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

Garry Carnachan does not rate his performance 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’’.

He is one of five people from Taranaki to receive awards. Mataiva Robertson has also been made an ONZM, Bali Haque has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, and Kenny Trinder and Rachael Utumapu have been both awarded the Queen’s Service Medal.

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.’’

Story – Stuff