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The New Zealand Universities Blues Award is the highest sporting accolade given in the NZ tertiary system. It is part of a tradition dating from 1922 in New Zealand and earlier in England, where the colours of Oxford and Cambridge Universities came to be a symbol for sporting excellence.
Sporting ‘blues’ have been made famous by the rivalry between England’s most famous universities, Oxford and Cambridge. ‘Oxford’ blues were only awarded for ‘real’ sports, such as rowing, rugby and cricket. Athletes in other codes could only aspire to half blues. One Irish University purportedly awards top athletes ‘pinks’.
Massey University’s earliest recipient of a New Zealand University Blues Award was Mac Cooper in 1934 for Rugby. Mac Cooper also won a Rhodes Scholarship in 1934 and played against the NZ All Blacks in 1935 for Oxford and Scotland. George Robinson and Eric Orgias were awarded Blues in 1935 for Athletics. Hockey player Hector Lawry also won an NZU Blue in 1935.
In 1990, Massey University resurrected the practice of awarding blues to its top sporting students in all sports with the Massey Blues Awards, funded by the University and the Students’ Association, with sponsorship from the Bank of New Zealand. A selection committee was elected and a formal set of guidelines for potential recipients established, to ensure a high standard and consistency across the codes. Improved marketing and an increasing student role saw an increase in student nominations.
From 1990-1994 the annual MUSA Sportsperson of the Year award was made to an outstanding sports achiever. From 1995 onwards individual MUSA Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year awards have been presented. In 1999, the major sponsor Bank of New Zealand introduced a trophy for Sportsman and Sportswoman of the Year for both the Palmerston North and Albany campuses.
Outstanding Contribution Awards have been presented since 1991. These awards recognise those who work behind the scenes in areas such as coaching, fundraising or provision of administrative support to club sports, cultural activities or international clubs and societies.
With the diverse range of excellence in the world of the arts and design, 1997 saw the first Cultural Award presented, in addition to the sporting Blues.
The University values the event and genuinely wishes to honour the individual achievers. Students nominated must excel in their chosen sport or cultural pursuit, as well as their academic studies. A huge commitment and discipline are required to be a Blues Award recipient, as students must successfully juggle the often-weighty workloads of university study with heavy training and performance schedules.
Page authorised by Chairperson, Sports Forum
Last updated on Thursday 01 August 2019