Talk with Christo Peters | ONZ General Manager
Christo (on the right) is a good sport. Not only has he taken on the GM position with gusto for Orienteering NZ, but he answered some of our not so serious questions as well:
When did you start working for ONZ? Sept 2019
What other sports have you worked in/with prior to ONZ? I have worked with 33 different sports in various capacities:
In the 18 years I worked at both Rangitoto College and Auckland Girls’ Grammar School
I have been teacher-in-charge of the following sports (25x): Athletics, Basketball, Badminton, Cross Country, Cricket, Diving, Gymnastics, Kilikiti, Kio Rahi, Football, Hockey, Karate, Lacrosse, Lawn Bowls, Netball, Rowing, Rugby Union, Rugby League, Swimming, Tag Football, Table Tennis, Tennis, Touch, Volleyball, Waka Ama.
Over and above this, I have also worked with organised events through National Sports Organisations and Regional Sports Organisations for (8) additional sports: Archery, Climbing, Golf, Kayaking, Petanque, Skate Boarding, Taekwon Do & Turbo Touch.
…and finally I have been involved in regional and club level in the following sports:
Tennis – President Birkenhead Tennis Club (16 seasons in total), Board Tennis Northern, AK Secondary Schools Tennis Association (8 years), St Marys Primary Tennis Club
Bowls – AK Collegiate Committee, Harbour Bowls
Touch – AK Sec school Committee
Volleyball – AK Sec school Committee
What qualities do you think make a good sports GM? I have a belief that good relationships are key to any management role. This means listening, being transparent and communicating clearly. My personal style is to work alongside people and clubs rather than to dictate to them. So style-wise I guess you would call this servant leadership in management speak! I think I would be arrogant to think that I knew everything. I do think that sport has many transferable practices and ideas and so I think I am privileged to have worked with such a huge range of sports associations, athletes, administrators and coaches over my time in the sports industry.
Why did you want to work for ONZ? Good people, a great council, and an opportunity to be involved with, and help lead, a period of club-focused development. Working for a national body that wants to be accountable to all its members (clubs and individuals) and has a mandate to produce tangible change is something I feel I have a skill set for with my history working within volunteer organisations.
Describe what ONZ does as an overarching organisation? I guess the most succinct way of putting this would be kaitiakitanga – ONZ are guardians of our sport, an organisation formed by members to advocate and support what is best for orienteering through collaboration with our members and other stakeholders. This is multi-faceted. It ranges from seemingly small administrative things like insurance or the provision of the national database to ensuring that our major events and camps take place, enabling our athletes to compete on the world stage, public/member engagement (websites, newsletters, social media, forums), national awards, the production of rules and policies, providing information, leadership, transparency and guidance through committees and working groups, the coalition and creation of orienteering resources as well as training opportunities for various areas of our sport..
What challenges are you looking for in this position? Ways to make orienteering better, bigger and more accessible for many more to try.
What other sports do you think are ‘on par’ with orienteering? Is there a potential for linking up and working with other sports and / or organisations? Depends on what “on par” means. Size-wise there are a number of sports with a similar number of members. Our sport lends itself to adventure racers, many of whom may or may not transition into orienteering. Elements of it are akin to athletics and distance running. Orienteering is a very technical sport that requires a specific skill set – a physical sport combined with the need to interpret and implement constant course changes on the go. I guess I would interpret the perfect orienteer of having the key skills of a top cross-country runner and Americas Cup tactician.
What is a suggestion you have made that has already been implemented and has provided a positive change or result within the sport? A lot of what I have achieved has been around transparency and communication rather than big changes. Changing parts of an organisation’s culture does not happen instantly as changes often take time to be noticed and bedded in. Some things that may have been noticed have been medals and banners at nationals and the footage taken at the recent NISS Championships. Although these things are what members will see, the key initiatives of more importance are currently in motion behind the scenes. Some of the areas we are looking at include: the creation of new resources – a national coaching framework; coach the coaches programme; training resources; updated NCEA orienteering standards; investigation into different ways to collect revenue that will add value to the sport; and how ONZ will work with private operators alongside clubs. These things will eventually make a difference to how successful we are in our sport.
How long have you been into sport? What age did you start? The first sport I played was football at age 5. At primary school I took part in athletics, played football, cricket, rugby and rugby league. I started tennis at 13 years old and waterpolo at 15 years old and touch at 18 years old. I currently play tennis and 7-a-side football in a team with my 15yr old son.
What drew you to sport in the first place? I have always been sporty and good at sport so I enjoy playing and the social side of sport. I was also extremely shy as a child so my parents used sport as a vehicle to overcome this.
What do you like best about sport? The challenge as well as the social side.
What is your greatest sports accomplishment? Sadly it was getting selected in the NZ Universities Waterpolo team scheduled to travel to the World University Games. Unfortunately most of the players chose to represent NZ Waterpolo at their World Champs at the same time so the team never went overseas!
And just for fun, Christo shares his favorite…
Quote: I am really not sure if I stole this from somewhere or made it up, but it has been a quote I have used for more than thirty years: “If you look hard enough you will find what you are looking for, even if it is not there.”
Band / musical artist: Recorded – Groove Armada, Live – the Lemonheads or Rancid
Guilty pleasure: Lewis Road Creamery Choc Milk
Movie character: Too hard to choose one. Top three would be: Johnny Utah (Keanu Reeves) from Point Break or The Bride (Uma Therman) in Kill Bill or Jules Winnfield (Samuel L Jackson) from Pulp Fiction
App / website: Match Hub (National Tennis Ranking and Results Website)
Snack when you travel: Peanut Slab
Ice cream flavour: Rush Munroe Banana
Coach: Rudy Aso – Former National Volleyball Coach
What publications do you read in your personal time: Various electronic newsletters I am on mailing lists for
What media do you like to follow: I sporadically follow various news feeds on TV and computer
What do you like to watch on Netflicks / Sky sport: I’m a bit of a Netflix junky. The longest series I have watched was about 360 episodes! I’m really struggling at the moment as not so much new content is being generated.
Photo supplied. Above: Christo