In our series profiling the stalwarts who shaped the NZSIA, by decade, we kick it off back where it all began; the 70’s! By no means a complete or exhaustive list of the many people who contributed to the formative years, here are some of the key venerable individuals who banded together to make it happen.

The international nature of the organisation, evident from the outset, is nicely summed up by John Armstrong, “A passionate group of Kiwis who saw a need for an instructor’s association shook hands with a generation of overseas instructors who were incredibly supportive of the concept. It certainly helped that they were extremely generous, talented, and dedicated professionals. This was the magic chemistry of the NZSIA”.

NZSIA demonstration team at Mt Hutt, 1978. Lapels were a thing in the 70’s! L – R, Robin Armstrong, Des Peters (manager), Tony Graham, John Armstrong (Coach), Fraser Skinner, Scott Callaway, Russell Thomson, Chrissie Rawlings.

John Armstrong

From the Taranaki town of Hāwera, John was in the vanguard of New Zealanders taking the reins of the NZSIA after the initial and invaluable Northern Hemisphere assistance. Over an illustrious career John became the first New Zealander to serve as Chief Examiner and Technical Director (1976 – 1983), was Coach of New Zealand’s first Interski team (in 1979, and again in 1983) and authored two NZSIA teaching manuals. He has been an NZSIA member for over 50 years.

John’s crucial role in the first decade of the NZSIA existence across the spectrum of instruction, coaching, demonstrating, training, certification and technical writing helped lay foundations for the subsequent growth and development.

Pursuing his professional career in the US in 1983, John secured full time employment at Mammoth Mountain, California going on to direct the Mammoth Race Department, Junior Ski Team, the Unbound Park, Ski School, a Corporate Training initiative amongst other roles.

Serving terms as President of both the PSIA and the US Ski Coaches Association, John’s abilities have been widely recognised across the snowsports industry. Now retired from his role at Mammoth Mountain, John has flipped the script and instead of back-to-back winters is enjoying “endless summers” between his beloved Mammoth Lakes and New Zealand’s Far North.

  • PSIA: Lifetime Achievement Award, 50-year member, President and Chairman of the Board 2000-2006, International VP 2008-2011. Presented PSIA Keynote Paper to the Crans Montana Interski 2003. PSIA Alpine Demonstration Team selector 1996-2008.
  • US Ski Coaches Association: President 1983-1987. US Ski Association: Board of Directors 1980-1989, Level 500 Coach.
  • Ecole Nationale de Ski et Alpinisme, France. 1974.Certified “Stage Auxiliere” ski instructor at the French National School for Skiing and Climbing in Chamonix.

Norm Crerar

A CSIA Level 4 instructor and demonstration team member, Norm was NZSIA Chief Examiner for three seasons, 1974 – 1976, inheriting the famous shoebox of material containing course materials that was the initial repository for the organisation’s paperwork. Norm provided edits to the first manual developed by his predecessor Mike DesBrisay and with his Interski experiences, mentorship as the NZSIA set out to achieve the goal of sending a demonstration team to Interski for the first time.

“I have so many great memories of those early days of the NZSIA, what we accomplished and who was involved. I am immensely proud of the NZSIA and proud to have been a part of it”,
Norm Crerar

Norm was delighted to welcome the New Zealand team to his home, for Interski, Banff in 1987, as President of the CSIA Interski Committee.

  • Member of CSIA’s National Board of Directors from 1975 to 1987.
  • CSIA President from 1980 to 1987.
  • Member of the lnterski Demo Team:1971 Garmisch, 1975 Czechoslovakia,1979 Zao.
  • Member of the Interski Committee from 1983 to 1999.
  • President of the Interski Committee from 1995 to 1999.
  • Taught at Sunshine Village, Mt. Snow, Vermont, Ski School Director at Big Vanilla, NY.
  • Director of the Sunshine Village Ski Resort in Banff from 1977 to 1981.
  • Partner/General Manager at Silver Star Mountain from 1981 to 1993.
  • 2024 recipient of the Canada’s Volunteer Awards in the community leader category for British Columbia, involved in the community for decades and one of the driving forces behind the annual Okanagan Military Tattoo.
Coronet Peak in the 70’s ©Lakes District Museum & Gallery, Arrowtown.

