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Read on to find out more about the latest stories from our Collegians.

Interview and Stories from Scots Collegians

Scots Collegians all over the world and within our shores are involved in such a diversity of fields, interests and projects. Many have been in touch to share their story, please enjoy catching up with these below.

If you would like to share something you or a fellow Collegian are involved in please get in touch at

Theo Papouis [1997-2003]
Johnny Blades [1986-1992]
Grant Adams [1988-1994]
Phillip Davenport [1984-1991]
Moana Nuku [2004-2008]
Duke Pōmare [1998-2004]
John Vogel [2011-2015]
Sean Tholen [2008-2014]
Xin Ni [2016-2019]
Angus Simms [2005-2009] & partner Katie Jackson
Harvey Rees-Thomas [1948-1958], Head Prefect 1958
Philip Mcdougall – “Floogal” [1979-1985]
Joe Bell [2014-2016]
George Apostolakis [1980-1983]
Evarn Flaunty [1999-2006]
Lewis Clareburt [2008-2017]
Moala Katoa [2013-2017]
Locky Buchanan [2012-2016]
Richard Shirtcliffe [1984-1988]
Nathan Tse [2009-2013]
Dr Gavin Fincher MB.ChB (Otago) FACEM [1982-1984]
Prageeth (PJ) Jayathissa [2002-2006]
Ming Thein [1997-1999]
Hanan Laban [2000-2004]
Ezra Iupeli [1990-1994]
Joe Daymond [2009-2013]

Theo Papouis [1997-2003]

Theo Papouis

Often we are told to look at the bigger picture; focus on that which is of greatest importance.

However, the details and components that comprise this bigger picture should not be neglected.

Theo Papouis, owner and chef of Oikos, speaks to the advantage of honing in on the specifics and how he went from a deviant Scots College student to a thriving businessman.

Entering Theo’s restaurant, you see a décor of rustic and earthy tones, photos hanging along the walls, tables laid, friendly, welcoming smiles greeting you as you open the door. As the night begins – or as Theo describes it “the curtains open,” wine bottles are placed on the tables for the customers to pour freely, tables moved around, laughter encouraged – all contributing to the casual and boisterous environment found at Oikos.

Theo, having learnt a lot from his parents, did not enter the chef business without masses of knowledge. From a young age, Theo says “my parents always brought fresh, good food to the table no matter what.” His life is abundant with culinary experience, having travelled around the world, to Cyprus where he was the chef of the American Ambassador for four years, and the UK prior to that, where he worked at one of Jamie Oliver’s restaurants.

His father, also a chef, had advised Theo to “use your brain and not your hands.” but Theo knew his strengths were found in the hospitality business. At Scots College, Theo experimented with many extracurriculars, such as water polo and football. He recalls Mr Boyce, who was the Head of the Prep School at the time, was an involved and encouraging figure for Theo. He speaks fondly of his time, feeling fortunate to have attended Scots College – reminiscing in particular of the games of four square that he would play with his friends during lunchtimes.

Having so many factors to attend to as a business owner, Theo encourages anyone heading into entrepreneurship to refrain from having too many outside commitments, because you will have to work hard. Theo has come across many challenges, the pandemic being one. However his attention to what people crave left his customers itching to come back during lockdown – he went on to describe the semi-crusted feta with honey and thyme and slow roasted lamb as being two of his star dishes.

Without his focus on these multitude of details, he wouldn’t have created what he has today.

For that he feels grateful.

Words: Vaishalee Bhana

Johnny Blades [1986-1992]

Johnny Blades

While social norms can be a good basis upon which we form our decisions, often magic is found in the unexplored and the unconventional.

We recently met with Johnny Blades, a writer, journalist, and Scots Collegian, who shared generously, alongside his wife Siri, about his adventures in journalism.

Johnny says he has no great inspirational story to offer from his time at the school, but he’s grateful for the experience and the friendships made. Sport played a big role when he was at the school, and he enjoyed being part of the cricket 1st XI. A trip by his geography class around Malaysia is mentioned as a highlight, piquing his interest in other cultures. Increasingly his focus turned to books and music.

After obtaining a BA (Hons) in English Literature from Victoria University, Johnny went into journalism; he started writing about people who live with disability for Wellington’s fabled City Voice newspaper, and from there did forays in general news, sports, and arts in papers and magazines before a stint at TVNZ in its digital arm. He then found an area where he could take a deep dive when he joined Radio New Zealand International (which later morphed into RNZ Pacific) to cover the Pacific Islands region.

Learning about the Pacific and its great cultures has been a true calling for Johnny. Widely traveled in the islands, including to some of its most remote and troubled parts, he has produced many audio programmes and written extensively about the region. Through his coverage of Melanesia, especially Papua New Guinea, he has forged a body of work that includes writing for the Diplomat, the Guardian, AFP, Pacific Journalism Review, Monocle, the Lowy Institute and the Interpreter, as well as radio work with the BBC.

Johnny has helped shine a light on a region that for a long time has been a blindspot for international media, and he remains one of the few foreign journalists to ever get into West Papua, the Indonesian-ruled half of New Guinea (PNG being the other half) plagued by conflict for decades.

Working in Melanesia has frequently taken him outside his comfort zone, something he credits for fostering a broader perspective on things.

“I’ve always found it remarkable how well Pacific people cope with adversity. How they remain so warm and open to others despite daunting challenges. The way they value human relationships and connections with nature, the land and sea, has something to do with it. There’s much that Pacific ways of life can teach us.”

Presently Johnny works as a journalist covering Parliament, but continues to write about the Pacific. Looking back at his school days, he explains that it seemed like many people were gravitating towards the corporate world; however, he grew wary of the pressure to “fit in,” and found that what felt best was taking a path less traveled.

Seeing Johnny’s courage to explore and document the more unknown parts of the Pacific, we see the importance of staying curious and open to learning new things. “Follow your dreams and don’t be afraid to look into areas that are unconventional,” he says, adding that it’s better to find your own path than one which others set for you, and to take your time doing so, as things will happen in due course.

It would be remiss not to mention Johnny’s late mother, Pat Blades, who was the first female president of the Scots College Parents Association and a member of the College Board of Governors, then the first female trustee of the Scots Foundation. Pat was an integral member of Scots, committed towards the values of the College, and provided many years of service.

For Johnny, the most important job is being a father to his two daughters, Nina and Anna. Of parenting, he says there’s no guidebook, you just muddle your way through but do your best. “There’s a lot to be thankful for.”

Words: Vaishalee Bhana

Scots College 1990 5A 

Back row: M Smith, S G Hooper, H G B Bevan, M L M Jones, S Seagar, K R Larkin, J Gauldie
Middle row: A M Erwin, D A King, D J Gregg, C I Morrison, R Seddon, P G Beckett, R P Reed, K Wong
Front row: P D Salter, A R Sew Hoy, G J Fisher, J G Blades, P B K Chang, S D Rupasinghe, M R Naran

Grant Adams [1988-1994]

Grant Adams

“There seemed to be no limits. You weren’t limited to a track, or a train. You could walk anywhere you wanted.”

