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Clarkson’s off to run South Island pub

Dayle Clarkson is leaving Nuku Ora to run a pub in Otago. PHOTO/JADE CVETKOV

Longtime administrator bids farewell

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One of Wairarapa’s leading sports administrators is leaving the region to run an Otago pub.

Nuku Ora Wairarapa manager Dayle Clarkson has resigned after 23 years with the organisation, previously known as Sport Wellington-Wairarapa.

She and her husband, Danny, have bought Stanley’s Hotel in Macraes Flat, where their son Ryan works in New Zealand’s largest gold mine. It is about an hour by road from Dunedin.

To say Clarkson, nee Tatana, has had a lifelong passion for sport is an understatement.

She and her sisters were talented swimmers, with older sister Tunis winning numerous national titles and setting national records.

Clarkson, 52, played netball from an early age and took up coaching the sport at the age of 18, winning several school and club titles, including leading Celtic to victory over Harcourts in the 2017 Wairarapa premier one final, as well as this year’s decider where they narrowly lost to Wairarapa College.

There was always plenty of parental encouragement, though from father Sid, who was rewarded with the 2017 NZ Rugby Volunteer of the Year award for more than 50 years volunteering and coaching, with the highlight being winning the Wellington women’s championship with Eketahuna.

Clarkson’s administrative career started at Makoura College as sports co-ordinator, which she held for two years before joining Sport Wairarapa in 1998.

The organisation later became Sport Wellington-Wairarapa, and last year changed its name to Nuku Ora, with more of a focus on well-being.

“We have contracts now with the Wairarapa DHB and the councils,” said Clarkson.

“We’ve turned down the dial on what we do with sport and turned up what we do with physical activity and recreation exercise, which is where grassroots sports coexist, because most of it is about participation, and then there’s a tier of more elite higher-level kind of sportspeople.

“But we’re getting more of our population by having a broader view and a focus not quite so much on sport.”

The Kia Hakinakina programme run by Cricket Wairarapa and introduced in schools to get children active was a good example of the new direction – but it would take years before the benefits flow through.

School sport is one area where Wairarapa has excelled, with participation numbers at primary and secondary school well above the national averages.

“It’s still very much a traditional thing in Wairarapa; you go to school, you play a sport.

“Schools have great pride in getting kids involved in sport, and that’s the been the biggest thing for Wairarapa sport. We have so much success because kids are exposed to it at such a young age.”

She said the landscape had also changed significantly because there is a greater selection of sports than traditional rugby, netball, football, hockey, and cricket. Sports such as motocross, karting, and equestrian, were achieving success.

Clarkson said the biggest change in her time in sports administration though is technology, and that sports organisations are much more businesslike and professional in how they operate.

She said there had been many highlights working for the organisation but one that stands out was when she and colleague Doug Bracewell attended a Hillary Commission [now Sport NZ] conference and then chairman the late Sir Brian Lochore praised their work.

“BJ got up and spoke about the work that we were doing in Wairarapa and mentioned us – me and Doug by name – and when you get an endorsement from someone of that stature, it’s a lot to live up to – but a little place Wairarapa got noted.”

Running a pub will also be a change in direction for Danny, who has left his job at Higgins after 25 years.

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