Natalie Akoorie is a reporter at the NZ Herald based in Hamilton.

Kiwi sports controversies on list for Fulbright winner's US pupils

Dr Holly Thorpe hopes to provide an insight into New Zealand through our passion for sport.
Photo / Christine Cornege.
Dr Holly Thorpe hopes to provide an insight into New Zealand through our passion for sport. Photo / Christine Cornege.

American university students will learn about New Zealand sporting controversies including the 1981 Springbok tour when Waikato University lecturer Dr Holly Thorpe takes up the 2012 Fulbright Visiting Scholar Award.

Dr Thorpe is the recipient of the award in New Zealand studies and will teach a class on Kiwi passion for sport when she heads to Georgetown University in Washington DC next August.

A former competition snowboarder, Dr Thorpe is using her interest in extreme sport to touch on sport in New Zealand society during the six-month course.

The 30-year-old, who lives in Raglan, will introduce students to figures such as Sir Edmund Hillary and A.J. Hackett, and teach them about the impact of such controversies as the Springbok Tour and the Adidas All Blacks haka advertisement.

"I'll also introduce the students to netball and the Rugby World Cup - sports and events a lot of Americans have no idea about," Dr Thorpe said.

"The Fulbright scholarships are all about building connections between countries, so students will learn about New Zealand society through the vehicle of sport, and for me it will be interesting to see how they do things differently both at a US university, and also in terms of extreme sport participation."

A senior lecturer in the Faculty of Education's sport and leisure studies department in Hamilton, Dr Thorpe is among notable scholars and artists to receive the award.

Others include historians Michael King and James Belich, poet Bill Manhire and playwright Roger Hall.

The Fulbright Visiting Scholar Award allows New Zealand academics to undertake research and teach a course at the Centre of Australian and New Zealand Studies for one or two semesters.

Dr Thorpe, who has published many books and articles on extreme sports, said she was excited about the award.

"Georgetown is a prestigious university with the only programme in Australian and New Zealand Studies in the country. My course will provide students with an insight into New Zealand society through my particular field of expertise, that is, the sociology and history of sport."

In 2009, Dr Thorpe received a Leverhulme Visiting Scholar Fellowship, and spent nine months at the University of Brighton.

- NZ Herald

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