Jade Wharemate

Jade Wharemate

Ngāti Haua (Waikato)

Jade Wharemate knew from an early age that she wanted a career in sports. From Reporoa, she thrived at the University of Waikato, excelling in health, sport, and human performance.

Jade Wharemate

Growing up in Reporoa, a small town on the back road between Taupō and Rotorua, Jade spent her days playing every sport under the sun with her friends and family. She played netball and basketball all through school and excelled at PE and music at Reporoa College where she was head girl.

The choice to enrol at the University of Waikato to study health, sport and human performance was an easy one.

Jade appreciated the Hamilton campus for its sports facilities and UniRec gym. She lived in the Halls of Residence (College Hall) in her first year. It was still close enough for her to drive home regularly to see her whānau. She was thrilled to receive scholarships from her iwi and the Rotorua Lakes Trust during her three-year bachelor’s degree.

“Waikato was the perfect fit for me. The uni has loads of connections with top sporting teams, which gives you the opportunity to work with some incredible athletes. There are some amazing lecturers too who are top in their fields and really want the best for their students.”

Jade threw herself into university life. She was a Māori student mentor, got involved with Māori roopu (group) Tumata Kokiri, and represented Waikato in the tertiary games for netball and basketball.

Jade says her work-integrated learning placements were “amazing” and gave her a good grounding in research skills. Her first placement was at Wintec where Jade collected data from paracyclists undergoing heat acclimation testing in preparation for the Tokyo Olympics. Another placement saw her working under the supervision of Steve Fenemor (who is now performance physiologist at High Performance Sport New Zealand), doing heat testing of the New Zealand Rugby Sevens teams at the University of Waikato Adams Centre for High Performance in Tauranga.

Jade admits her journey has had its challenges. In the third year of her degree, her beloved Koro, Roy Werahiko, passed away.

“My Koro was the most generous and knowledgeable person you’d ever meet,” she says. “He was always very supportive of everything that I did. He taught me to fight for what I wanted and to never give up. He also showed me the importance of family and friends and taught me to be proud to be Māori. I believe that all these lessons made me stronger and gave me the ability to strive to be the best version of myself.”

With the support of family and friends, Jade pushed on through and completed her Bachelor of Health, Sport and Human Performance with stellar grades. She was invited to join the Waikato chapter of the Golden Key Honours Society.

Jade embarked on her master’s degree and received a University of Waikato Masters Research Scholarship, worth $15,000, to support her research. She is researching the effects of using blood flow restriction as a potentiation tool in trained female athletes. The aim of her research is to restrict the blood going into the lower limbs to see if the method will help increase power and improve 10m or 20m sprint times and loaded squat jumps.

Gaining a master’s will get Jade another step closer to her goal of working with elite athletes.

When it comes to her ‘why’, Jade says whānau is her primary motivation.

“I really look up to my mum because she is extremely strong, she has been through a lot throughout her life but she still managed to get myself and my siblings to where we are today,” says Jade. “Mum is always there to help people in need. She encourages me to be strong and be the best that I can be.”

Jade may be the first in her immediate family to gain a university degree, but she doesn’t want to be the last.

“I’m motivated to succeed to inspire my younger siblings and cousins. I want to show them that no matter how hard things may seem, they can achieve anything they put their minds to.”

Jade Wharemate