Grant Adams is talking about his passion: working as a steadicam operator. But he could just as well be talking about his life. Grant has worked as a trainee hairdresser, breathed life into the visions of cinema’s greatest living directors, and done almost everything else in between.

It all started at Scots College, which he attended from 1988 to 1994, though he didn’t know it at the time. “I was always interested in things that were less academic,” he joked. “I loved watching movies.” He filled his time with drama, singing in the choir and Barbershop Quartet, making DIY videos and short films, and developing a passion for the arts.

When it came time to leave, however, he didn’t know what to do. His friends were leaving for university; he knew that wasn’t for him. Somehow, he found himself working at a Cuba Street salon. It was fun and vibrant, full of big personalities and bigger hairdos.

But something else niggled at him. “A friend suggested that I try get a position in the film industry.” He decided to give it a shot: the idea of listening to people’s narratives and helping give life to them attracted him.

So, he pulled every string he could and wangled his way onto Hercules: The Legendary Journeys, a blockbuster television show being filmed in New Zealand (later overshadowed by its own spin-off: Xena: Warrior Princess). It was there that he first saw a steadicam operator in action.

“And while I was watching him, I was just in awe of it. It seemed like it was more than a discipline – it was a conviction.” He realised at that moment that he could “devote my energy to learning a craft like this – something which is just as valuable as going to university.”

Before steadicams were invented, directors had three choices. They could leave the camera fixed in place (boring), fix it onto a wheeled mount that rolled along mini train tracks (limiting), or have someone hold the camera directly (shaky). None were good.

Steadicams (formally, a camera stabiliser mount) changed the industry. The tool isolates a camera’s movement from that of the operator, enabling the camera to smoothly swoop around a set and capture key moments – the kind of camera movement that helps a viewer forget that they’re watching a movie at all.

Operating a steadicam, however, is exhausting. It is a kind of sci-fi exoskeleton, requiring operators to simultaneously compose a camera shot while managing a stabiliser and manoeuvring around an often complex location. Doing it well requires years of experience. Grant was willing to put in the work.

“The film industry, and the camera department specifically, is pretty hierarchical. I worked my way up.” He worked every role in the camera department, on every production he could score. And it worked.

After years of climbing the ladder, he now works as a full-time steadicam operator on the biggest films and television shows in the world: Mission: ImpossibleThe Unbearable Weight of Massive Talent, Lord of The Rings – The Rings of Power.

Mission: Impossible was, he says, “extreme,” in large part because of Tom Cruise. “He is one of the most driven, disciplined actors I’ve ever worked with. He must still think he’s in his 30s … He was quite inspiring.”

It was remarkable to work on a film with such an enormous budget, he recalls. He would arrive at Queenstown Airport each morning, ready to board the film’s fleet of fifteen helicopters to wherever the weather was best that day. It was a lot of pressure. “The bigger the budget, the higher the pressure to execute the shots in a technically perfect way: every minute on set might be worth thousands of dollars.” He thrived.

His most rewarding work, however, is with another Kiwi: Jane Campion. He’s now worked on three of her productions: Bright StarTop of the Lake, and The Power of the Dog. Each time, he’s come away astounded by the experience.

“I really admire her process. It’s one which is quite unique. There’s a real truth in the way she films things. She doesn’t like to manipulate the viewer too much,” he explains. “It’s more than just an honour, it’s been an education, to work in that way with her.”

It’s that process of constant learning, and the pursuit of constant excellence, which most appeals to him. “In the edit, they’ll always choose the best performance, regardless of whether the shot was perfect. You really have to figure out a way to do things so that they’re always of the best calibre.”

So next time you’re at the movies, focus: is the camera smooth? Is the shot perfect? If so, it might just be Grant’s work you’re watching. To see more of Grant’s work, interviews and photos check out his website here.

Words by Pete McKenzie, 2016 Head Prefect & Dux

Grant L Adams 1991

Grant Adams on the set of The Power of the Dog, Lindis River, credit Kirsty Cameron

Barbershop Quartet 1994 Grant L Adams, Bryan W Fox, Nick J T Barrett, Theo B Dorizac

Top image – Grant Adams, Brooklyn NY. Credit Clifton Prescod

Phillip Davenport [1984-1991]

Phillip Davenport

Passion and Action – Phillip Davenport and his Culinary Adventures

Phillip Davenport, a Scots Collegian, graciously opened his world to us, showing us what it means to be passionate and to walk the road less travelled. Gently reminding us that while having passion is wonderful, it is hard work and intrinsic motivation that propels you forward in life. The life of a culinary expert is one of resilience.

Phillip Davenport is a chef, business consultant, and host of TV series Toque 12 and Eating Inn. Phillip was a student at Scots College from 1984-1991. His exploration of the culinary world began when he landed in Sydney. Here, he worked in some of the most popular restaurants in the city, such as Hugo’s, on Bondi Beach. He travelled to London to open ‘Aura’ an exclusive private members’ club in Mayfair, to the Caribbean where he consulted on the set up of a new resort, and Bali where he led the team at high profile restaurants, such as KU DE TA which was one of the best beach front restaurants in the world and top 10 in Asia in 2009/10.

Phillip opened his own businesses, including “Duck in Duck out” with Manu Feildel, well known as a judge on My Kitchen Rules, and “Hanks Pizza and Liquor” in Bali, as well as a Chef Consultancy business.

While his love for the culinary arts is apparent, Phillip had explored many interests at Scots before dedicating his time to cooking. He mentions that he was not an academic student and initially tried focusing on design, obtaining skills in this field that he later used in his consultancy work. He learnt how to work and train hard in the sporting world, playing water polo for school, the Maranui Club, and representing New Zealand. He encountered a structure and strictness during his schooling years, which he found beneficial moving forward.

Following your passion isn’t without its challenges, however. After 30 years of cooking, Phillip was ready to end his career. It is relentless and a hard slog, he said, speaking to the nature of the restaurant business. There are a lot of mental health and wellness issues within this industry, a truth that inspired him to mentor his younger colleagues – something he didn’t have entering the industry. Phil is now moving into being a producer and host and is currently in pre-production for more culinary based TV series in Asia, India, and the USA.

As a mentor, Phillip shares practical advice with those that want to grow in this industry. Having travelled around the world with his career, Phillip has met a variety of people, from movie stars to taxi drivers, and he emphasises the importance of listening – "meet and listen to as many different & interesting people you can in life, you never know where it will take you."

"Find your calling, work hard, and get really good at it."

Take action with your passions.

Words: Vaishalee Bhana


Senior Waterpolo Team 1991
Back Row: C D Gorman, S B Perry, R K Bisley, K-W Hong, A W White, N G Moore
Front Row: Mr D G Clifford, J R H Tuckey, J F Yeo, P T Davenport, A P Jackson, D See, D J Gregg

Moana Nuku [2004-2008]

Matamoana Nuku

“You stand on the shoulders of your ancestors.”

