Significant growth in Maori exercise leaders

Exercise NZ media release: 29th November 2018

New Zealand is seeing a significant growth in Māori fitness and personal training leaders, ExerciseNZ chief executive Richard Beddie says.

The personal trainer of the year winner at the recent ExerciseNZ annual awards, Ngarama Milner-Olsen, is Māori and so too is the mind body teacher of the year, Jase Te Patu of Wellington.

Other Māori winners were Wellington’s Gillian Christian who won the skills active Manukura Award and a Rotorua gym won a community contribution award. Award finalists who are Māori, included Calvin Mitchell of Rotorua and Joe Waide of Wanaka.

The 2017-18 New Zealand Health Survey found 47 percent of Māori were obese and adults living in the most deprived areas - many of whom are Māori - were 1.6 times as likely to be obese as adults living in the least deprived areas.

“We are starting to see quite a positive shift in the number of Māori personal trainers and exercise instructors and leaders become involved in our industry which is just fantastic.

“Our annual exercise awards have always embraced Māori culture with haka and waiata now being common at each awards ceremony. 

“In the latest awards, Māori were both well represented as finalists, but also as award winners, with several of the higher profile awards going to Māori.

“The awards were co-timed with the Hauora Yoga Conference and the Fitex fitness and exercise conference. With Hauora being in its first year, it was the first time that eastern philosophy and Māori values were intertwined and at a yoga conference anywhere in the world. 

“The awards are a celebration of our collective movement and exercise industry in their work in getting more Kiwis active.  

“To serve all New Zealanders our industry needs to be as diverse as our country and it’s great to see Māori culture not only being embraced as a part of programme delivery, but also now Māori are being recognised as true leaders in our industry in excellence in every dimension.”

Beddie says awards have previously gone to Māori but now it is becoming common every year. Several of the major Maori winners, including Milner-Olsen and Te Patu, have specialist projects that are inclusive of Māori.

The awards ceremony is also seeing more and more Māori attendees from places like Northland, South Auckland and Gisborne.

“It’s fair to say Māori often figure prominently in statistics such as lack of exercise and obesity but we are doing our bit to address that and embrace a growing number of Māori people being involved in the exercise industry.”