Peter Whalley has never shied away from accepting new challenges. In reward of his commitment, the passionate long-distance runner is now graduating with a Master of Health Science with Distinction. Shortly after submitting his thesis he decided on a big move to the bottom of the South Island.
Peter grew up in Rotorua as the youngest of four. “Our family was one of the real outdoorsy ones. We loved tramping and camping, and we spent a lot of time at the lake, in the forest, and at the beach.” Both parents were very sporty and introduced their children to all kinds of sports.
Straight out of high school Peter joined the army and completed a Bachelor of Sport and Exercise at Massey University sponsored by the army. He trained as an officer at the New Zealand Officer Cadet School in Waiouru and worked on site as an Operations Officer coordinating medical support for army training exercises and operations.
After the devastating cyclone that hit Fiji in 2016, he was sent there as a Health Liaison Adviser to plan health logistics and to manage environmental health issues that affected the army personnel.
As life goes however, Peter had fallen in love with a woman from Hawke’s Bay, Erica. He left the army in 2017 to move to Napier and to brush up his skills at EIT. “I thought that studying Health Science would open up new career perspectives.”
Shortly after taking up his studies he started to work part-time as a sports coordinator at Flaxmere College and then as a health and fitness tutor at EIT’s Trades Academy. “My scope was to introduce the students to work in a gym environment. I got a good insight into how challenging teaching is,” says 27-year-old Peter.
He very much enjoyed his year at EIT. “It was easy to establish relationships with our lecturers and to get in contact with fellow students.”
In his thesis, Peter compared the different forms of caffeine supplements – chewing gums, tablets and dissolvable strips – on running performance. “I really enjoyed carrying out the research. All of EIT’s staff were super helpful. I could even use the wine lab for my tests.”
His supervisor, Dr Carl Paton is full of praise for his straight-A-student. “His thesis is an excellent piece of work and I’m confident that it will fly through and get published in an international journal.”
For now however, it’s all about getting settled into his new life. Peter recently accepted a job offer as a health promotion adviser at the Southern District Health Board in Invercargill. The couple found a nice house and was surprised how much cheaper it is to rent compared to Hawke’s Bay.
“We will probably not get a lot of sun down here,” Peter says with a smile on his face, “but there is plenty of outdoor stuff to do. I went for a surf in January, and everyone wore warm wetsuits and boots. That was pretty astonishing.”
“I’m really happy to be in the work-force again and to apply my knowledge in both sports and health science to my new role.” Peter will probably need another set of warm clothes, a warm wetsuit, and a good raincoat.