Matamoana Nuku, a Scots Collegian, voices with honour.

Our culture is often embedded in our ancestral lines and as we discover how this integrates into our own identity, we inspire those around us to do the same. Moana describes his Tongan heritage as being a strong part of his identity, and with this, he continues to elevate cultural competency within our community – recently bringing his focus to Scots College and the Collegians.

Moana fondly remembers the friendship and connection he experienced when he attended Scots College from 2004 to 2008 – immersing himself in team sports and consequentially winning the Tremblay Cup. He was part of the 1st XV with his brother Tu’ipulotu, Senior A Volleyball, Athletics, and Dragonboating teams, whilst also singing in the choir. Moana, alongside his sporting and singing talents, has an artistic flair. He recalls Mr Salmon, his Art Design teacher, providing some respite for Moana by creating a relaxed atmosphere, a nice contrast to the pressure he felt from the world around him.

His time at Scots was followed by an exploration of Europe where he discovered the beauty of the buildings around him. Returning to New Zealand, inspired by this rich culture reflected in the buildings, his sights were set on architecture. Together with his team at Designgroup Stapleton Elliot, he is working towards increasing diversity in the built environment of our country.

As Moana continues to be an advocate of positive change, he recently joined the Collegians Executive in order to give back to the school. He is currently Chair of the Collegians, and his motivations are focused on inclusion, expression, and providing opportunities for others. Giving back to the school is something he feels intrinsically motivated to do; Tongans have a strong affinity with their school, Moana says, grinning as he explains that his father had the crest of his school tattooed on to his chest.

Moana acknowledges the magnitude of the steps required to create an equal space for everyone; however, with his leadership, gorgeous spirit, and integrity, he pushes forward with courage.

“There is big change to go and I’m excited to be a part of it.”

Words: Vaishalee Bhana


Chamber Choir 2008

Back Row: J. Jajjo; C. J. F; Macrae; T. S. Cleary; H. W. Hillind; M. E. Tredger
Front Row: S. M. Gleeson; G. S. G. Low; M. S. L. Nuku; S. J. Vose; B. T. C. Datson

Moana with John Carter being awarded the Tremblay Cup in 2008

Duke Pōmare [1998-2004]

Duke Pōmare

If there is one thing we’ve learnt from the last two years, it is that life is wildly unpredictable. This unpredictability sways us in directions we would not have fathomed, far from where we imagined we would be. For Duke Pōmare, his ability to embrace this unpredictability led him through a series of twists and turns, ultimately leading him to Scots College, where he imparts his wisdom.

Since he was five years old, Duke’s passions lay within the realm of cricket. His dedication to the sport shone throughout his time at Scots. Ian McKinnon, the headmaster at the time, accelerated Duke into the 1st XI, and he won the Edwards Bat three times in 2004. Duke strove to be a professional cricket player by the age of 22, and his skill and determination landed him a cricket scholarship to attend VUW. Leaving Scots, Duke experienced a significant change in the social environment, with an alluring party atmosphere, where Duke explained that he lost the scholarship after having “wasted” it.

Now flooded with uncertainty of where to go in life, Duke set out upon a trek of trial. He worked in retail for a few years and became an assistant retail manager. He then enrolled into a biomed course studying towards a degree in medicine, ultimately recognising it was not the course for him. Flowing into a science degree led him to working with NZ Pharmaceuticals and Taylor Preston, then lastly as a contractor for a few years. After experiencing a range of careers, Duke decided to take a step back to discover his true values and interests. Which landed him in education.

Ian McKinnon had been an important player throughout Duke’s family’s education, and so it was to him that Duke reached out for guidance. Ian explained that being a good teacher required the three E’s: Energy, Enthusiasm, and Empathy, and explained the importance of having a connection with students.

Returning to Scots as a science teacher, Duke continues to play Premier cricket for VUW, and coaches cricket at Scots. As a Collegian, he is able to share his experiences in the 1st XI, which has helped him make the connection with his students that Ian McKinnon deems of high importance.

Alongside his passion for cricket and education, Duke expresses his pride towards his Māori whakapapa. He can trace his ancestry back to his great, great, great, great grandmother Kahe Te Rau-o-te-rangi of Ngāti Toa who swam from Kāpiti to the mainland with her baby daughter on her back to warn Ngāti Toa of an incoming attack by a war party. His great grandfather, Sir Maui Pōmare was the first Māori doctor and the eighth Minister of Health.

Duke’s story shines light upon the life trajectory that many of us face, one filled with exploration, trial and uncertainty, whilst showing us the importance of embracing it all, regardless of where it may take you.

Words: Vaishalee Bhana


Scots College 1st XI Cricket 2004
Back row: AS Riper [A Bannatyne CE Pritchard DM Candy
Middle row: Mr PBidwell VJO Ropati MJ Carter JMA Woolcott VVJ Vito DW T Hutchens Mr C Luman
Front row: CD Carter DA Pomare CM Oldham (Captain) SP Donovan AS Rutledge

John Vogel [2011-2015]

John Vogel

In the current climate, viewing our lives with gratitude adds to our wellbeing. We recently sat down with John Vogel, who, reflecting on his time at Scots, demonstrated this appreciation towards his life and education. Now teaching humanities to the Middle School, he wants to cultivate this gratitude and the appreciation he had for his schooling with his current students.

John thrived at Scots, he was a hardworking student, a debater and a prefect. As a true all-rounder, John was also a spectacular tennis player, his team winning the National Secondary Schools’ Tennis Championship. Following his education at Scots, he spent time at Otago University, studying English and history, and then returned to Wellington to study teaching at Victoria.

John promotes gratitude throughout the school and models with an appreciative demeanour, speaking highly of his team in the humanities department and praising Hannah Clarke and Stephen Lawrenson. He acknowledges the high calibre of the staff, expressing the beauty of being able to learn from the best; he can then take his learnt skills from Scots to schools that are not as well-equipped. John hopes that through humanities, he can instill a sense of understanding of the world in the students by getting them to see it through different perspectives.

With this understanding of the world, he emphasised the importance of the focus on wellbeing at Scots. The Director of Wellbeing, Amy Joe, is great at creating a positive culture and advocating for self-care. John was pleasantly surprised to see that the younger students are open to communicating their emotions and feelings, which is crucial in building towards healthy emotional intelligence from a young age. Amy is encouraging students and staff to recognise when things are not going so well, to gain an awareness of their own mental health.

Something John has realised in retrospect, when considering his own wellbeing at Scots, is the importance of the relationship that exists between the students, House Deans, and tutors. This relationship can extend beyond college; he knows many Collegians who still have a close relationship with their tutors and deans.

As the youth of today navigate the twists and turns of the current world, it is great to see our Collegians return to Scots to provide their expertise, wisdom, and guidance.

