Garry Carnachan receives Queen's Birthday Honour for services to secondary school sport

Garry Carnachan does not rate his performance as a physical education teacher.

‘’I just turned up, and we played sport,” Carnachan said, laughing. “I was probably the worst phys-ed teacher in the world. I was just, ‘What are we doing today? Is it basketball? It is hockey? What is it?’ The kids got a poor phys-ed experience, but great sports one.’’

Carnachan, 64, has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) in this year’s Queen’s Birthday Honours, for having a ‘’significant influence in the governance of school sport in New Zealand since 2007’’.

Growing up in Kaponga, and then attending Spotswood College in New Plymouth, it was sport that got Carnachan through the school gate.

‘’I probably stayed at school because of sport; first XV, and basketball, everything that was going. I learnt then that sport is a powerful engagement tool for kids. The first step of engagement is getting them through the gate and that’s what it did for me.’’

Since then, he has been passionate about the positive influence both sport and education could have on young people’s lives.

‘’And I guess that’s why I went teaching and why I got involved in sport. And it was a huge privilege to work in that interface between sport and school. I never thought I was going to work, really; it was a job I had passion for from when I was young.’’

After teaching maths and phys ed at Spotswood College he moved on to Opunake High School where he was principal until he left teaching in 2001.

Carnachan’s next step was professional development manager for the Hurricanes, and then team manager for the Hurricanes and Junior All Blacks, before moving into the job as chief executive of School Sport New Zealand, a role he held from 2008 to 2020.

He is now vice-president New Zealand Football, but jokes his knowledge of football could be written on the back of a postage stamp.

‘’But I’ve been involved in sport governance for a while now and been on a number of boards.’’

Married to Jan, with two children and two grandchildren, Carnachan is director on the board of the Taranaki Community Rugby Trust, a member of the New Zealand Community Trust Regional Advisory Committee, and a former director of AFL New Zealand, University and Tertiary Sport New Zealand.

To be active for life starts when you’re young, he said.

‘’And if you can give kids a really positive experience in sport and physical activity they want to come back. It’s about the mental, social, physical health of our communities.’’

What is undersold is the value of sport in delivering good young New Zealanders, Carnachan said.

One of the things he is particularly proud of is his involvement in a group that developed an integrity framework to address a lot of issues in school sports, he said.

‘’The bad behaviours – which are generally adult-driven – that’s ongoing, always has been, always will be. But the integrity framework we introduced, which was the first of its kind in New Zealand, addressed a lot of the undesirable behaviours we were seeing in school sport.

‘’There’s only a handful of poor behaviours, but they do need to be called out and that framework enabled us to do that, and it made a big difference.’’

But as far as his award goes he feels ‘’like a bit of fraud.’’

‘’I’ve always thought I’m just doing my job, but I see it as a recognition of the school sports sector.

“Arguably New Zealand’s biggest club, there’s 150,000 kids a year pull on a school jersey and play with pride with their mates, about 10,000 teachers who coach them.

“All the sporting organisation that provide the events for them to play in it’s a massive team effort.

‘’It’s a nice recognition for the sector.’’

Article first appeared on Stuff website June 7th written by Helen Harvey.

Up and Coming Events – June and July

As we approach the holidays (3 weeks to go), there is still plenty of sporting action across the country in a variety of events.  This weekend the New Zealand Secondary School Cross Country Championships will be hosted in Hawera with plenty of classic cross-country challenges with the stunning Taranaki Maunga overlooking proceedings.   

Underwater Hockey players will be getting their snorkels ready for the first of many tournaments.  The Underwater Hockey Northern Zone Cup Tournament this weekend is for the Junior Open and Junior Girls Grades and will be hosted at the Westwave Aquatic Centre, Henderson, Auckland.  Underwater Hockey have embraced the regional offerings for their participants allowing more opportunities to compete and grow the sport. 

Timaru will be a hive of activity over the next few weeks hosting SISS swimming this weekend followed by SISS Squash Championships on 26th and 27th June.  Both events have had some positive adaptation to encourage more participation from schools across the South Island. 

Taupo will be the venue for the rescheduled North Island and New Zealand Secondary School Motor Cross Championships on Friday 9th July. This event will also be live streamed on the Sky Sport Next channel and is sure to provide some exciting Motorcross action.  

We hope all competitors, coaches and spectators enjoy their sporting experiences and travel safely.

Reminders for up-and-coming events and closing dates.

EventClosing dateEvent dateVenue
NZ Cross Country ChampionshipsClosed 19/20 JuneHawera
North Zone Underwater Hockey Cup 19/20 June Henderson
SISS Swimming  19/20 JuneTimaru
SISS SquashClosed 26/27 JuneTimaru
North Island and NZ Secondary School Motorcross Championships  9 July Taupo

More details regarding all the events can be found on the School Sport New Zealand Website School Sport New Zealand - School Sport NZ Events (