Te Mata School principal Michael Bain has been awarded a prestigious Woolf Fisher fellowship, which he intends to use to further efforts to improve community health through education in Hawke's Bay.

The late Sir Woolf Fisher, co-founder of Fisher and Paykel, was a passionate supporter of education in New Zealand, and in 1960 founded the Woolf Fisher Trust for the advancement of scientific and general education in New Zealand through fellowships and scholarships.

Woolf Fisher fellowships provide overseas study and travel for outstanding secondary school principals and teachers, polytechnic senior managers and, most recently, primary and intermediate school principals.

Mr Bain, who has been principal at Te Mata School for 13 years, said he was delighted to find out he was a recipient.

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"It's a bit of a mystery - it's not done by application it's by nomination - you get informed through the mail to say you have been awarded, which is exciting," Mr Bain said.

The fellowship is a fully-funded 10 week sabbatical, which Mr Bain intended to embark on in May next year.

"My focus is likely to be set around community health and wellbeing, dovetailing with the work being done here with the AUT Millennium Institute and the community of learners in Havelock North."

He said he had been involved in educational consultation with Sir Graeme Avery, the driving force behind AUT Millennium, and had also been involved with Hockey New Zealand, and the team at the Hawke's Bay Sports Events and Education Consortium (HBSEEC), a key partner of the Festival of Hockey.

"I've been working with them looking at the potential use of the park and education programmes to make the most of this huge opportunity.

"The institute is hoping to do some pretty amazing stuff. With the health statistics as they are in Hawke's Bay we desperately need to improve and look at how we increase community engagement and community wellness."

He said he became interested in this field through teaching, and wants to explore how education could back Government and District Health Board efforts to tackle health issues among children, such as obesity, possibly including the whole family in the process.

He will spend part of his time overseas at the Harvard Graduate School of Education's Global Education Innovation Initiative, and then plans to tour the world investigating other initiatives, possibly including a visit to Framingham, Massachusetts, home of the longitudinal Framingham Heart Study.