New Zealand Sport Performance Conference


We have attracted a strong lineup of speakers who are experts in their field. There are practitioners in applied sport science and researchers from New Zealand's top universities. Many of our speakers have represented either New Zealand or their home country in their preferred sport; from white water slalom kayaking to World Triathlon Championships, from cycling to Super Rugby Franchises.

As speakers confirm their attendance at the conference they will be listed below.

Trevor Shailer (Ngati Hauiti, Ngati Kauwhata) won his first New Zealand junior boxing title in 1983 and in 1992 was selected to go to the Olympic Games in Barcelona alongside fellow boxers Sililo Figota and David Tua. In 1994 he won a bronze medal at the Commonwealth Games in Canada, was named Manawatu Sportsman of the Year and was the first New Zealand Universities Maori Sportsman of the Year. As an Olympian, National Champion, Oceania Champion and Commonwealth Bronze Medallist, Trevor is one of New Zealand’s all-time best amateur boxers. He retired from boxing in 1995, deciding to focus on his career in public health promotion and communications. He has had athlete and cultural support roles at five Olympic Games, which includes two Winter Olympics, was an adviser for Sochi and attended the Commonwealth Games in Delhi 2010 and Glasgow in 2014. Trevor will be the New Zealand team’s Deputy Chef de Mission supporting Rob Waddell at Rio this year. In 2012, Trevor was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to sport and the community.


Gary Hermansson is a Professor Emeritus at Massey University. He played over 100 first class games of Rugby for Manawatu, Wellington and NZ Universities, including wins for Wellington against the touring South African Springboks and the British Lions. For over 30 years he has worked as a Sport Psychologist with many of NZ’s top athletes in a wide range of sports. He has been the NZ Team Psychologist at five Commonwealth and five Olympic Games, including at Rio in 2016.  He has also worked extensively with the NZ Cricket (Blackcaps) Team and the NZ Equestrian Team, along with being contracted to High Performance Sport NZ, the NZ School of Dance, and with various other sporting organisations.  His 2011 book ‘Going Mental in Sport: Excelling through Mind-Management’ has received very positive reviews, and in 2015 he was made an Officer of the NZ Order of Merit for his services to the field of Sport Psychology.


Kathryn Phillips has been delivering performance support to elite high performance athletes and coaches for the last eleven years, supporting New Zealand’s top athletes to success at Olympic, World, and Commonwealth Championships. Her expertise lies in data analytics; measuring and monitoring athletes during training and racing and then working closely with the entire support team to devise and implement strategies to target performance improvement. Kathryn blends using experiential information and scientific data to facilitate a targeted approach to developing and delivering on an athlete’s performance potential. Currently she is juggling a full time role as a Sports Scientist (Performance & Technique Analyst) for the New Zealand Cycling Team alongside completion of my doctorate studies, riding and fundraising for World Bicycle Relief and coaching athletes privately.


Ryan Somers is a National Scouting Director and College Recruiting Expert for NCSA Athletic Recruiting, the largest and most trusted recruiting network for college coaches in the United States. Somers, a recent graduate from Northwestern University's Master's in Sports Administration program, has a very unique skillset in educating families, coaches and student athletes in recent trends of college recruiting in the United States. He was a multi-sport athlete in college, a two-time state champion, MVP and all-state selection athlete in high school. Among many focuses for NCSA, Somers has taken a lead role in bridging the gap for international students to find a program and university in the United States where they will succeed in the classroom and in their sport.


Paul Laursen wears a number of hats in the field of applied sport science. His primary role involves leading the Performance Physiology team at High Performance Sport New Zealand, which services the targeted Olympic sports of New Zealand. In addition, Paul is the Performance Scientist assigned to the coaches and support team of Triathlon New Zealand. His tertiary role is as an Adjunct Professor at AUT University, where he is involved in PhD supervision of applied research projects conducted by practitioners immersed within the country’s national sporting organisations. His research interests focus on methods of maximizing performance, and include training program design, thermoregulation, hydration, diet and substrate use during exercise, recovery, pacing, fatigue and heart rate variability, with more than 100 refereed manuscripts arising from this work.


