Nyena Weeds Kawai

Nyena Weeds Kawai

Master of Sport, Exercise and Health student
Bachelor of Sport and Recreation in Sport and Exercise

Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti, Japanese

She wants to help surfers keep surfing for longer says Nyena Weeds Kawai who completed a Bachelor of Sport and Recreation in Sport and Exercise and is now enrolled in a Master of Sport, Exercise and Health.

“For my master’s degree research, I’m investigating the knowledge, attitudes and training habits of recreational surfers. I’m really passionate about surfing and currently surfing-specific research focuses on elite surfers with little mention of recreational surfers. We don’t know what the general population of surfers is doing to keep themselves fit. Therefore, I wanted to investigate this area. I hope my research will help us better understand the needs of our clients so we can help them stay involved in surfing.

“I’m excited to see how surfing develops over the coming years, especially now that it’s part of the Olympics. I’d love to help develop surfing in New Zealand and to prepare surfers for high performance events like the Olympics.”

Nyena’s master’s degree research is supervised by Associate Professor Chris Whatman from AUT’s School of Sport and Recreation.

Invaluable industry connections
Being able to work closely with sporting organisations through her studies has been one of the highlights, says Nyena who received an AUT Vice-Chancellor’s Significant Student Scholarship and a Te Tai Tokerau McDonald’s Scholarship to support her bachelor’s degree, as well as an AUT Postgraduate Scholarship for her master’s degree.

“I’ve really enjoyed the opportunity to work with organisations that align with my area of interest. Being able to complete workplace experience as part of my bachelor’s degree has really benefited me as it allowed me to apply what I’m learning in class and actually use this information when coaching. I believe it has made a real difference in my confidence as a coach and enabled me to form connections with other students and coaches.”

She wouldn’t hesitate to recommend AUT’s sport and recreation programmes.

“I’d recommend studying sport and recreation to anyone who has an area of sport they’re really passionate about. It’s definitely not easy, but if you have a clear idea and goal it makes it all worth it. You have the opportunity to make a real difference in the industry and in your sport, which isn’t something everyone gets to do as a student.”

Following her passion
Because she thoroughly enjoyed her undergraduate degree, Nyena was thrilled when the opportunity of postgraduate study presented itself.

“My bachelor’s degree gave me a really solid foundation of knowledge in regards to sport and exercise science but I wanted to dive deeper into the area I’m really passionate about. My interest in sport science mainly centres around surfing but because it isn’t a ‘mainstream’ sport I didn’t get the chance to really study it during my bachelor’s degree. Continuing my studies has offered me the chance to focus specifically on surfing, which has been really awesome.”

There was no shortage of people encouraging her to pursue her passion for surfing.

“I made some really amazing connections through my bachelor’s degree and they encouraged me to follow my dream of studying surfing. I really appreciated that support and thought it would benefit me to have that support as a postgraduate student as well.”

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