Words: Vaishalee Bhana


National Secondary School winners: Finley Hall, Josh Snowden-Poole, John Vogel, Felix Humphries

Sean Tholen [2008-2014]

Sean Tholen

Our lives are fuelled by change. Changes in our world views, careers, social circles, our identity, and our expression of who we are. For youth, as they navigate the changes in their identity, social norms can interfere with their desire to openly express themselves. The importance of having guidance from someone who encourages this expression is of high value. Enter Sean Tholen, who is endearingly referred to as Kaiako by their students and who, alongside their teaching, is striving to show students how they can live to their fullest potential. Sean is non-binary and uses they/them pronouns.

While at Scots, Sean was a prefect, a rower, and a member of the 1st XV rugby team that won the National title for the first time alongside Hamilton BHS, an historic moment for Scots.

Following their life beyond Scots, Sean’s experience cultivated an abundance of skill and integrity that they bring to their teaching here at Scots. Sean was accepted to complete a masters degree with Ako Mātātupu, Teach First NZ. Here, the students are sponsored to study while teaching full time at a low decile school. For two years Sean taught at Tangaroa College in Auckland, which shed light upon the difficulties that some families face.

Following this experience, Sean went on to teach at a trailblazing Te Ao
Māori school in Hamilton, specialising in physics and science, where they developed their understanding and use of Te Reo Māori. Sean highlights the time they made solar panels after studying the sun and the application of nature’s teachings to the field of biomimicry.

Positive role models are integral within the schooling environment for the healthy development of student’s wellbeing. Sean’s reflection of their schooling identified that they would like to be the role model they didn’t have – one that openly expressed their alliance towards the LGBTQ+ community. During their time at Scots, Sean describes that it was tough, and "it was a place that you either conform to being a man or drown." However, Sean was encouraged by Giles Moiser, instilling within them the knowledge that they are clever and capable. Sue Esterman, the librarian, also provided a safe space for Sean to escape the often toxic environment of the "boys club," for which they are grateful.

Being a Collegian of Scots, Sean is able to see the school from both a staff and student perspective. Having spent seven years roaming the grounds of Scots, Sean knows the school back to front, and never gets lost. It is only feasible that Sean will help others find their way too.

Words: Vaishalee Bhana


Rugby 1st XV, 2014
Back Row: Samuel Craig; Ellery Waterson; Peter Umaga-Jensen; Hamish Scott-Wood; Jarimar Schuster; Henry Mexted; Thomas Umaga-Jensen; Harry Saker; Sean Tholen
Middle Row: Joe Boswell; Lotonu’u Haueia; Phillip Leaupepe-T Nickel; Hugo Humphries; Matthew Sisson; Connor Garden-Bachop; Alec Cannons; Elliott Morrison; Oliver McMahon
Front Row: Mr M. White (Manager); Mr M. King (Assistant Manager); Alex Fidow; Malo Tuitama; Michael Findlay; TJ Va’a; Patrick Fenika; Joseph Whitmore; Mr E. Va’a (Coach); Mr G. Hall (Assistant Coach)

Xin Ni [2016-2019]

Xin Ni

Challenges and Triumphs

“Scots provided me with the opportunity to explore my possibilities. From a shy kid who barely spoke English, to the Head of International, and now the top student in university. My experiences at Scots have allowed me to always excel in any challenges.”

Discomfort is usually undesirable. Challenges faced in our schooling environment, personal, and professional life force us to make decisions to overcome these obstacles. However, Scots Collegian Xin Ni has experienced the benefits of leaning in towards challenge.

Xin is currently studying a Bachelor of Science (Hons) in Management (Accounting and Finance) at the University of Manchester, England. Having excelled in many areas of his life thus far, he received a Social Responsibility Scholarship from the university. Through his dedication and hard work, he has been ranked first in his university programme and is a student representative and ambassador at the University for which he writes a blog.

During his time at Scots, Xin undertook the International Baccalaureate programme – which he described as being a lot to juggle and a source of great stress. At the time, he regretted his decision. However, his determination to push through the challenge paid off. Jason Laverock reassured Xin by saying that sitting his A Levels was harder than finishing his degree. Xin now looks back and realises this experience set him up at university and nothing seems too difficult now.

Arriving in New Zealand with a knowledge of English, but with limited opportunity to speak – he found the kiwi accents difficult to understand. Terrified and aware of the eyes upon him, Xin was forced to communicate. He introduced himself to Geoff Hall, the head of boarding with his given name (rather than an Anglo-Saxon one), which he says provided an opportunity for both parties to learn. One of the highlights of Xin’s time at Scots was when he was chosen as international prefect, a role that there was plenty of competition for. He inspired many at Scots and he still receives calls from parents, students, and staff.

Xin is planning to work towards his masters, which he knows will be a challenge. Through his internship at Price Waterhouse, he hopes to have an opportunity to transfer overseas, perhaps even back to New Zealand. He spoke of his fondness for New Zealand, remembering the blue skies, lack of pollution, and the relaxed, happy and smiling people.

Thank you, Xin, for showing us what it means to recognise something as a challenge, experiencing the discomfort, and pushing through to achieve the results we desire.

Angus Simms [2005-2009] & partner Katie Jackson

Angus Simms Katie Jackson Wonky Box

In a world where everyone is aiming for perfection, Scots Collegian Angus Simms and his partner Katie Jackson are embracing the imperfect with their new Wonky Box fruit and vegetable delivery venture. Their career paths, which have led to this moment, are a little bit wonky too.

Angus’ family moved a lot for his father’s work when he was younger, spending time in the UK and NZ, although Angus was settled in Wellington for his high school (Scots College) and tertiary (Victoria University) education.

Angus doesn’t think he really appreciated his time at Scots, but on reflection, he does now and enjoys keeping up with the friends he met there. He was in the 1st XV rugby and dragon boating squads and loved biology, particularly with Mr Lars Bock.

Angus says, “Looking back at my decision to study a BCom in International Business, I think I should have followed what I loved rather than taking the advice of the adults around me, telling me to focus on future job opportunities and money.”

However, after graduating, he left NZ to take up such a job opportunity and roles with big corporates in Melbourne, and London followed. Angus admits that he didn’t enjoy the corporate world. He took eight months out travelling around Europe and Asia and loved it. Returning to London with a new focus, he soon joined a smaller start-up company called Market Invoice, a cash flow finance company that worked with start-ups.

It was there that he spoke to entrepreneurs who were smart, like-minded people. They had a desirable product that people wanted to buy and he was able to look at the industries that were taking off and their operations/systems.

During this time, Angus met Katie Jackson, a mental health nurse working in the ED. Not an easy role, which was made harder when Covid-19 hit the UK last year, and they decided it was time to return to this side of the world.

The embryo for the idea of Wonky Box was started while they worked on a farm in the South Island and saw how much produce was wasted because it was not perfect, and not deemed acceptable by the supermarket chains.

Having seen similar initiatives overseas, they came up with the idea of sourcing imperfect product and supplying people in their homes. They contacted growers, but initially found it very difficult to glean information about waste.

