A Bay of Plenty man who has directed some of New Zealand’s most respected outdoor education centres, a Queenstown-based guide who spent a year on a sub-Antarctic island and an inspirational young instructor from the West Coast were among nine outstanding Kiwis recognised for excellence in outdoor leadership on Saturday.
The annual New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association (NZOIA) Excellence Awards dinner was held at Rotoiti Lodge in St Arnaud.
The prestigious ‘Tall Totara’ Award for a current instructor who personifies excellence in outdoor leadership went to Kahunui outdoor centre Director John Furminger from St Cuthbert’s College for establishing some of New Zealand’s most respected outdoor education programmes.
In partnership with his wife Christine over the past 40 years, Mr Furminger has directed outdoor education programmes across the country. These include St Paul’s Collegiate School’s Tihoi Venture School near Taupō, Motutapu Island’s Outdoor Adventure Camp in the Hauraki Gulf and St Cuthberts College Kahunui outdoor campus in the Bay of Plenty.
NZOIA Chair Gillian Wratt said Mr Furminger’s contribution to outdoor education had been described by his peers as “gigantic”.
“John is a legendary figure in outdoor education. He and Christine have made an enormous contribution by connecting tens of thousands of young New Zealanders with the outdoors. They have also inspired and mentored so many who have gone on to become outstanding instructors themselves.”
A new ‘Emerging Guide’ award was introduced this year to recognise a guide who displays great potential, talent and a commitment to a career in the guiding sector. It was presented to Queenstown-based contract guide Cameron Walker for his amazing exploits, which included a year spent on the sub-Antarctic Macquarie Island, wilderness expeditions in Antarctica and Patagonia, and voluntary alpine rescue efforts in the Southern Alps.
“Cameron is a deserving recipient of this first Emerging Guide Award. He has achieved a huge amount in his career already through instructing and has more recently combined this with guiding. His dedication has led him to contribute much of his recent free time to training and voluntary rescue efforts.” Ms Wratt said.
This year’s ‘Emerging Instructor’ award was presented to Rata Lovell-Smith, known to her colleagues as “Coach Rata”. Ms Wratt said the award was well-deserved, and recognised Ms Lovell-Smith’s amazing technical skills and her ability to inspire people from all walks of life.
“Rata has displayed great ability to connect with people. Her nomination was packed with glowing stories of her ability to inspire people to build new skills in the outdoors. She’s a shining example of what aspiring outdoor instructors should aim for.”
A Tertiary Award for guides and instructors who have shown outstanding potential during their studies was presented to six recipients. These were Jamie Marr of Ara Institute of Canterbury, Tamara Kinast of Hillary Outdoors, Brando Yelavich of Nelson Marlborough Institute of Technology, Kevin Burgess of Tai Poutini Polytechnic in Greymouth, Aimee Sanson of Whitireia Polytechnic and Michael Edh of Otago Polytechnic.
The NZOIA Excellence Awards were presented at an awards dinner during the four-day NZOIA National Training Symposium, held in the Nelson Lakes region. The symposium was attended by 130 outdoor guides and instructors. It featured workshops exploring a range of professional development opportunities and revalidation for guides, instructors and assessors.
Photo Caption: John Furminger was presented with the Tall Totara award at the NZOIA Excellence Awards on Saturday night. Photo credit: Andy Thompson Photography.