ko te manaaki i ngā kaihākinakina | caring for New Zealand's sports community

This page is a brief outline of who we are; however if you would like to know more about Sports Chaplaincy NZ, please contact us.

Vision and mission


Governance board 

National Office staff

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About Sports Chaplaincy NZ: Vision and mission

Our Vision
To be a significant provider of mental, emotional and spiritual support through pastoral care and mentoring to Aotearoa New Zealand’s sporting communities.
Our Mission
Providing trained, dedicated Sports Chaplains who offer pastoral care, mentoring and support to athletes, organisations and also the wider sporting community whānau. We work with people irrespective of ethnicity, religion, gender, sexuality or disability, for the purpose of achieving positive life outcomes in the communities we serve.
Picture of swimmers on starting blocks for About Sports Chaplaincy NZ page

About Sports Chaplaincy NZ: History


In 2006 Ross Georgiou returned to New Zealand after having lived in Europe for a decade. He wanted to serve sportspeople in a way that made sense in his culture. A year later Ross was invited to visit Sports Chaplaincy Australia by CEO Cam Butler to undergo their training. The vision and stories motivated him to see Sports Chaplaincy in New Zealand grow from a few isolated chaplains to a national ministry.

Andrew Kerr was of a kindred spirit. Together they worked tirelessly to set up ‘Engage’, through which churches and other Christian organisations served the 2011 Rugby World Cup. One of Engage’s areas of ministry was chaplaincy to the teams from around the world. Through a great relationship with Martin Snedden (CEO of the 2011 Rugby World Cup), 19 of the 20 teams had chaplains or ‘on call chaplains’. Chaplains were sourced globally and through the partnership with Heads of Churches in NZ, led by the chair, Ken Harrison.

At this time, Sports Chaplains were  identified, trained, appointed and guided in NZ with the support of Sports Chaplaincy Australia. In 2013 Ross began to recruit a Governance Board. Together they drew up a Trust Deed and registered as an Incorporated Society and Charitable Trust.

The first board of SCNZ was chaired by Grant Harris, and included Kevin Prewett, Andrew Kerr, Murray Thatcher, Melony Atkins (nee Clark) and Ross Georgiou. Martyn Norrie was added later to the board and took over as chair. Both Tandem Ministries and the Christian Sports Network were key partners in the establishment of SCNZ.


Under Ross Georgiou’s direction, SCNZ recruited local leadership in Auckland, Waikato/Bay of Plenty, Manawatū, Wellington, Canterbury and Otago/Southland. A partnership with Ignite Sport was formed to promote Sports Chaplaincy in the Wellington Region.

Matt and Rebecca Hawkins joined as part-time staff in 2014. Matt, as Training Director, developed the New Zealand Certificate in Sports Chaplaincy curriculum. This was based on the Australian training, but contained much local content, including a session on Māori culture. Rebecca, as Communications Manager, began a newsletter and a social media presence.

In 2014 the chaplain of Ajax Cape Town Football Club, Bruce Nadin, completed SCNZ training in Auckland. He then began Sports Chaplaincy South Africa, using a training curriculum based on New Zealand’s.

In 2016 Matt Hawkins trained 30 chaplains in the Solomon Islands.

Also in 2016 SCNZ held its first national conference, in Auckland. Delegates came from throughout New Zealand and from Australia and Fiji. Speakers included former New Zealand cricketers Martin Snedden and John Parker, and New Zealand Olympic swimmer Natalie Wiegersma. John Parker later became Sports Chaplaincy Regional Leader for the Waikato. Sports Chaplaincy Australia’s Cam Butler, Steve Stubbings and Gary Speckman also gave inspiring messages.

Major events

As well as their regular work in clubs and schools, Sports Chaplains served at major sporting events. Ross Georgiou was part of the chaplaincy team at the Commonweath Games in 2014, and Jess Blake at the Olympics in 2016. Sports Chaplains were also on call at venues for the 2015 Cricket World Cup, 2015 FIFA Under-20 World Cup, and the 2017 Rugby League World Cup, all held in New Zealand.

New leadership

In mid 2017 Ross Georgiou and his family returned to Europe, where he established the Global Sports Chaplaincy Association. Phil Pawley, former chaplain to the St Helen’s Rugby League Club, took over the role of National Director in March 2018.

About Sports Chaplaincy NZ: Our governance board

Photo of Martyn Norrie

Martyn Norrie, MBA, FCLA, ANZIIF (Fellow)


Business leader, organisational coach, strategic thinker

Photo of Mel Atkins

Melony Atkins

Manager of Strategic and Corporate Planning, Tauranga City Council
Previously National Director of Christian Surfers
Photo of Ross Georgiou

Ross Georgiou, BD, GradDip

Chair, Major Sports Event Chaplaincy Commission
UEFA and NZ Football licensed coach
Photo of Grant Harris

Grant Harris, BTheol

Senior Pastor, Windsor Park Baptist Church
Chaplain, NZ Breakers
Photo of Andrew Kerr

Andrew Kerr, AFA

Managing Partner and Director, Seneca Group Ltd
Convener, Christian Sports Network NZ
Formerly a NZ Surf Life Saving champion!
Photo of Phil Pawley

Phil Pawley

CEO, Sports Chaplaincy New Zealand
Photo of Kevin Prewett

Kevin Prewett, BCom, CPANZ, ATAINZ

Director, Eden Perich Prewett Ltd
Photo of Murray Thatcher

Murray Thatcher

Entrepreneur, mentor, philanthropist

About Sports Chaplaincy NZ: Our National Office staff

Photo of Phil Pawley

Phil Pawley

Phil has been in ministry since 1980, with Youth With a Mission, The Church of England, and Morrinsville Baptist Church. During 20 years living in England he was Sports Chaplain for the St Helen’s and England rugby league teams and at the Manchester Commonwealth Games. In his younger days Phil played hockey. He has also completed the London marathon and climbed Mt Kilimanjaro. Phil and his wife Diane have four adult children as well as a growing number of grandchildren.

Read an interview with Phil Pawley.

Photo of Rebecca Hawkins

Rebecca Hawkins

Rebecca edits our blog and e-newsletter, as well as looking after our website and social media. She also helps train Sports Chaplains. At other times, Rebecca supports her four children in their sport. Back in her youth, she played cricket and football, with great enthusiasm but little skill.

Photo of Matt Hawkins

Matt Hawkins

Before joining us, Matt worked in HR. Since then he has overhauled our training, and has helped train many Sports Chaplains. Matt has been married to Rebecca since 1994. Together they have four children who love sport! Matt has played cricket, football, rugby as well as waterpolo.

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If you still have questions about Sports Chaplaincy NZ, then please contact us.