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Jeremy Hapeta MEd

Ngāti Raukawa ki te tonga; Ngāti Huia; Ngāti Pareraukawa

Lecturer in Physical Education at the College of Health’s School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition

Jeremy Hapeta

Jeremy Hapeta is a firm believer in having a back-up plan B. Jeremy is a lecturer in Physical Education at the College of Health’s School of Sport, Exercise and Nutrition. Despite a stint playing Rugby professionally in NZ and internationally, he always had a second passion that he could call upon.

Jeremy hails from the Horowhenua and was a sporting star at Manawatū College – Captain of the top rugby and cricket teams, athletics field champion and top basketballer. In his final year at High School he played in the National Provincial Championship (NPC) 3rd division for Horowhenua-Kapiti.

But it was teaching that became his career backstop and his passion. “I had some influential teachers who believed in me coming through secondary school. I wanted to pass on that faith that was shown in me as a student who achieved in the sporting arena and culturally, but didn’t necessarily always reach my potential academically”. He says teaching is about making a difference where it matters, which is why he headed to Massey University to complete his Bachelor of Education degree. While studying at the College of Education he also managed to juggle playing for Manawatū in the NPC 2nd Division.

After graduation, he taught in primary and intermediate schools and later went on to teach physical education at his old secondary school, Manawatū College. However, he continued to simultaneously pursue his other passion rugby. In the late 90s and early 2000s he played for the Hurricanes Development team alongside the likes of Conrad Smith, Cory Jane and Tamati Ellison who went on to play for the All Blacks. The former front row prop also ran out with the NZ Divisional XV and then took up the opportunity to play professionally in Japan, Italy and France. It was while playing in the South of France that a job came up back at the College of Education in Palmerston North and so Jeremy cut short his playing career to go back to his passion of teaching.

“On average, a professional ruby career is a 10year window max – it’s a potential avenue, but I always knew I wouldn’t play rugby all my life so I invested early in a plan B in case plan A didn’t work out.”

Now his focus is on training PE teachers to inspire others into sporting pathways. He says it’s all about giving them as many transferable skills as possible using initiatives like the Sport NZ Physical Literacy approach.

“Simple things like running, jumping, dogging those things that we call fundamental skills that are used in all sorts of sports and generic tactical strategies such as spatial awareness and identifying and attacking space. They are applicable to sports like netball, rugby, soccer, cricket, athletics, basketball and volley ball – giving them those generic skills and concepts so they can then apply them to any sport allows them to work with all their students.”

Jeremy says PE teachers are often the front line advocates for students with potential. “I’m pretty adamant that teachers should be encouraging them to have a plan B in case of injury, otherwise we could be setting our rangatahi up for failure because they’re only ever one incident away from a potentially career-ending injury.”

That plan B means ensuring that our students keep up academically and Jeremy says it also means ensuring teachers don’t fall into the trap of stereotyping Māori and Pasifika as only ‘sporty’ or athletically gifted and talented.

“Perpetuating those negative stereotypes are something we are trying to teach out of our PE majors – we want them to raise their expectations of Māori and Pasifika students when it comes to academic achievement. Don’t just think they’re a bunch of sports ‘jocks’ who are naturally gifted. We try to encourage them to think about all students more holistically.” He says the ‘natural athlete’ stereotype robs gifted and talented Māori and Pasifika of positive traits such as being disciplined, hard workers who are putting in hours of training. Not only are they hardworking, but “also smart, creative, innovative and intellectually capable as well and I don’t think that narrative is seen as much as it should be in secondary school settings.”

Jeremy is keen to support all of his students, but is particularly interested in raising the educational achievement of Māori and Pasifika tertiary students. He is currently completing his PhD candidature and also acts as the Māori cultural advisor for High Performance Squash New Zealand’s elite athletes as well.

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