by Chris Tobin
Timaru man Sash Nukada has won a prestigious prize at the annual New Zealand Outdoor Instructors Association (NZOIA) Excellence Awards, hosted by Outward Bound in Anakiwa on Saturday.
Mr Nukada, the sustainability and outdoor education programme leader at Ara Institute of Canterbury’s Timaru campus, was awarded the Tall Totara Award for his contribution to outdoor instructing and dedication to passing on his love of adventure.
“I was floored,” Mr Nukada (46) said.
“I was almost embarrassed and thought I still had to work hard and maybe have a chance when I’m 60.”
NZOIA chairwoman Gillian Wratt said Mr Nukada was an accomplished climber and educator who had remained humble despite his considerable achievements.
“His mix of technical ability, patience and humour are renowned in the industry and he has played an important role in inspiring many of the outdoor instructors who are working across New Zealand today.”
Mr Nukada has climbed 10 of New Zealand’s highest peaks and holds NZOIA Bush 2, Alpine 2 and Rock 2 qualifications.
His outdoors experience has included climbing in Yosemite, Arapiles and Thailand, trekking in Nepal, snowboarding in Japan and mountaineering in the Indian Himalayas.
“I was at uni at Otago when rock climbing walked in and took over my life and I was really into skiing as well,” he said explaining how he got involved in the outdoors.
His mountaineering highlight was climbing the highest peak in Fiordland National Park, Mt Tutoko.
“It’s quite remote and there are no huts or help nearby.”
Before coming to Timaru in 2009, he worked at Outward Bound and Hillary Outdoors.
“I noticed most of the new staff at Anakiwa and Hillary Outdoors came from here, so I landed here in Timaru.”
He has led the programme since 2012 and believed Timaru was more than “holding its own”, as its graduates had won five of the NZOIA emerging instructor awards in the past seven years.
This year’s winner was Lacey Beadle, now an outdoor instructor at Outward Bound, who was on the Timaru course.
The awards dinner was held as part of a four-day NZOIA National Training Symposium, attended by more than 150 outdoor guides, instructors and assessors from around New Zealand.