William Pike’s tenacious passion for life has helped him to overcome serious challenges, tackle new opportunities and enrich his skills as leader.
Losing a leg after being trapped in a volcanic eruption on Mt Ruapehu has not changed William’s outlook on life, nor has it stopped him from doing the things that he loves. He climbs mountains, goes bushwalking, scuba diving, hunting and kayaking.
An impassioned teacher, he leads a nationwide youth development programme, teaching Kiwi kids they, too, can do anything they put their minds to. And he is a sought-after motivational speaker and a role model to people of all ages.
Growing up in Auckland, William acquired a love of New Zealand’s great outdoors. At Westlake Boys High School, he was an avid sportsman – a three-time national water polo champion – and developed a zeal for outdoor pursuits. In 2006, he graduated with a Bachelor of Education with first class honours, and became a teacher at Clevedon School in Auckland.
A year later – on September 25, 2007 – William climbed Mt Ruapehu with a friend, James Christie; on their way back down, in fading light, decided to stay the night near the crater lake. That evening, Ruapehu erupted, spilling a lahar of rocks, water and mud down its slopes and into their hut. Crushed and critically injured, William hung onto life while James ran down the mountain to get help. Doctors called William’s survival a miracle. But his crushed right leg had to be amputated below the knee. After a long series of surgeries and a gruelling rehabilitation, William learned to walk again with a prosthetic limb. He returned to the classroom – at Murrays Bay School – and eventually returned to the mountain.
Ten years after the accident, William climbed Mt Scott in Antarctica, one of four young adventurers chosen for the Inspiring Explorers Expedition led by the Antarctic Heritage Trust.
A natural leader of young people, William is the director of a youth development programme called the William Pike Challenge Award that’s all about growing a world full of explorers. Since it’s inception in 2010 it has grown to involve nearly 60 schools in 2017 from around NZ and continues to expand including a school in South Korea. The programme aims to grow resilient, confident and connected Kiwi kids by encouraging them to embrace new challenges, enjoy the great outdoors, engage with the community and interact with positive role models. In a fast-paced world driven by technology and change, William believes developing our future generations of New Zealanders is critical.
He is in demand as a motivational speaker, and a role model around the world, connecting with people of all ages through his positivity and passion for life.
William’s determination to succeed without limits has also been recognised with several awards: a 2014 KiwiBank Local Hero medal, an AMP Bank Regional Scholarship and a 2015 Young New Zealander of the Year finalist and 2017 Blake Leader Award Recipient.
His book Every Day’s A Good Day tells his inspirational life story so far; the title reflecting his outlook on life before and after the accident.
“The strengths and virtues needed to overcome adversity or to face big challenges is a combination of mindset and teamwork. It’s important we have self-belief, be focused and resilient, and build a strong team around us – at home, in the community and at work. So, when things go pear-shaped in life, we have good people there to help us, and we can help these people too.” adds William.