Mike DesBrisay

One of the leading Canadians in a contingent of CSIA Level 4 instructors arriving in 1972 to teach at Coronet Peak. Instrumental in the first few seasons of NZSIA, Mike served as Chief Examiner in 1973. That year saw the first Stage 2 certification course and at the request of the committee members Mike produced the first manual.

“Though I had planned to return for the 1974 season a last-minute opportunity came up for me in Alberta and so I passed the torch on to Norm Crerar who took the reins from there. I have to say that thanks to the NZSIA during my time in New Zealand I had the opportunity to see a great deal of your wonderful country. The experience of having been involved in the beginning of the NZSIA was a great experience and one that I will treasure forever”.
Mike DesBrisay

Mike raced nationally as a member of the Quebec ski team, was a founding member of the Canadian Ski Coaches Federation, has been active in the highest levels of the CSIA and is a member of their Hall of Fame. He continues to teach private lessons in Banff and conduct clinics.

  • CSIA Level 1, 2 and 3 Course Conductor.
  • Member of Banff Interski ’87 Organizing Committee.
  • Member of the CSIA Board of Directors 1991 – 1999.
  • President, CSIA 1995 – 1999.

Tony Graham

Tony, a Commonwealth Games medalist representing New Zealand in swimming, was a successful Stage l candidate in 1971 at Mount Ruapehu after being encouraged by John Ball (who headed up the Chateau Ski School for many years and was an examiner) to take the course.

He was soon all in; combined with stints at California ski schools, such was his enthusiasm and abilities before too long Tony was managing a ski school of his own down South at Mt Hutt.

His tenure over more than a decade as President of the NZSIA – spanning the late 70’s and through the 80’s – oversaw significant developments including the additions of certifications for coaching, telemark and snowboarding. Tony also represented the NZSIA overseas including four Interski congresses and at home, hosting the 1985 ISIA meeting held in New Zealand.
As Ski School Director at Mt Hutt Tony fostered a strong NZSIA influence among the growing numbers of New Zealand instructors on the staff. Northern Hemisphere exchange programmes flourished with demonstration team members from the likes of Austria and Switzerland.

  • President, 1977 – 1989.
  • Trainer and Examiner.
  • Interski Demonstration Team member, 1979 Zao, 1982 Sesto.
  • Interski Team Manager, Banff 1987, St Anton 1991.

Mark Halliwell and Ted Sturt

Mark not only passed the first Stage l course in 1971, he was also the first President of the NZSIA (1971 – 1973). He wisely decided the new organisation ought to be incorporated as a non-profit society and he and Ted Sturt made sure that was accomplished

Ted Sturt, the North Island committee representative for 10 years, and Christchurch-based Mark were early linchpins of the newly formed NZSIA. They provided vital continuity and kept the newly formed Alliance moving when the first predominately Northern Hemisphere based examiners were back home in the summer.

1973 Canadian Chief Examiner Mike DesBrisay observed “we did the on-hill and technical part, but really without the great efforts behind the scenes of Mark Halliwell and Ted Sturt I don’t think the organization would have flourished in the early years. They are to be commended for their enthusiasm and energy to get the ball rolling”.

Gillian “Gilly” Hall (nee Macdonald), QSM (1950 – 2009)

Gillian Hall, the great grand-daughter of Sir Henry Lindo Ferguson, a former Dean of the Otago Medical School, was a pioneer of adaptive ski instruction in New Zealand. She was instrumental in setting up the NZ Association of Disabled Skiing in 1976 and was the inaugural Course Manager for NZSIA Adaptive training and certification 1976 – 1989.

Having earlier seen adaptive skiing programmes in Switzerland, Gillian returned to New Zealand with the hope of making adaptive skiing a reality in this country. Her dual role of physiotherapist and ski instructor made her a highly appropriate ambassador for the cause – she fully understood the impact of uneven snow slopes, excessive curves, and the challenges of various physical disabilities.

