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Rangi Ruru Student to Represent NZ in Bali

2 July 2014 Media Release

Rangi Ruru Student to Represent New Zealand in Bali

The first South Island school student in 25 years to represent New Zealand at the International Biology Olympiad leaves Christchurch today (Wednesday 2 July).

Rangi Ruru Year 13 student Hanseul Nam, has been selected as one of only four students nationwide (and the only female) to attend the competition in Bali which will see more than 60 countries around the world take part.

Hanseul is extremely excited about the competition and winning a place came out of the blue.

“I was in shock. I wasn't expecting it,” she says. “I thought it would be really cool if I did but I was happy to have been a part of the selection process which was an incredible experience in itself.”

The exceptionally talented and hardworking student sat a two-hour nationwide entrance exam at the end of last year together with more than 1000 others, after which she was selected to take part in an online training and tutorial programme with 120 students from around the country. Then another exam followed, whittling the number down to 24, who all attended a “residential camp” in Auckland, during the last school holidays.

“Ten days of labs and lectures, it was intense and lots of fun,” says Hanseul. She adds that the ten days of labs were equivalent to most of the first year curriculum “but obviously not everything! The courses equivocates on more of the practical side of things than the theory.”

Over the last couple of days of the camp, students sat another examination and the final four were chosen following that. Two boys from Auckland and one from Wellington make up the full New Zealand team.

Hanseul Nam wants to study medicine when she leaves school; something she has wanted to do since seeing her first episode of TV show, “Grey’s Anatomy”.

“I was 7. It was a dream at first and then realised I really did want to do it. I think that everyone has something they are good at and this is what I am good at,” she says.

Science Faculty Head, Lorna van den Ende, says Hanseul was selected for the Chemistry and Biology Olympiads and had to make a difficult choice as she couldn’t attend both.

“Hanseul is an incredibly well rounded student and a really lovely young woman. She is in the school choir and has just taken up debating this year. We are very proud of her,” she says.

Hanseul is taking the upcoming competition and travel all in her stride.

“I don't really get stressed, I'm quite good at coping with that. I like doing well and it feels good,” she says.

ENDS For more information please contact Ali Jones on 027 2473112 Page 2 of 2

Hanseul’s schedule:

Heads to Bali today at 3pm for 10 days (back on 15th July) then back for five days, off to London (20th July), for the London International Youth Science Forum, which was offered to secondary students by the Royal Society of NZ.

Hanseul was selected after sending in her NCEA results, CV and a letter. Three students from New Zealand were selected (one other is from Rangiora). The forum runs for three weeks; two weeks in London visiting research centres, Universities and R and D centres, as well as hearing from famous speakers including Nobel Laureates.

A smaller group from the forum goes to Paris and Switzerland, to the CERN - home to the large Hadron Collider and the Higgs Boson research, and Hanseul is a part of that group.

The Royal Society is sponsoring Hanseul and she sought sponsorship from local small businesses. The Rangi Ruru Foundation also sponsored Hanseul. She Lives in Styx Mill in Christchurch.


The International Biology Olympiad (IBO) is a science Olympiad for High School students under the age of 20.

The first academic international Olympiads after the (originally Eastern European-based) International Mathematical Olympiad, were launched under the auspices of the United Nations in the 1960s. The programmes have gradually expanded to include more than 70 participating countries across five continents. The IBO is one of these Olympiads.

All participating countries send the four winners of their National Biology Olympiad to the IBO, accompanied by usually one team leader and two observers/jurors.


The aims of the IBO are to promote a career in science for talented students and to stress the importance of biology in our current society. It also provides a great opportunity to compare educational methods and exchange experiences. This is useful information to improve biology education on a national level. Since the organisation of every National Olympiad requires the cooperation of many institutions, (such as Ministries of Education, industry, teachers' associations, universities and schools), communication and cooperation between those institutions is promoted and intensified. Lastly, the IBO stimulates contact between students and teachers from many countries in a friendly environment. To demonstrate this, both students and teachers swear an oath of behaving according to the principles of fair play.


The competition itself is composed of a theoretical and practical element. The theory exams cover a wide range of Biology: Cell Biology, Molecular Biology, Plant Anatomy and Physiology, Animal Anatomy and Physiology, Ethology, Genetics and Evolution, Ecology, and Biosystematics. The marks are scaled so that the theory and practical components each have a weighting of about fifty percent.

All participants are ranked based on their individual scores. These are based on the results of a theoretical and a practical test, each making up approximately fifty percent of the final score. Gold medals are awarded to the top ten percent of students, silver medals are awarded to the next twenty percent of students and bronze medals are awarded to the next thirty percent of students.

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