Leaders keen to give fellow pupils a voice


The Oamaru Mail is catching up with secondary school leaders across the district who are committed to making a difference in their schools and communities. This week, Kayla Hodge chats with Waitaki Boys’ High School head boy Ethan Reille and deputy head boys Sione Lea and Diederick Van Basten.

Head boy

Q Why did you want to be head boy, Ethan?
When I moved from Wellington at the beginning of year 9, my dean, Mr Cathcart, asked me, ‘‘What is your goal here at Waitaki Boys, Ethan?’’. I replied, ‘‘To be head boy’’. I saw the head boy role as an opportunity to be the leader I wanted to be, to give the students a voice and to leave my legacy behind at such a historic school. I’ve always wanted to help people, and I know with this role I can help students be the people and leaders they want to be, and to succeed in any area they’re passionate about.

Q What sort of impact has Waitaki Boys’ High School had on you?
Lately it’s become clear Waitaki Boys’ High School has really changed my life. Moving from Wellington was a major shift, but life here in Waitaki has suited me much more. The culture here at Waitaki Boys’ has had a huge impact on me and so many boys. We often refer it as a brotherhood and, put simply, that’s where we look after one another and treat each other as a family . . .a brotherhood. Waitaki Boys’ has shaped me into who I am today and I’m really appreciative of that.

Q What sort of influence do you hope to have on Waitaki Boys’ through your role this year?
I hope to be able to give students the confidence to feel comfortable in pursuing whatever they’re passionate about. We live in a really diverse community and I think it’ll be great to see our school continuing to showcase that.
I also want to have a big focus on mental health, and peer support. With a new guidance counsellor coming on board, we have a great opportunity to make some positive change here in school and across the community for everyone.

Q What extracurricular activities are you involved in?
I’m really passionate about being involved in the community and advocating for young people. I’m the chairperson for the Waitaki District Youth Council, student representative on our school board, a community development support for the Waitaki District Council, as well as one of the 120 Youth MPs for the 2022 Youth Parliament. I also really enjoy coaching teams in the social basketball league, and helping out wherever I can with the younger boys at school.

Q Do you have any plans for when you leave school?
Honestly, I don’t have a clear plan, but I think that’s OK for someone my age. What I know is that I’m not ready to continue on to university just yet. I’d love to continue my work for the council. Better yet, I’d like to take advantage of having family living in the UK and gain some communications and social experience over there — all Covid depending of course. But it would be awesome to be able to see another side of the world, and I’m excited for the journey that awaits.

Deputy head boy

Q Why did you want to be deputy head boy, Sione?
Ever since I started high school, seeing outstanding role models, such as the 2018 deputy head boy, Jacob Tuisani, and 2019 head boy Thomas Fielding, I have always felt the will and desire to follow in their footsteps. The way they showed the school values of respect, resilience, and motivation through their achievements and the way they communicated with the staff, and students, had a substantial influence on not only me, but most of the boys at school. So, in 2021 I decided to apply for the role of prefect and thankfully I was chosen to take on the role of deputy head boy, with one of my greatest friends, Diederick.

Q What is your proudest moment at Waitaki Boys’?
I feel like one of my proudest moments at Waitaki Boys’ High School, was achieving the gold He Ara Tika badge. He Ara Tika cards are given out to students for showing the school values of respect, resilience, and motivation, and every 20 is a badge from bronze to gold, then 100 cards for platinum. I felt a profound sense of achievement as few people in our school have achieved it, and it emphasises the values of what good Waitakians have, which is what I aspire to be.

Q Do you have any plans for when you leave school?
When I finish school, I wish to go to medical school at the University of Otago, as it is one of the best universities in the world with medicine, and I aspire to be a surgeon. I would like to be a surgeon because it gives me the opportunities to help others and better their lives. Another reason is, my mum is diabetic, and has had multiple surgeries, and seeing her struggle and the challenges she has had to face has opened my eyes and made me want to help others like her.

Q What extracurricular activities are you involved in?
Since I started at Waitaki Boys’ High School I have been heavily involved with the Polyfest groups. This is because it is great to experience a wide variety of diverse cultures such as the Tongan, Samoan, and Fijian cultures. What I enjoy the most about Polyfest would be getting involved and communicating with the boys at school, especially when practising our singing or dancing, as this builds stronger bonds as a group, and every time we go to Dunedin, we can show all the sweat, blood, and tears that we have put into our performance. Another extracurricular activity that I absolutely love would be the world’s greatest sport — rugby. I love getting involved and into heavy contact and just pushing myself to the limits, because it is great when you are ona field with teammates you trust. It is just the greatest feeling in the world.

Deputy head boy

Q Why did you want to be deputy head boy, Diederick?
Waitaki Boys’ is really one of the most inclusive and encouraging high schools in New Zealand. But like most high schools, the junior students enjoy it less as they are frequently put at the bottom of the food chain. So I really wanted to be in a position where I could bring them into the rich brotherhood earlier that Waitaki Boys’ is known for.

Q What is your proudest moment at Waitaki Boys’?
It would definitely be one of the formal assemblies in the Hall of Memories, with the organ and bagpipes playing in unison, and hymns sung passionately. Reminiscing of the sacrifices made in times passed creating a sense of awe, and honour, to be in such a beautiful place.

Q What extracurricular activities are you involved in?
Rugby and music.

Q Do you have any plans for when you leave school?
To go to Victoria University, study actuarial science and achieve with honours.