Posted on 30th September 2016
On the 17th July St Wilfrid’s Catholic High School took 38 students on a 2 week tour of a lifetime playing sport an experiencing the culture of both Singapore and New Zealand. Two years of commitment from parents, pupils and staff alike resulted in £135,000 being fundraised to support the tour. A lifetime of memories were experienced by all involved, from the traditional Maori welcome in each and every school to the moving memorial in respect of the many lives lost during the 2011 earthquakes in Christchurch.
The trip started with a cultural visit to Singapore. Here the students faced 100% humidity while undertaking a sightseeing tour around this great city, before experiencing a unique night safari and a day at the infamous Universal studios prior to flying out to New Zealand. The tour began in earnest when we landed in Christchurch as we headed straight to ‘Adrenalin Forest’ for 3 hours of exhilarating high ropes, climbing and zip lines, before moving onto the city of Christchurch itself. Christchurch has only just begun the rebuilding process after the horrific earthquakes of 2011. The staff and students were touched by the remembrance art memorial representing the many lost lives from the tragedy. 185 individual white chairs representing each life lost comprised of baby seats, rocking chairs and stools amongst other to create a memorial that touched the hearts of all present.
During our stay in Christchurch we also had a thrilling white water rafting experience on the Waiau River at Hanmer Springs, followed by an afternoon relaxation at the thermal pools and spa. Upon leaving Christchurch we headed north to Picton where we then caught our ferry across the Cook Strait’s to Wellington. It was here that we played our first games of the tour against Naenae College and we were met with a traditional welcome by one of the leading ‘Kapa Haka’ teams in the country. This was a fantastic first welcome for us and something none of us will ever forget. Football and Netball fixtures we played against Naenae College with St Wilfrid’s football team victorious in their first match and the Netball narrowly losing to a strong side. The following day it was the turn of the Rugby team, who’s fixture against Randwick Kingfishers Rugby Club was a real war of attrition. After facing down the haka St Wilfrid’s took the game straight to the hosts from the very first tackle before taking the loss as the physical toll of the take took hold in the last 10 minutes of a match against significantly bigger opponents. The host repeat of the haka at the end of the game a sure fire demonstration of respect to the St Wilfrids visitors and the talent and fight on show throughout.
Huka Jet boat rides, Luge’s and a traditional Hangi, (food cooked underground in the traditional way) followed in Rotorua before we moved onto Tokoroa High School. For a school with significant financial struggles our New Zealand hosts could not do enough for us and after 3 more hard fought but successful matches an evening’s hospitality and entertainment was provided for all that will live long in the memory. That evening we had the blessing and privilege of spending the night in the school Marae.
From Tokoroa we made our trip north to Waihiki Island off the coast of Auckland where we met up with ex St Wilfrid’s PE Teacher Miss Rose with whom we had arranged billets for the students on the island. For 2 nights the students lived with their New Zealand families whilst competing against the school in all three sports. A hard fought draw against the football team was followed by a second narrow loss for the netball team before a second convincing win for the rugby team in what was the final match of the tour, with England running out 5 ½ – 3 ½ winners against our New Zealnd counterparts across the whole tour
All students came back safe and injury free and with memories and friendships that will truly last a lifetime.
I would like to thank all the parents and all the sponsors in particular, Fast Signs, Doosan, Ross Travel, Kingsley Child, K and G Transport, Legal and General, Premier Foods, Appleby Roofing and PE 4 Sport and all sponsors who helped support the tour in any way possible.
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The Bishop Konstant Catholic Academy Trust is an exempt charity regulated by the Secretary of State for Education. It is a company limited by guarantee registered in England and Wales, company number 8253770, whose registered office is at The Zucchi Suite, Nostell Business Estate, Nostell, Wakefield, WF4 1AB.