In the era before secondary school sport became a shop-window for many commercial sporting enterprises, the Ministry of Education recognised the importance of organised sport in developing the qualities for youth to participate fully in adult life.

Harry Atmore's primary concern when appointed Minister of Education in 1928 was that every child in New Zealand should have the opportunity to develop his or her full potential.

Atmore represented Nelson in Rugby Union, was a member of the Nelson Athletic and Cycling Club and acquired a love of outdoor pursuits that characterised him all his life. In 1919 he was elected for Nelson as an "independent MP" (although he usually voted in support of the Labour party) and he remained Nelson's representative for the next 27 years.