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Wairoa College heads for the rugby fields and battlefields

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Wairoa College heads for the rugby fields and battlefields of Europe

The Wairoa College Rugby Academy is planning an ambitious once in a lifetime European tour in 2015 with the help of Student Horizons, a company which facilitates international travel for schools and sports teams.

Coinciding with the Rugby World Cup, 32 boys of Maori and Pacific decent, will travel through the UK and Ireland before crossing to France and Belgium. Coordinated by Student Horizons, they will be playing rugby teams in five countries, staying with local families, visiting cultural and heritage sites including battlefields of Passchendaele and Ypres.

The development tour organised by the Wairoa College Academy and coordinated by Student Horizons will test and improve their skills but there is a much greater goal of making a lasting impact on their lives and on the Wairoa community.

“This tour represents life-changing opportunity for these teenagers” says Jamie Wansey of Student Horizons. “Our philosophy is enabling students to challenge, discover and achieve.

For Wairoa, like many low decile schools, there’s the significant challenge of working towards such an ambitious goal even before they’ve arrived at the airport. We look forward to supporting them through that."

JJ Solomon, Coach at Wairoa’s Rugby Academy is wholeheartedly behind the tour and is excited about the objectives “I’ve recently learnt an applicable Maori Phrase ‘Ahakoa he aha- Ka Taea!’ which communicates an idea that I try to instil in the boys, that ‘nothing is impossible’. For many of the boys having belief is the biggest challenge ahead” says JJ.

“They have a mammoth fundraising effort ahead, as well as maintaining attitude, behaviour and academics at school, committing to trainings and one another as a team, they must prove themselves worthy both on and off the field. This tour is an amazing motivator and a great incentive for all 32 boys."

“Visiting historic and cultural sites and being billeted with local families, they will be immersed in new cultures. Complementing that learning, they will also be researching their own culture, tracing their Maori lineage, learning about New Zealand’s involvement in the World Wars and finding pride from that."

With the hundredth anniversary of Passchendaele approaching, the tour includes the opportunity to visit the battlefield and bring home memories and pride from the experience.

The boys will be tracing their heritage, looking to see if their own grandfathers or ancestors were involved in battles of the Western Front.

The trip is extra ambitious for the relatively new Wairoa Rugby Academy. Formed in 2013 the Academy was established to keep good players in the district, developing teams that the community could get behind, whilst providing a positive environment.

Mike Karekare is the First Fifteen coach and knows the value of a trip such as this first hand “I remember my overseas trip when I attended Te Aute and played for their First Fifteen, I know these boys will treasure this for the rest of their lives. When we conceived the Academy, international tours were part of the plan, we knew it would really demonstrate what was possible if the community came together around rugby."

With the trip just announced, the fundraising begins almost immediately, with all 32 boys out looking for work and with team initiatives planned like hay bailing, lambing and crutching on the farms around Wairoa and beyond. As part of their service, Student Horizons helps teams prepare for the trip, not only coordinating the travel itinerary and games, but arranging safety and first aid training. In the case of Wairoa College Student Horizons have donated official fundraising collateral and will also be sponsoring their tour playing kit.


Background information
Student Horizons is New Zealand’s leading travel education company, based in Auckland New Zealand. The company coordinates safe experiential learning itineraries for school groups and sports groups travelling abroad. Services include transport accommodation and logistics as well as arranging sports fixtures and training experiences or educational and cultural elements.

Student Horizons is the only educational travel business that provides support, guidance and partnerships for fundraising initiatives, believing that international travel is achievable for all schools. Student Horizons is also heavily investing in community partnerships that complement their philosophy for young New Zealanders to challenge, discover and achieve.

As an example of fundraising partnership, Student Horizons works with Hawkes Bay’s The Village Press Olive Oil. Schools can sell the Olive Oil, generate donations from each sale, providing an channel which is also healthy, not sweet or fried. The programme is also incentivised, where, if a total of $500 of product is sold, the school or team can host an event with Masterchef winner Brett McGregor.

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