Mark Chapman's enthusiasm for the outdoors, and commitment to learning and development has earned him the title of Skills Active Apprentice of the Year.

Skills Active is the industry training organisation for sport, recreation and performing arts in Aotearoa.

The award is designed to recognise high-potential individuals who have graduated from an apprenticeship programme, and are passionate about making a positive impact to the wellbeing of New Zealanders through commitment to their work in their industry.

A teacher at John Paul College, Chapman completed the Skills Active Multi-Activity Instructor Apprenticeship, with tramping and mountain biking as his focus areas.


He was presented with the award, which included a mounted ceremonial hei matau (traditional Maori fish hook) and $1000 cash prize, at the New Zealand Recreation Association Conference Awards Dinner in New Plymouth last night.

"I'm super stoked," Chapman said. "This win is an endorsement of the impact and value that the apprenticeship has had on my life, and on the vision I have for outdoor education long-term at John Paul College."

Chapman has always been passionate about the outdoors, and decided to do his apprenticeship to build on his experience.

Throughout his apprenticeship, he led outdoor programmes for students at the college. He also took up the Skills Active Youth Awards, which are programmes that foster connections between schools and employers, and build work-ready skills for young people. On top of this, Chapman is becoming a Skills Active assessor, which will enable him to support his colleagues, as they upskill through qualifications they undertake.

Chapman's learning support adviser, Carolyn Verhagen, said this level of engagement with Skills Active, and his enthusiasm to promote continued learning and development, made him the "golden outdoor apprentice".

"He is so passionate about what he is doing at the school, where he wants to take the outdoor programme, and what he is trying to achieve with his students. He's just got this huge passion that is just going to keep driving things forward for people."

Chapman said the apprenticeship had impacted him personally, enabling him to follow his passion, and professionally, giving him skills that influenced his everyday teaching and practice in the outdoor recreation field.

"The apprenticeship has helped improve my skills in the outdoors, and has given me the vehicle to be more of a reflective learner, and better meet the needs of my students."


He said the apprenticeship was "really enjoyable".

"There was always a really good structure; the process was always really well explained; and there was always really good advice from my learning support advisor in regards to what would be the best option for me...that advice was invaluable for me - someone who has experience in the outdoors, just to let me know what would be the best way to continue my journey."

Chapman is keen to promote the value of working in the outdoors, and said he would recommend the apprenticeship to not just staff, but also students who are looking for career pathways in the outdoors.

"The skills you learn through the qualifications help you develop really good life skills. For me, life experiences are the best teachers; I have gained the most growth through being in the outdoors and being challenged, taking other people out, and sharing that love for the outdoors."