Paul Henson, the Man Behind Taupo Multisport Event 30Sports1Day, is Inspiring New Zealand to Overcome Obesity

By Tristan Hooker/MediaPA

25 November 2017
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You might think Paul Henson is an extraordinary man.  He’s not.  He’s an ordinary man with a typical Kiwi upbringing.  What makes him stand out is his appreciation of arriving in his mid-life years feeling fit, strong and healthy.  Now he plans to spread this feeling of health and happiness around the country, starting with a one-off, inspirational event called 30Sports1Day, in which Paul will challenge himself to do 30 sports, all in one day, to inspire New Zealanders to commit to 30 minutes of exercise every day – the goal recommended by international government health organisations.

The event will be held in Taupo on 17 February 2018 and will involve Paul taking on sports such as mountain biking, rock climbing, a sky-dive, a bungy jump, cricket, motocross and many, many more.

What would motivate a man to take on such a colossal challenge?

“Well, I’ve done a lot of different sports since I was in my teens and 20s, over 30 years or so,” says Paul, who will be 57 when he completes the challenge. 

“In those days we didn’t have any Go Pros or waterproof cameras or anything so I don’t have photos or any videos of the sports I’ve done so I decided to do them all again.  I thought, well, I like a challenge so I’ll do them all in one day!  Then I thought, if I’m going to do that, there will be a lot of organising and a lot of other people involved so I’d like do it for some sort of charity.”

Paul decided to use the event to raise awareness of obesity and the issues surrounding the disease. 

“Obesity has been a huge issue, pardon the pun, for quite a number of years,” says Paul.  “We’ve recently scored third in the OECD and 24th in the world for the most obese countries, which is just hopeless.  I can see obviously a big correlation between lack of exercise and sport and being overweight. 

“I want people to be inspired by what I’m doing.  I’m always inspired by people who can do things I haven’t done and I’m hoping the same will happen here.  It’s a different event and it will create some awareness.  I hope to use that awareness to introduce a long term solution.”

The long term solution Paul is talking about is his next project, called H5 Corporate Health Competition.  Paul describes H5 as a competition for companies along the lines of the old Top Town competitions from years past, where towns from around New Zealand competed in sports competitions.  Only this time it will be businesses competing to be the healthiest workplace. 

“The 30 sports in one day event is only going to be a temporary thing but it might create some interest and it might help a number of people, which would be great, but it’s not a long term solution so that’s why I came up with H5, which we’re going to launch a bit later.”

For now, Paul has his focus on February and the mammoth challenge he has set himself, which has turned out to be a bigger task than he thought it would be.

“There’s going to be a lot of organising to get it all to happen on the day.  I think the main thing, though, is that everyone I’ve mentioned it to has been enthused about it.  There hasn’t been a negative comment.  People think it’s a great idea and we do need to do something about obesity, because there’s a lot of talk about the situation but not a lot of solutions. 

“The thing for me is that nothing’s working.  We’re getting fatter.  There’s a lot of talk about this and that programme, diets and everything else but nothing’s actually working because the problem is, all that information is aimed at individuals.  And the individual doesn’t care, so that’s the end of that.  It’s all great information but it’s just not working.”

“I’d like people to be inspired by doing sports.  And I guess the key is, if I can do 30 sports in a day, you can do 30 minutes a day.”  

To find out more about 30Sports1Day or to see how you can get involved as a volunteer, check out the 30Sports1Day website or Facebook page.