Steve Stannard is a research academic and Professor in Exercise Physiology at the School of Sport and Exercise at Massey University.  He has a PhD Human Applied Physiology and also a Masters of Nutritional Science, both from the University of Sydney.  He conducts research at the interface of exercise science and human nutrition, and his work on fasting, endurance training, and nutritional impact on muscle recovery, is well regarded.  Prof. Stannard is often sought by the media for public comment about issues relating to sport performance, and in particular, supplements in sport.  In his younger years, Prof. Stannard represented Australia as a road-racing cyclist.  Steve is still a keen Masters competitor in bicycle racing, but mainly in the wake of his children; his daughter has represented NZ in the World Elite Triathlon Championships and Youth Olympics, and his oldest son has represented NZ at the World Road Cycling Championships.  Prof. Stannard has also held the position of a National Road Cycling Development Coach for a number of years, so understands what it takes for a young athlete to develop to their sporting potential.

Ko Ngati Awa me Ngapuhi nga iwi. Yvette McCausland-Durie is currently teaching at MANUKURA, a state special character school in Palmerston North.  Netball coaching is a significant part of Yvette’s life having coached numerous teams such as NZA, NZU21, ANZ PULSE Franchise, Central U23, Central National League, Ikaroa ki te Raki, Manawatu and MANUKURA teams over a sustained period of 11 years.  With two teenage children, she is aware of the positive opportunities sport and education collectively possess in impacting on people.  As a national athlete and coach herself, Yvette draws on her experiences and educational background to create models infused with Māori links.



Joe Hitchcock is the Chief Executive with Badminton New Zealand and has worked in a variety of roles in the sport industry in both New Zealand and Canada. A Massey University graduate, Joe started in the sector at a regional level before taking a national advisor role with SPARC (now Sport New Zealand). Following a strong interest in advocacy, Joe relocated to Vancouver, Canada where he led BC Athlete Voice, an athlete leadership and advocacy organisation formed as a legacy of the 2010 Vancouver Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games. During this time, he was also heavily involved in athlete support through provincial and national multisport games including the Canada Games and the North American Indigenous Games. Since returning to New Zealand and taking the Chief Executive role with Badminton New Zealand he has led a series of changes both at a strategic and operational level.

Alex Chiet graduated from Otago University with BPhEd and BCom and has since spent nearly 15 years on working in the sports system in New Zealand and overseas. For the last 2 years Alex has been leading the Pathway to Podium Programme for Sport NZ and the development of a Sport NZ Talent Plan. Sport NZ has just released the Talent Plan, a wonderful opportunity to ensure the NZ sporting system works together to provide the best possible environments to support athletes reach their potential in sport and life. Previously Alex was the High Performance Manager at New Zealand Football during the very successful 2010 All White campaign in South Africa. Alex then spent four years as the Chief Technical Officer for the Ontario Soccer Association in Canada leading change to player, coach and competition pathways through implementing the Canadian Soccer Associations Long Term Player World Cup model in Ontario. Alex has been the Coach and High Performance Manager at Surf Lifesaving NZ and spent over 4 years teaching both in Australia and the UK.


Alex McKenzie is currently employed by High Performance Sport New Zealand as the Manager of the Coach Accelerator Programme, which aims to develop coaches who are capable of coaching World and/or Olympic Champions. Alex has been in this role since the programme's inception in 2009, and since that time over 50 high performance coaches have participated in the three-year programme. Notable graduates include Steve Hansen (All Blacks Head Coach), Mike Hesson (Black Caps Head Coach), Janine Southby (Silver Ferns Head Coach), Gordon Walker (Coach of World & Olympic Champion Lisa Carrington) and a host of other high performance coaches whose athletes and teams have won Olympic & Commonwealth Games medals, World Championships and World Cups. Alex completed his PhD in Sport Psychology from the University of Victoria in Canada, and taught at Otago University's School of Physical Education for 10 years before taking up roles with the Highlanders and Hurricanes Super Rugby Franchises. He was an inaugural Board Member of the New Zealand Academy of Sport South Island, and has been a mental skills consultant to numerous high performance athletes and teams for over 20 years. He has been an active coach for over 25 years in both rugby and cricket.