Gillian was a leader in sport for persons with a disability in New Zealand, and was a strong organizer of events and competitions. She worked with teams, held governance roles and also worked on the sport technical side. Gillian was instrumental in the success of previous Paralympic Winter Games and Championships due to her expertise and commitment to Paralympic Sport.

  • Physiotherapy advisor to the New Zealand Disabled Ski Team.
  • Board Member of both Disabled Snowsports New Zealand and the National Paralympic Committee (NPC) of New Zealand.
  • 4 x Paralympic Games in various roles; team manager and physio advisor.
  • Awarded the inaugural New Zealand Ski Association’s Skier of Year Award (1978)
  • Queen’s Service Medal for her services to the sport and the disabled (1986).

James (Jim) Isham (1940 – 2018)

Originally from Texas, Jim was a manager and examiner on the first ski instruction courses in 1971 along with Collin Haffey and played a key role in formation of the NZSIA. A PSIA examiner and later Board Member (1988 – 1991) in the Rocky Mountain Division his experience was invaluable to the embryonic NZSIA training and certification programme. As Ski School Director at Copper Mountain, Colorado he fostered an instructor exchange programme with Mt. Hutt, that also grew to include patrollers. His successor at Copper Mountain, Shawn Smith, was a PSIA Demonstration Team member and also an examiner for the NZSIA in the late 70’s. In later life Jim founded a company providing consulting and expert witness services to snow activities.

Clive Manners-Wood

As President (1974 – 1976), Clive attended Interski in Czechoslovakia in 1975 and was instrumental in New Zealand being accepted into the fold of the ISIA. He tabled the NZSIA intention to attend the next Interski in Zao, Japan, with a demonstration team.

Clive is still close to where it all began, on his lavender farm below the slopes of Coronet Peak.

US skiing in the 70’s

Des Peters, ONZOM

A key figure in this country’s snow sports industry for decades, here is the bio that accompanied the official notice of bestowing the honour of Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2022.

Mr Peters in 1968 as one of very few New Zealanders certified with an internationally accredited Ski Instructors Association, he returned to New Zealand jointly established the first professionally accredited and operated Ski School at Mt Taranaki. During the mid-1970s he introduced the first Stone Grinding machines and snow-making machinery and equipment to New Zealand’s ski slopes, helping to guarantee ski and snowboard seasons in our environment.

Mr Peters was the Secretary, Treasurer, and National Committee Member of the New Zealand Ski Instructors Alliance from 1974 to 1987. During this time, he led a team that developed the organisation into a nationally and internationally recognised certification body, supporting New Zealand instructors entering the industry to gain qualifications for employment in New Zealand and overseas.

  • NZSIA Secretary / Treasurer 1974 – 1987.
  • Interski Team Manager Zao 1979, Sesto 1982.
  • President and Vice President New Zealand Snow Industries Federation 1991 – 1997.
  • Ski Areas Association Chairman 2005 – 2015.
  • NZSIA Honorary Life Member 1983.
  • New Zealand Snowsports Council “Contribution to Snowsports” Award in 1998.
  • Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the Snowsport Industry, 2022.

Jon Reveal (1945 – 2022)

Another of the Alliance’s first examiners, Jon Reveal grew up ski racing in California and then trained and taught in France in the 60’s, attaining Stage Nationale level with Ecole du Ski Francais (ESF). After first meeting Warren Miller in Courchevel, France in 1969 he skied in no less than15 of his films.

Jon was a key contributor in the earliest days of the New Zealand National Ski School, as the fledgling organization was first known in 1971, training and examining the very first Stage l courses. An examiner with PSIA Far West Division Jon remarked in 2021, “We might have launched the ship, but it was the NZ instructors that sailed it from there to where it is today.”

Gravitating into resort management in Colorado he was on the Keystone development team, Snowmass mountain manager and eventually vice president of operations for Aspen Skiing Company from 1992 – 1996. In later years Jon also helped plan and develop the Yellowstone Club in Montana and held management posts at Mont Ste-Anne, Quebec, Angel Fire, New Mexico and Tamarack Resort, Idaho.

Jon Reveal, third from right, while filming with Warren Miller