Finally, it was a serendipitous conversation with a woman running a small produce stall on the side of the road. They mentioned their idea and someone in the line overheard and thought it was great. Angus and Katie have been working flat-out ever since. The business continues to grow through word of mouth for both growers and customers.

And Angus and Katie have high aspirations – they want their brand to be associated with sustainability and affordability and are aiming for zero carbon emissions, and of course, zero waste. Any surplus stock goes to Everybody Eats and the City Mission, and they would like to branch out into juices and vegetable stocks, etc. But for now, Katie says, “We decided to focus on Wellington to start with, and feel that if we can make it work here, we can take it to other parts of the country.”

These two entrepreneurs may be embracing the wonky, but they have certainly got their heads on straight.

Angus Simms Wonky Box

Harvey Rees-Thomas [1948-1958], Head Prefect 1958

Harvey Rees-Thomas

Harvey Rees-Thomas is a renowned educator and attributes a significant part of his personal development and his subsequent outstanding career as a principal and consultant on the education he received at Scots College.

Harvey has extremely fond memories of his time at Scots. In fact, he can’t recall spending a single sad day there. However, this may be due to his natural disposition as he finds joy in all aspects of life.

Harvey speaks passionately about the influences and influencers of Scots on his later life. He was especially inspired by then headmaster Colonel Keith Glasgow’s leadership, strong commitment to Scots and the boys, and his humility as the captain of a seriously under-funded enterprise.

By his own admission, Harvey was academically lazy at school. His peers managed to squeak through School Certificate, but he wasn’t quite so lucky and failed, which infuriated his father. Teacher Kay (Charlie) Wadham arranged for Harvey to sit a three-hour exam every Saturday before rugby week after week. Wadham made him turn up at 8:30am in full uniform and always had the paper marked by Monday morning. It was this concerted effort which gained Harvey a pass. He also credits Wadham with encouraging his public speaking ability.

“During my career, I’ve often silently blessed Charlie as he taught me to project my voice and would stand at one end of the College garden, while I’d be at the other reciting my speech.”

Harvey remembers mathematics teacher Hugh Reed taking him under his wing and encouraging him to get involved in music and drama, which he still loves and has had great pleasure running many youth choirs since. He thought Ian Logan was an excellent rugby coach, as even though they weren’t the top team, he gave them time and trained them properly.

Harvey was also grateful to the school for sponsoring his attendance at many Cadet Camps and says he was so proud to be a Scots boy when the camp reports were read out and he’d done well.

Harvey says that although his family instilled certain principles and values in him, it was the teachers at Scots from whom he modelled his style of operation, and his continuing encouragement of young people – to listen to them and trust them – is something that has flowed directly from his own experience at Scots.

Harvey went on to have an interesting and varied career in business and education, including 16 years as Headmaster of Wellington College. He later joined Ernst & Young as Director of Human Resources, taking leave three times to lead schools during periods of change. Harvey researched and wrote a book about The Street City Church, a church close to his heart; he was the founding chairman of Ronald McDonald House as well as chairing a group of investment companies based in Auckland.

Philip Mcdougall – “Floogal” [1979-1985]

Philip Mcdougall Floogal

Philip appreciates the irony of working alongside the world’s leading computer technologists at Google, as mathematics and the sciences were compulsory subjects he says he barely fluked a pass mark in when at Scots.

The late Ann Symonds, Philip’s Year 7 teacher, understood his academic leanings early on and offered inspiration: “If playing with words and pictures is what makes you most happy, then work hard at that. Every single day. Stay true to you and who knows where that might take you,” she said.

Now a creative director at Google’s USA headquarters, Philip counts himself “so super lucky” to have been allowed to keep ‘playing’ pretty much every day of his ‘working’ life as part of global brand agencies, building campaigns for the likes of Sony, adidas, BMW, and L’Oreal; and more locally when in advertising and marketing roles at Telecom (Spark), BNZ, Westpac, and Tower.

“The ‘work and play’ focus was definitely instilled in me early on at Scots,” says Philip.

Outside the classroom, he jumped into rugby (including 1st XV water boy duties), cross-country running, cricket, drama, and the pipe band (playing alongside Dr Ashley Bloomfield and Chris Faiumu, aka “DJ Fitchie” from Fat Freddy’s Drop).

That said, Philip concedes he might’ve taken the work (hard) mantra a little too literally at times. “After graduating Victoria University in Arts, I was focused on climbing the corporate ladder as fast as I could. It was work, work, work, work,” he says. “For two years, I flew between New Zealand and Australia every week. It always felt like time was running out for me to get where I thought I needed to be. And then one day, life itself felt like it was running out.”

Because out of nowhere, Philip was diagnosed with cancer.

“I was used to taking agency briefs. I told myself this illness was just another brief I needed to answer,” says Philip. “But talking with my three young children about why Daddy was in hospital, why he had no hair, and why he was covered in tubes is without question the hardest pitch I’ve ever been in.”

As part of Philip’s treatment, a friend suggested meditation. “I just couldn’t make it work for me though,” says Philip. “By chance, I found my own form of meditation. A simple piece of paper. Some colored pens. Some words. Some scribbles. I literally drew strength from drawing all over again.”

A decade on, and in remission, Philip continues to double down on “words and pictures.” It’s a major part of his creative professional life.

Those guiding words from Ann Symonds are still top of mind every day, too.

Back on campus for the recent Scots Collegians Centenary, Philip revisited the exact location in the primary school where they had their conversation in late 1979.

“I really wish I was able to leave her a little scribbled note, to let her know how much her advice has meant to me and that things did kinda work out okay,” says Philip.

Philip (in check pants) directing a TV commercial for Google in Los Angeles

The “First XV Waterboy” in 1985

Philip’s doodles, writing

Joe Bell [2014-2016]

Joe Bell Oly Whites

The New Zealand Oly Whites made history on the 28 July 2021. With their 0-0 draw to Romania, they had qualified for the Olympic quarterfinals: the first time our men’s Olympic football team had done so.

Joe Bell only realised the significance of that once the team got off the pitch and the first lines of Dave Dobbyn’s Slice of Heaven began to echo through the team’s locker room. “There’s certain New Zealand songs that we listen to in New Zealand national team games,” said Joe. “They’re such fond memories. Those are the kinds of moments you remember forever.”

Joe’s journey to the Tokyo 2020 Olympics (held in 2021 due to Covid-19) started in Christchurch, when, as a child, he started playing for a small football club. His English family loved football and Joe had grown up adoring football star David Beckham. But he didn’t realise that the game would consume his life. “I don’t think any six or seven year old kid is like: ‘This is the moment I’m going to play football.’ I think I tried rugby as well, but realised I’m probably not physically suited for it!”

Nevertheless, Joe began to understand this was something he was good at. His talents took him to the Wellington Phoenix Academy, Scots College (2014-2016), and the University of Virginia. While studying in America, Joe captained the New Zealand Under-20 football team at the U-20 FIFA World Cup in Poland. “We played Norway, in the group stage, and beat them 2-0. And that’s how the football world works – the coaches were obviously watching the Norwegian boys, and noticed me!” Joe went professional and signed with Viking football team in Stavanger, Norway – where he plays to this day.

