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Opening of EIT Institute of Sport & Health marks exciting milestone

July 3, 2019

Charlie Tattersfield, under 17 NZ Road Cycling and Criterion Champion, on the bike during a Max Vo2 test with his coach and EIT Sport Science Services manager Ivar Hopman (right) and Dr Patrick Lander, EIT senior lecturer in Health & Sports science (left).

When EIT Sports lecturer, Marcus Agnew first floated the idea of a regionally based sports development facility, the School of Health and Sport Science immediately saw the opportunities.

Now, a few years on, EIT is delighted to be celebrating a significant milestone in the development of community driven education and research in the field of sport and health in Hawke’s Bay.

When you head down to EIT ISH the excitement and buzz is palpable. Boosted by waves of fresh energy, new ideas are flourishing already. It might still need some finishing touches, but the institute is well and truly up and running.

Classrooms, a postgraduate study space and a research centre including a sports science lab with specialist equipment – it’s all ready to go.

“We couldn’t be happier,” said Kirsten Westwood, Head of EIT’s School of Health & Sport Science. “It’s such an exciting and ground-breaking project for EIT and our region.” Together with her team Kirsten Westwood invested a lot of time and energy into the project. It’s fair to say that everyone is optimistic that the new facilities will make a huge impact.

EIT’s Deputy Chief Executive Mark Oldershaw stressed the institute’s strong points which backed EIT’s decision to invest in the new facilities. “The institute expands EIT by creating another state-of-the-art learning and teaching space. Here our students can learn how to run quality project-based sport and exercise programmes and conduct community centred research that will help improve the health and wellbeing of the people of Hawke’s Bay.”

Mr Oldershaw believes that everyone in the region will benefit from this considerable body of expertise – from individuals and communities, to elite athletes, the collective goal is to support people to “be the best they can be” – a key message reflected in the Institute’s slogan.

According to Kirsten Westwood the institute is set to feed the region’s sporting culture and develop into a hub for students, EIT staff and communities. It will open up opportunities to develop and run innovative community focussed initiatives.  “In a nutshell, a place where students can connect with real-life situations under the guidance of expert lecturers and researchers.”

Speaking of community engagement – industry projects are already an essential part of the sport degree offering. This is just one example of work that will expand in the new premises. The degree’s third year 150-hour practicum challenges students to get involved with sport, recreation and health organisations across Hawke’s Bay. The contribution to the community is a credit to the students and often leads to job offers.  

For example, starting in July, the new Certificate in Exercise (Level 4), will be delivered here, making the most out of spacious classrooms and modern gym equipment. This certificate opens the door to a career in personal training or running health and exercise programmes.

EIT expertise also extends to providing specialist sport science services to the public. Whether it is about sport nutrition, exercise physiology tests or conditioning programmes, EIT experts are on hand and appointments available upon request.

A draw card of the new sport science lab is the 3D body scanner, unique to Hawke’s Bay and one of very few in the country. The cameras incorporated in the apparatus measure the body composition mass creating a 3D image of the body. A great motivator for people who want to lose weight, tone up, build muscle or for those engaged in a rehabilitation regime. Time investment? Just 40 seconds.

Apart from EIT students, staff, athletes and communities benefitting from EIT ISH’s potential, researchers at EIT are particularly delighted to be able to extend their research outreach. EIT’s research capability and activity has grown substantially over the past few years and the new facilities will give it fresh impetus. EIT is planning to bring in research staff, to be based at EIT ISH.

Executive Dean for EIT, Professor Natalie Waran, is enthusiastic about adding a new chapter to EIT’s teaching and research portfolio. “The new Institute offers first-class research facilities and opportunities that will allow us to further develop community-centred research activities at EIT, ensuring that we contribute to providing evidence-based solutions to help ensure the health and well-being of our communities,” said Prof Waran. “Essentially, our aim, through the work we do at EIT ISH is to enrich and develop our community as well as retain and attract research excellence in Hawke’s Bay.”