Our Club had the pleasure of hearing from four young people on 23 November, who we support in various ways - through Rotary Clubs Interact and Rotaract, as well as an individual sponsered to attend International Orienteering Competitions in July.
Hayley Burns reports.
First we heard from Rachel Baker, a student of Wellington Girls College, who is a keen Orienteerer. The Rotary Club of Port Nicholson supported Rachel to travel to Europe in July, to compete in the Junior World Orienteering Championships in Portugal, followed by the European Youth Orienteering Championships in Hungary. Rachel told us about the highs and lows of the races, the stunning scenery and sunsets, and her learnings from Orienteering that transfer to being valuable life lessons.
Rachel competed in a number of events in Europe and generally was pleased with her results, including coming 38th out of around 100 competitors in the under 16 women's race, 50th in the sprint, and fourth in the forest relay. She returned to school to receive a range of sporting awards, for her abilities and her representation of New Zealand on the International Stage.
The experience has only fuelled Rachel's passion for Orienteering, and she has goals to continue her training, in order to compete internationally again in future, and become one of New Zealand's finest female Orienteerers.
Following on from Rachel, we heard from Sumner and Francesca, the Wellington Interact Club's co-presidents.
They spoke to the club about the successes of the club, composed mainly of students from Wellington Girls College and Wellington Boys College, with occassional hangerers-onerers (friends) from other local schools. Over the past year, Interact have hosted movie nights raising money for Blue Drsgon, have been involved with projects supporting Refugees coming into New Zealand and have held other fundraising events like bake sales.
Sumner and Francesca appealed to the Club for increased support to help them be seen as a 'real' club, rather than 'just a bunch of school kids'. They asked that we show an increased support in going to their events, support with financial donations to their raffles and events, and show an increased presence at their fortnightly meetings.
The Wellington Interact Club was a finalist in this year's Wellington Airport Community Awards, recognising the work they do to support local and international groups in need. Congratulations!!
Finally, we heard from Nicole Cooke, the new Rotaract President. Rotaract are a small but dedicated group, challenged by the limits of their group size to mobilise for good causes. They suffered a significant loss of members following the outbreak of COVID and have struggled to regain and retain members, as the key age group is heavily involved in University studies or possibly entry level jobs in their chosen profession.
Rotaract recently has changed its consititution and now anyone aged 18+ can join, with no cap on the upper age limit. Rachel joked that our Club members could jump ship to Rotaract if they felt the urge!

Despite their challenges, Rotaract are getting out and making a difference, in a style they affectionately call "Social Volunteering". They get together, do a beach clean up, collecting rubbish, and have a coffee. Last year they held a very successful fundraiser quiz night on August 17th, the night New Zealand was alerted of another Level 4 lockdown. The thrill of the mexican wave of cell-based Civil Defense alerts punctuated the evening, but a fun and fruitful evening was had by all enjoying the final moments of freedom as New Zealand commenced its battle against the Delta variant.  Rotaract have some exciting ideas in the pipeline, so watch this space!
We look forward to our next installment of youth speakers next year. It is fantastic to see and hear our young people making a difference in our community and internationally.
We hope that in time, if they remain in Wellington, we will eventually be inducting them into RCPN!