The University of Canterbury’s signature awards night, humbly named ‘The Blues Awards’, is once again taking place in 2021. Continuing the tradition of recognizing Canterbury’s highest calibre students in the areas of sports, community engagement, and the arts.
This is just the third year that UCSA has recognized people in all these fields. Previously, The Blues were exclusively for those who excelled in sports, following in a long history of universities that adhered to a tradition of ‘Blues’ awards in sport. Originally started by the Cambridge (light blue) and Oxford (dark blue) Universities awarding students for sporting excellence, The Blues Awards have become a universal symbol of sporting excellence.
No less here at UC.
It was all the way back in 1913 that the UCSA first realised that many of its students displayed immense sporting prowess. 10 members of the University Rugby Team were awarded Canterbury University’s first ever Blues Awards after a successful season. After the first ever Blues Awards, the event began expanding, giving more awards away, for more sporting achievements.
The Blues Awards remained a pillar of student culture and a symbol of physical achievement at the University right up until World War 2.
With World War 2 over, the Blues Awards were temporarily forgotten and were dormant for 20 years, being resurrected in 1963 by the UCSA’s Sports Officer at the time, Quentin Tapsell. Over the next decade the Blues Awards fluctuated in popularity, until they were well-cemented into the student calendar by the start of the 80s.
Since then, The Blues Awards have been a staple in Canterbury University life. An opportunity, that every year both staff and students take as an excuse to get dressed up, reflect, and celebrate the achievements and successes of Canterbury University’s high-calibre students.
Recently, the Blues Awards have become even more significant. After the 2017 award ceremony was expanded to include awards in the fields of Community Engagement, and high achievement in the Arts. The expansion of the Blues Awards reflected on the ever-changing face of student culture and the celebration of diversity experienced at the University.
There are many recognizable former winners of Blues Awards. Former winners include names such as Kieran Reid, Sophie Devine, Luke Whitelock, and Angela Petty, who have gone on to become some of New Zealand’s greatest contemporary athletes. Busy breaking records, winning races, world cups, and medals.
The Blues Awards are steeped in history and represent a history a lot older than the Students’ Association itself. The Blues Awards spent many years celebrating great sporting achievements, achievements that many not have been possible without the years of history and pride that many of the sports have at Canterbury University. Even before the establishment of the Student’s Association in 1894, cricket, rugby, football, tennis, and boating organisations had already found a home at Canterbury University.
The tradition and celebration of student success continues.