ‘hometown’ event the Sovereign Tinman at Mount Maunganui in December.

Sovereign CEO Symon Brewis-Weston said Whakatane District Council were worthy winners who have set an incredible example for others to follow.

“The CEO Challenge was designed to encourage more Kiwis to get active and it has been inspiring to see so many CEOs across the country lead by example. However, the leadership and drive demonstrated by Marty and his team at Whakatane District Council has been extraordinary,” says Sovereign CEO Symon Brewis-Weston.

“It’s hard to find the time within our daily lives for more exercise, but WDC are proof that if you create a culture of taking charge within an organisation, backed by strong leadership, it’s possible. I have no doubt the positive impact on staff health, motivation and wellbeing will be profound and I hope it inspires other businesses to do the same.”

The winning business was chosen based on the percentage of participations throughout the Sovereign Tri Series compared to the total number of their workforce. Grenfell and his WDC team made no race of it, with their winning percentage of 85% an amazing return.

Grenfell spoke of the pride in his team and what the Sovereign CEO Challenge has done not just for his staff, but for their families as well

“The Sovereign Tri Series CEO Challenge has absolutely galvanised council staff, bringing together people from every work group, plus family members and a number of people from our partner organisations. As a result, we’re a fitter and more together team and for many of us, there have been life-changing benefits. We’ve challenged and extended our boundaries and that has been hugely positive.

“As an organisation, we relish a challenge and we’re also very keen to get involved in activities that promote employee health and wellbeing. The Sovereign CEO Challenge ticked all the right boxes and really got our team excited about what they could achieve on a personal and corporate level.”

The charity chosen by the WDC is incredibly close to them and the community in which they operate. The Kirsty Lang Family Trust. Kirsty was a valued staff member of the WDC who sadly passed away as the result of a brain tumour in 2014. A Trust was subsequently set up to ensure that Kirsty and Rob’s children were cared for in the future, given that Kirsty was the main income earner in the family, her passing has hit them in so many ways aside from the clear emotional distress.

Grenfell spoke from the heart knowing the difference this will make to the Lang family.

“Our colleague Kirsty Lang died in 2014 after a brave battle with cancer. The Kirsty Lang Family Trust has been set up to help provide for the educational needs of Kirsty and Rob Lang’s children and Council staff are thrilled that their efforts have helped create a better future for a young family whose Mum was taken in such an untimely way.

“I couldn’t be more proud of my team and their response to this challenge. The fact that it ensures that the family of a much-loved staff member will have a more secure future is the icing on the cake.”

Sovereign and Triathlon New Zealand will be paying a visit to the WDC in the coming weeks to formally present the cheque and to meet many of the incredible team who pushed themselves beyond their personal comfort zones and in doing so made a difference as they ‘took charge’ of their health and wellbeing, all for a great goal.

Brewis-Weston can’t wait to personally meet those who have thrown themselves into the Sovereign CEO Challenge and made such a huge difference.

“It’s uplifting to know the prize money will go to such a worthwhile cause and I’m really looking forward to meeting everyone who has participated and supported the Whakatane team along the way. I hope it inspires other companies to accept the challenge next season and make a difference not only to their lives, but the lives of others,” says Brewis-Weston.

2014/15 Sovereign Tri Series saw events hosted in Mount Maunganui, Wanaka, Kinloch, Takapuna, Wellington and Christchurch. The 2015/16 Sovereign Tri Season will be launched in September this year, confirming dates, venues and event options.