Four Locals Travel the Globe Representing NZ

Year 12 St Andrew’s College student Iona Lawson is off to the World Pipe Band Competition

Year 11 Rudolph Steiner School student Sophia Cook, is representing NZ at the Australian Youth Climbing Competition

Year 13 Girls High School student Amelie Wink has just returned from surfing in El Salvador

Four local high school students are travelling to different parts of the globe to represent NZ in international competitions. The Sumner Ferrymead Foundation recently gave grants to the four teenagers in the Foundation’s catchment area to assist with the costs associated with competing at an international level. Regardless of whether you are off to Scotland for the World Pipe Band Competition, El Salvador for the ISA World Longboard Championships, the USA for the Future Problem Solving Competition or Australia for the Youth Climbing Competition, it’s not an inexpensive exercise so fund-raising is essential.

John Christensen, a trustee of Sumner Ferry Foundation, said whilst the focus of the Foundation was the annual Scholarships and Awards Programme, they also provided grants to individuals and community organisations within the Foundation’s catchment area. “When I look at the calibre of the of those applying for the travel grants, I suspect they will be applying for one of the academic scholarships or awards once they start their tertiary education, or for an Outward Bound Scholarship. We have some talented kids in our community, and it’s great to be able to assist them represent their country.

Year 12 St Andrew’s College student Iona Lawson is off to the World Pipe Band Competition. She started playing in the school’s C Band in Year 9 and has worked her way up through the grades. In 2021 she won the Grade 2 NZ Championships but covid put an end to competing internationally until this year. “We needed to raise a lot of money so I’ve been working at the local supermarket, busking and applying for grants. I need to fit this in between school work, the Duke of Edinburgh Award and sport, so fortunately, I’m pretty organised!” said Iona. Maybe it’s her heritage, but Scotland is well and truly in her veins; not only was she born there, she’s considering Dunedin when it comes to attending university.

Year 11 St Margaret’s College student Holly Sawyer and her team mates have been invited to attend the International Future Problem Solving Competition after winning the NZ competition last November. 80 to 100 teams from around the world will be competing in the five day event where they must solve a hypothetical problem of the future. The competition teaches critical and creative thinking, problem solving and decision making. “

For the NZ competition the topic was mining, and for the international competition it will be currency” said Holly. “Whilst we don’t know what the actual hypothetical problem concerning currency will be, we can do some research before we go. We then use a six step process to come up with a solution within two hours. The challenge is to balance the creativity of the solution with a degree of practicality, it’s a fine balance.” Like all the grant applicants, Holly must balance raising funds to travel with study with sport. “It gets pretty busy when you are studying, playing football, lifeguarding, applying for grants, baby-sitting and doing a paper run, but it’s worth it!

Year 11 Rudolph Steiner School student Sophia Cook, is representing NZ at the Australian Youth Climbing Competition in the Lead Climbing section. Sophie has always loved climbing; as a child it was rocks and trees, but when she began climbing in a gym two years ago she ‘got the bug’. Initially she began bouldering in the gym – no ropes are used and the focus is the difficulty of the movements - as part of an after-school programme, but she knew she needed to get her own shoes! She then progressed to lead climbing where ropes are used and the focus in endurance. Sophia placed 2nd in the NZ Nationals in the Lead Climbing section, qualifying her to join the NZ Youth Team.

One of the highlights of Sophia’s climbing career has been her recent experience of climbing in Fiordland. “Climbing outdoors brings new challenges, particularly mental challenges where you have to overcome the fear of falling, and you need to stay calm to control your breathing as you plan your route.” A self-confessed ‘sort of adrenaline junkie’, Sophia loves skiing, surfing, skate boarding and hiking.

Year 13 Girls High School student Amelie Wink has just returned from El Salvador where she was the youngest member in the NZ team competing in the ISA World Longboard Championships. Amelie’s love of the surf started when she was 7 when she and her dad learnt to stand-up paddle board together, and attended her first national surfing competition when she was 13. El Salvador was her first international competition where she competed against the top female surfers from around the world. “

It was a fantastic experience. We had 20 minutes to surf, and as there were only two others out there with me, I had plenty of opportunities to catch some great waves. Whilst I was happy with the waves I caught, I got a nasty gastro bug and it impacted on my performance,” said Amelie. “I had done a lot of land based training to build muscle memory before I went, and any spare moment I had I’d be in the water practising.

For more information on the Sumner Ferrymead Foundation grants programme for individuals, team or community organisations, go to