Mark Stafford grew up in Palmerston North and did five years secondary school at Palmerston North Boy's High School and, even though he left Manawatu at age 20, he is still an ardent supporter of the Manawatu Turbos. After a muddled few years trying to find a career that lit his torch, he joined the TAB in 1997 just after the launch of Sports Betting in NZ. He has worked as a bookmaker for 14 years, the last 10 of which was as the senior rugby bookmaker. In recent times he has become the media manager and has a close working relationship with the National sporting bodies, player associations and media outlets. With the changing landscape of sport Mark has become heavily involved in the areas of anti corruption and match fixing threats and educating our local sports teams and officials on these topics. Mark with be the conference dinner speaker.


Mike Harnett is one of only a handful of highly qualified Sports Physiotherapists in New Zealand with the experience to deal with elite sports men and women. Mike completed a Bachelor of Physical Education at Otago University in 1979. He then owned and operated a gym in Palmerston North for 12 years. His interest in sports injuries led him to study Osteopathy in New Zealand and Physiotherapy at McMaster University in Ontario, Canada, graduating in 1995. Mike went on to complete his Masters in Sports Medicine at Griffith University, Gold Coast, Australia in 2002.  He is also a registered Acupuncturist and a member of the College of Physiotherapists as an advanced practitioner in Sport and Orthopedics.  Mike is a Francophile and will regale anyone who will listen in French. His other passions include rugby and his cows. He breeds Lowline Angus cattle and with 150 stock on hand it is more than a lifestyle hobby.

Paul Macdermid is a lecturer in coaching and sport science at the School of Sport and Exercise at Massey University and an elite sports person, having represented Great Britain at White Water Slalom Kayaking. He still enjoys participating in sport(s) and has spent a large proportion of the last 20 years involved in education and coaching at a variety of levels. Athletes he has assisted during this time have competed at World Championship and Olympic level since 2005 for Track Cycling, Road Cycling, Cross Country Mountain Biking, Athletics, Cross Country Running, White Water Canoe slalom, White Water Racing, and Flat Water Canoeing. His current research interests lie within sports performance and ergonomic aspects of Cross Country Mountain Biking, Athletics and Slalom Kayaking.


Kate Morland is a NZ Registered Dietitian, Sports Nutritionist and Personal Trainer at Studio Rubix in Palmerston North, which she co-owns with her husband Toby. She works with a range of recreational and elite athletes, teams and sports organisations. Athletes she has assisted have competed at national and international levels for rugby, rugby sevens, triathlon, running and track/road cycling to name a few codes. Kate is often called in to speak to various groups and teams on how to maximise their nutrition for performance. She is a mother of three, business owner and avid adventure sport seeker in her spare time.


Andy Martin is an Associate Professor at Massey University, leading the professional development program in Sport Management and Coaching. He is actively involved in coaching, managing and participating in a wide variety of sports. He holds professional coaching qualifications in football and tennis, has participated in the NZ Ironman, and most recently for NZ at the age group World Triathlon Championships. Andy is co-author of ‘Legends in Black’, a best seller on why the All Blacks win.


Paul King is a career soldier and has completed a combined 37 years Regular and Reserve Army service including operational service in Bougainville, Mozambique, East Timor and Afghanistan. His current appointment is Deputy Commander 1st NZ Brigade, Linton. In 2005, he was approached by Palmerston North Boys' High School to establish a leadership programme in the school. This character education and leadership programme was developed and has evolved over an 11-year period with a defined leadership journey from Year 9 -13 embracing experiential learning in the classroom, but primarily in an outdoor environment across all facets of school life.

