John Paul College PE teacher Mark Chapman's love for the outdoors has earned him a chance at winning a prestigious award.

Mr Chapman has been selected as one of three finalists for the 2017 Skills Active Apprentice of the Year Award which will be presented at the New Zealand Recreation Association (NZRA) conference on November 8 in New Plymouth.

Skills Active is the industry training organisation for sport, recreation and performing arts in New Zealand, and this award recognises the up and coming talent in the industries.

Mr Chapman will find out in the next couple of weeks whether he has won the award.


"Just to be nominated is pretty awesome because it's on a national scale, so fingers crossed from here."

Originally from just outside Leeds in the UK, Mr Chapman moved to the Hawkes Bay 14 years ago to play cricket, but soon found himself pursuing a career as a PE teacher.

He taught at Saint Kentigern's in Auckland for two years before moving to John Paul College where he has been since.

Three years ago he decided to undergo outdoor training through Skills Active so he could share his knowledge with his students.

"I'm always looking to challenge my students and get them to step out of their comfort zone.

"We always used to get an instructor in for outdoor education and I decided that if I did this training, I could teach them myself."

During the apprenticeship, his areas of focus were bush tramping and mountain biking which helped him develop what he calls "hard skills".

"I think we rely on technology too much and in the outdoors your phone won't always work, so it's skills like compass work that become important.

"The goal is to be able to bring students into a controlled environment where they can develop themselves and apply those hard skills."

Although honoured to be named a finalist for the award, Mr Chapman is more excited about the development of the JPC outdoor education programme.

"I definitely want to win, but It's more about the things I'm trying to develop in the school and the community.

"I want to be able to plant the seed in others and encourage them to embrace what the outdoors has to offer, which in Rotorua is a no-brainer."

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