He laughs that, “If you went straight through the Earth [from New Zealand], you’d hit Norway. I couldn’t be further from home.” The workload was also dramatically different, with all his time spent either training or recovering – a regimen which prepared him well for this year’s Olympics. It also helped that he already knew many of the guys he would be playing with. “It’s always special being with the New Zealand boys. They’re boys I’ve played with growing up and for many years.”

The national men’s team focused on “playing with mana,” said Joe. “When you experience that and see it first hand, you really realise how special New Zealanders are. It makes you proud to put on the shirt – you’re the one playing, but you’re representing everyone back home.”

After the team’s history-making group stage, they were defeated in the quarterfinals by Olympic hosts Japan. But that’s not the end of Joe’s Olympic dreams. “At the Olympics, we talked about making history. We did that. But there’s much more history that I want to create and write, and hopefully I can do that as part of a great group of boys – many of whom were playing at this Olympics with me.”

Joe Bell Toyko Olympics

George Apostolakis [1980-1983]

George Apostolakis

George raves about Scots College. He loved his time there and says the only reason he didn’t stay for high school was because he was sports’ mad and the College wasn’t as strong in that area then as it is now.

For the first few years of his school life, George cried nearly every day and would often run away. His family spoke only Greek at home and he struggled to understand his teachers and fellow students. Just when he was making headway, he spent the better part of two years in and out of hospital having treatment for his hip that required steel plates and screws. That set his education back even further, and his parents made the decision to send him to Scots.

George says he received so much support and encouragement at Scots, that he caught up with his peers and was up and running in no time. In fact, it was soon his peers who were literally running to catch up with him. Despite the issues with his hip, he was a cross country runner, played cricket, rugby, soccer, tennis, and table tennis, was a NZ age group swimming champion, and represented NZ at Water Polo.

He made many friends at Scots and they meet up as a group as often as their busy lives allow.

George’s parents owned various well-known Wellington venues of their time, such as the Savoy Coffee Lounge on The Terrace and the Oriental Tea Rooms. It was there that George and his brother Staphy (also a Collegian [1975-1983]) earned their stripes in hospitality. So much so that, aged 15 and 18 respectively, they opened and successfully ran their own sandwich bar ‘Jazz.’

This was the start of George’s food journey, and since then, he has run numerous successful cafes, and built up an impressive property portfolio too, buying his first rental property aged 21. However, his adult life has not been without its challenges and he lost everything in 2011 when a joint venture turned sour. At the same time, his marriage to his wife Penny ended, and his two boys Petrie and Marcos needed more of his time.

Ten years later, and George’s life is trucking along merrily. George’s partner Sophie Kasyolids, having lived in Santorini, Greece, loved the souvlaki street food there, and persuaded George that it would be a success here too. She was right, and they now run two Greek Food Trucks and a permanent pod at Moore Wilsons. George’s eldest son Petrie runs the second truck and has recently made George a very proud grandfather. Petrie’s daughter turns one this week and George and Sophie take delight in looking after her. George says he wasn’t able to send his sons to Scots but now that it’s co-ed perhaps his granddaughter will go.

1980 Soccer team, George is far left in the front row

Evarn Flaunty [1999-2006]

Evarn Flaunty Double Vision Brewery

Evarn Flaunty’s early school years weren’t much fun. He is dyslexic and struggled with English and Mathematics but didn’t want to ask for help as he felt that he would be singled out as stupid. As a result, everything he has achieved has been due to his resilience and determination to succeed. Evarn says, “If two people with the same qualifications apply to me for a job, I’ll always take the one with dyslexia – they’ve had to overcome so much.”

He was drawn to the practical subjects at school, and Wordwork and Graphic Design were among his favourites. Evarn was a strong swimmer and credits teacher Tremayne Cornish for suggesting that he try water polo. He did, and enjoyed it so much he subsequently represented NZ from the Under 15s through to Senior Men’s competitions.

Evarn says, “The amount of time needed for training and competing just about took over my life during that period.”

On completion of his Bachelor of Industrial Design at Massey University, Evarn accepted an internship with a Dutch company, where he worked on projects ranging from medical equipment through to bicycles.

Returning to NZ in 2013, Evarn took a job with Phil and Teds, designing baby gear such as buggies and port-a-cots. This was where Evarn met his partner, Textile Designer Jane Hills, with whom he has toddler Lottie, and it introduced him to colleagues and future brew-buddies Mario Lanz, Warren Drahota, and Harry Henrikson. (Scots Collegian Richard Shirtcliffe was also there and is now involved with DVB too.)

It was during a post-work, wind-down drink in 2015 that the four friends had their eureka (brew-eka!) moment. They enjoyed working together but thought they’d done their dash in design and PR. They were brainstorming ideas over a pint when "why don’t we brew our own beer?" gathered momentum, and Double Vision Brewery (DVB) was born.

They bought some homebrewing kit and spent every weekend and half their pay making some terrible beer, but also some awesome beer that they thought was good enough to sell. This gave them the confidence to make their first contract brew at the ‘Initiation Brewery’ at Massey University. They made 200 litres in 8 hours, and sold out really quickly. Fast forward to 2021, and they are expanding their own brewery and bar in Miramar, have 13 staff, and produce 2,500 litres every 4 hours.

Evarn credits their success as being due to the support from local businesses and craft beer producers who are all supportive of each other. DVB like to support their community in return, offering their ‘Brew for Good’ beer, where $2 from each sale goes to a specified charity. But DVB’s success isn’t really just about support. It’s about teamwork and the resilience and determination of a not very good speller. When asked about any advice for today’s students at Scots, Evarn responds, “Don’t be scared to jump in the deep end, you’ll find your way out”.

Lewis Clareburt [2008-2017]

Lewis Clareburt measures his life in seconds. The 21-year old spends practically every moment in Wellington’s Freyburg Pool. His goal: cut a few more seconds off of his Personal Best and win Aotearoa a medal at the rescheduled Tokyo Olympics.

He seems well positioned to do so. “I’ve been swimming my whole life,” he laughs. “Apparently my mum threw me in the pool at three years old for lessons, and from there I built my way up through the ranks.” That career has culminated, so far, in two bronze medals on the world stage for the 400 metre medley (a combination of backstroke, breaststroke, butterfly and freestyle), once at the 2018 Gold Coast Commonwealth Games and then again in the 2019 South Korea World Championships. His current PB – 4 minutes and 9 seconds – is just three seconds shy of Kosuke Hagino’s gold-winning performance at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

But Clareburt isn’t feeling complacent. When I ask where he thinks he ranks internationally, his answer is quick and confident: “Sixth.” When I ask what he would have to do this year in order to achieve what he wants, his answer is similarly swift: “Cut nine seconds.” It’s a staggeringly ambitious goal: it has taken Clareburt the last five years to cut his PB by a similar amount. If he accomplished it this year, he would take Michael Phelps’ place as the world record holder.