Sian Clancy is the Education Manager for Drug Free Sport New Zealand (New Zealand's Anti-doping Organisation), and prior to this was a Programme Manager at Netball New Zealand. She graduated from the University of Canterbury with a Masters of Education (MEd) in 2012 with a thesis focusing on youth athletes and their perceptions of self-satisfaction through participation in modified and traditional games. Prior to this research Sian received a Post graduate diploma in Education (PGDipEd) and a Bachelor of Sport Coaching (BSpC), also from the University of Canterbury. Sian recently developed and launched a state of the art Anti-doping E-learning programme and Learning Management System for use by all NZ athletes, their support personnel and schools within NZ and for those based overseas. She will also be undertaking her PhD in 2016 in the field of Anti-doping attitudes, behaviours in youth and prevention programmes with youth athletes specific to New Zealand contexts. Sian has experience both internationally and nationally as an athlete and coach in Netball, gymnastics and figure skating as well as a passion about seeing the spirit of sport shine, internationally and domestically, through participation in clean sport. This experience and passion is what Sian incorporates into her day to day work with New Zealand's Olympic, High Performing and development athletes and their support personnel.


Leigh Signal is an Associate Professor at the Sleep/Wake Research Centre, Massey University, Wellington. Her area of expertise is the role of sleep and the biological clock in human performance. She has worked extensively with organisations such as Air New Zealand, Helicopters New Zealand, South African Airways and Boeing Commercial Airplanes to help them understand and manage fatigue in their environment. She has also consults to the Serious Crash Investigation Unit and the Transport Accident Investigation Commission on the role of fatigue in serious incidents. Alongside her consultancy work she oversees a range of research projects investigating the relationship between sleep and physical and mental health. Leigh is also a contributor to the Coach Accelerator Programme run by High Performance Sports New Zealand; focusing on helping coaches better manage their sleep and performance and the sleep and performance of their athletes.


Luke Rowe is of Ngāti Tuwharetoa and Ngāti Raukawa descent and currently working for Te Tihi o Ruahine and Central PHO in Palmerston North as a Clinical Psychologist. Luke contributes to the Clinical Psychology Programmes at both Otago and Victoria Universities as a guest Teaching Clinician. In his spare time, Luke is an active whānau member and sportsperson having recently completed Ironman Taupō in 2015 and previously playing rugby at a representative level in both Manawatu and Wellington. These diverse interests allow Luke to fuse his two passions of Psychology and Sport into one to better understand this ever expanding space.


Lana McCarthy has a background as a physical education teacher and netball development officer. She is currently an Assistant Lecturer in physical education at Massey University. In 2015 she was a lead coach in the Manawatu “Pathway to Pulse” high performance programme and the assistant coach of the Central Zone U23 netball team. Currently she is the head coach for the Palmerston North Girls High School Senior A1 and the Manawatu U17A representative team.  

Trained as a Phys.Ed teacher at Otago University, Peter Finch has taught in schools in the UK, South Africa and here in NZ. Many years spent conditioning professional rugby players in England has given him an insight into what is right and wrong in the development of younger athletes aspiring to compete at the top level. Several years working with broken Red Bull extreme athletes has also indicated physical educators and conditioners alike have got it wrong more times than not. Research during his time with the then IRB shows there is another way.

Matthew Conger has been refereeing football for over 20 years; first in the US and for the last 12 years in New Zealand, proudly based in Palmerston North. A FIFA referee since 2013, Matthew referees on the ASB Premiership and the Hyundai A-League. As part of a growing list of accomplishments, he refereed at the U-20 FIFA World Cup and the FIFA Club World Cup in 2015 and has been selected to be part of the FIFA referee programme working towards the FIFA World Cup 2018 in Russia.