If anyone can do it, Clareburt can. To eliminate those seconds, and jump the five swimmers ahead of him, he and his coach Gary Hollywood are treating his body like a finely-tuned machine. “You’re working with the smallest of margins, focusing on making every little thing better.”

He’s currently focused on his turns. “My backstroke to breaststroke turn needs to be under one second, from the time I touch the wall to the time I push off the wall. That’s the same with breaststroke to freestyle, and breaststroke to freestyle.” At the same time as speeding up his turns, he also needs to make them more powerful. Previously he’s gone one to two metres off the wall after a turn; now, he’s aiming to go up to ten to fifteen metres at a time. “It’s possibly one of my most difficult challenges of the past few years.” He seems excited about it.

That competitive spirit is unmissable when one talks to Clareburt. And it’s one which he partially credits to his time at Scots College – a school without a pool or even a particularly good swimming team. But he remembers how the then-principal Peter Cassie would insist on hauling in front of the school assembly any student who had performed particularly well at something.

“It would motivate you to be better. To have those little successes along the way so you could be celebrated for it a bit.” He chuckles. “The New Zealand culture is to not be a tall poppy. But at Scots, that was different. They celebrated your successes and wanted you to be the best you could be.” And as Clareburt counts down the days and seconds until he gets in the pool in Tokyo, ‘the best he can be’ seems limitless.

Words by Pete McKenzie [2012-2016]

Moala Katoa [2013-2017]

Scots College graduate finds community support at Otago University

Scots College graduate Moala Katoa never spent much time away from home before beginning his tertiary studies, but in order to achieve his goal of becoming a doctor and making a difference in the lives of Pacific peoples, he says the distance is worth it.

The 18-year-old, who grew up in Newtown and is of Tongan heritage, says growing up seeing the health problems experienced by his community is what motivated him to pursue medicine at the University of Otago and contribute to the health sector in New Zealand.

Receiving scholarships under the Pacific Orientation Programme at Otago (POPO) has enabled him to embark on that mission with a highly supported foundation year at Otago.

The POPO Foundation Scholarship programme supports Pacific students through a Foundation Year in Dunedin, preparing them for further study in Otago’s Health Science First Year (HSFY) course while guaranteeing accommodation in a residential college, and financial assistance for their tuition fees and accommodation costs. HSFY is a prerequisite for those going on to study Dentistry, Medical Laboratory Science, Medicine, Pharmacy, or Physiotherapy at Otago.

Moala also received a University of Otago Māori and Pacific Peoples’ Entrance Scholarship, which he plans to put toward future study after completing his foundation year.

Arriving in Dunedin for the first time earlier this year, he admits the first few weeks were difficult. Thankfully, Moala has had plenty of support from Studholme College – the residential college he’s staying at during his time at Otago.

Studholme College is one of 15 residential colleges on or near Otago’s Dunedin campus. Each offers support and care in its own unique style.

“It’s a really homely place and is not as noisy as some of the other colleges. They’re really strict at exam time, which is good.”

Grateful for the financial support the POPO Foundation Scholarship programme offers him, he is also quick to praise the cultural and community support he is receiving through the programme.

“The co-ordinator is really awesome. She’s really grown close to us, and us to her. If it wasn’t for her support, it would have been a lot harder for us.”

Being in a cohort with other Pacific students allows him to maintain his connection with his Tongan cultural identity and he says he is “grateful to be able to speak my culture.”

Since it began in 2012, the POPO Foundation Scholarship Programme has supported over 70 students to work towards their goal of having a career in health, according to Programme Co-ordinator Kala Fagasoaia.

“Moala has grabbed this scholarship opportunity with both hands and has been an incredible representative of his community here at Otago. He is such an important part of the POPO Foundation Programme family. I really appreciate his leadership within the group and his commitment to academic success. I’m excited to cheer him on through the rest of his journey at Otago,” says Ms Fagasoaia.

Even with several months of university experience behind him, Moala is still “incredibly grateful” for the opportunity his scholarships have given him: “I don’t come from a wealthy family. I’m always looking to improve. If I can do it, you can do it. It’s a blessing.”

Learn more about Otago University Entrance Scholarships.

Locky Buchanan [2012-2016]

Locky Buchanan

As a senior student at Scots (2012-2016), Locky Buchanan could usually be found in one of the music rooms in the Creative and Performing Arts Centre with Isaac Hooper, rocking out on the electric guitar.

Locky still remembers those sessions as among his favourite memories of Scots: the perfect way to zone out of the challenges of school and teenagehood. So when he graduated from Scots and moved to Auckland for university, he was quick to look around for a similar way to express himself. But for the first few years, he struggled to find anything concrete. “I’d been doing a few things up until [2019], but nothing with any real intent or purpose.”

Eventually he’d had enough. “Feeling that frustration of not being in a band, I just searched up ‘NZ bands’ and found a pretty shoddy-looking website on Google. It was a bit like Reddit, and listed a whole bunch of people putting their ads out to do musical things. Honestly, about 80% of it were things like ‘70-year old Blues keys player looking for a saxophonist’. I thought, ‘Man, this is a bit hopeless’.”

He eventually stumbled across Layla. A 20-year old with a soulful voice, she was starting an indie band: exactly what Locky was looking for. Layla had already been playing alongside Southern – a perpetually beanie-clad guitarist who had written a few songs already. After a few tentative sessions, they decided to play together.

They went to their first open mic night at a now-defunct Auckland bar called the Backbeat. But to play, they needed a name – something they didn’t yet have. “Any creative will tell you that the hardest thing is to put a name on the thing you create,” Locky laughs. “I looked at Layla, and said give me a first person name. She said ‘John’. I looked at my bass player and asked for an object, and he said ‘Comb’. We’ve since dropped the ‘John’ part, but that’s how the name came about.”

This summer, The Comb played at two of New Zealand’s largest festivals: Rhythm and Vines in Gisborne, and Soundsplash in Layla’s native Raglan. “It was scary man,” he says of Rhythm and Vines. It’s “such a popular festival. Something like 30,000 people end up there each year. The step up from smaller shows to that stage – it was a learning experience.”

But he knew, as he jammed out on the stage in front of thousands of cheering people, that this was what he wanted to do. “It was at that point of us existing as a band that we realised, this is where we want to end up in terms of competency and creativity and presence.”

So watch the stage at your next music festival for a shaggy-looking man with shoulder-length locks, a guitar in hand, and groovy tunes to play. It’ll likely be Locky, with The Comb in tow, ready to rock through the next level of the New Zealand music scene.

Listen on Spotify here.

Words by Pete McKenzie [2012-2016]

Locky Buchanan The Comb

Richard Shirtcliffe [1984-1988]

Richard Shirtcliffe

From merino to baby buggies; GPS to beer; and now coffee to chairs. Nobody could describe Richard Shirtcliffe’s career as linear. On leaving Scots College, he studied Law and History, but stepped away from that when he realised very early on that he didn’t actually want to be a lawyer.

However, he found out that what he did want to do was tell stories and that has been the connecting fibre that joins all his roles of the past 30 years.

Richard has relished building New Zealand stories and taking those stories to the world. He says that all of the start-up companies with which he’s been involved have been fast moving, high growth businesses with high design integrity, providing a lot of scope for brand development and the increasingly important role of storytelling. For value-based organisations, the storytelling goes beyond the end-sale transaction and encourages customers, employees, and communities to go on the journey with them.

In fact, Richard’s latest role with is all about the story. He and his wife Sarah love being in the sea and during a family trip to Indonesia, they introduced their three young children to surfing. Unfortunately, it wasn’t only the children that the waves were rolling on to shore, but also plastic. And lots of it. Richard and Sarah decided with something akin to an epiphany that they wanted to do something that addressed the ever-growing global problem of waste.

An abridged version of the story is that he joined forces with the world renowned designers at Formway to create a new direct to consumer furniture business – – the first product from which is the noho move chair. It is a revolutionary ergonomic chair for the home, made from reclaimed and up-cycled fishing nets, often abandoned at sea, and end of use carpets. Polymers from these products can be recycled over and over again. The decision to have all the design and manufacturing undertaken in New Zealand was to take advantage of the design talent and, principally, renewable energy available here. It allows the business to get closer to the 100% sustainable model that noho is aspiring towards. However, in order to share the story and market the brand and chair to the world’s biggest e-commerce market, Richard and his family have moved to Boulder, Colorado in the US.

The move is an exciting adventure for them, although Richard confirms that New Zealand is most definitely home. It’s where his parents and brothers are and it’s where he wants to return to eventually. Until then, the family are enjoying their new environment, where they love their new neighbours’ and colleagues’ praise for New Zealand’s response to the Covid-19 pandemic. But Richard points out that a US education is very different from that in New Zealand – the US system seems very linear and based on the STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) subjects, whereas he thinks New Zealanders are encouraged to be creative thinkers. Richard is certainly a testament to that.

The Noho ChairThe Noho Chair

Texture – The Noho Chair Up Close

Sustainable – Made from Reclaimed and Up-Cycled Fishing Nets

Nathan Tse [2009-2013]

Nathan Tse

Nathan Tse has just one piece of advice for current Scots students – work hard and you’ll get opportunities, and he knows what he’s talking about. Nathan’s work ethic is exceptional and although only 25, he already has an impressive list of achievements to his name.

However, in his quiet and self-deprecating way, Nathan insists his sister Cassandra is the smart one in the family. She was Dux at St Marks School, excelled at English and Classics, and is an actor and award-winning playwright.

“She’s naturally smarter. I thought that I had to work much harder to achieve results, just like I’m not a naturally talented runner but put hard work in to get results.”

His father, Chris, his uncles, and their cousins are all Scots College Alumni – there had been a Tse at Scots continuously from 1953-1986, and Nathan was very disappointed not to be a prefect like them.

“That meant I didn’t get any leadership training at Scots, otherwise I was happy with my achievements during my time there.”

And so he should be:

  • Athletics Champion
  • Cross Country Champion
  • Brechin Scholarship
  • Economic Prize
  • Monetary Policy Prize
  • The Varuhas Trophy Awarded to the student who has reached a high academic standard in all of his subjects at least one of which must be a commerce subject

It was in Year 10 that Nathan started running as part of the Wellington Harriers distance squad under Graham Tattersall (then Scots College distance running coach). Nathan started slowly but finished up representing NZ in the New Zealand Secondary Schools Cross Country Team in Year 13.

“Graham would only take on athletes who were willing to train, and the team was made up of students across all year groups.”

Wellington Harriers has a strong connection with Scots College and fellow students Kieron McDonald [2008-2012], Alex Smaill [2005-2012], James Fletcher [2010-2014], Nicholas Pointon [2009- 2013], Tom Caughley [2011-2015], Callum Stewart [2012-2016], and Max Zorn [2008-2014] were all part of the squad.

Nathan says Graham expected a strong commitment and work ethic from the squad.

“Being in a high-performance group encourages you to push hard to get results, and the discipline translates into all facets of your life – academic, career and relationships.”

Nathan says he still runs not only for his mental health and the prevention of anxiety, but because it gives him mental clarity. He has started to run to work, which makes him feel energized.

Graham encouraged Nathan to join the Wellington Harriers’ Board when he was only 18. Graham wanted to encourage the youth voice on the Board and had thought there were too many old white guys representing only one demographic.

As a consequence, Nathan has seven years governance experience under his belt, and he is now leading the running club’s male 20-40yr group. He also took over as Marketing Manager from Scots College alumnus Tim Cornish in 2017.

Sadly, Graham died on 16 October 2014 and it was tough for all the squad. Nathan says that Graham was a huge mentor to him and it was like losing a grandparent.

“His death didn’t sink in until a few months later when I started racing again and didn’t have him there to encourage me. He tailored his advice to each of his athletes. In my case, he knew I needed confidence, so he gave me words of assurance like ‘You’ve got as good a chance as anyone to win this race …’ However, I kept getting just short of the podium.”

But Nathan says he learnt to be resilient; to keep training.

“Sport builds these qualities. Accepting defeat without being defeated makes you train harder."

That work ethic has helped him during interviews, as he is able to speak of his experience working hard, and he believes it is why he has been offered some exciting opportunities.

At the end of Nathan’s first year at Victoria University (studying a BCom and BA), he was chosen to represent VUW and New Zealand at the 2014 APEC CEO Voices summit in Beijing. It was an amazing experience.

“I got my worst marks ever for my first university assignment, part of my BCom. I worked out that I had to get 23/25 in my final exam to get an A+ for that subject. So I worked really hard to get that grade. If I hadn’t done so, I wouldn’t have had an interview for the APEC opportunity. Co-incidentally, the interviewer was an ex-Graham Tattersall runner so understood my work ethic.”

And yet, Nathan says he had imposter syndrome; he didn’t think he was good enough.

“I almost didn’t say yes to an interview to go to Beijing. If I hadn’t gone, I wouldn’t have met the guy who suggested I might make a good lawyer and I wouldn’t have studied law, I didn’t think I was smart enough. He was 27, I was 18, and he is now my mentor.”

While at University, Nathan became involved with the VUW Asian Law Students Association, becoming Vice President in 2017, and President in 2018.  This led to him becoming the President of the VUW Law Students’ Society in 2019, and President of the New Zealand Law Students’ Association in 2020.

“With the VUW Law Students Society, I was involved 24/7. It was incredibly busy, juggling study as well as leading the organisation. I found the most stressful part was the governance of people and managing conflict. But I learnt to collaborate and ensure we had a diverse outlook and represented minority groups.”

He was obviously a more than competent juggler, as he gained First Class Honours in his law degree too.

He received the Russell McVeigh University Scholarship, which gave him a clerkship during University and an offer of full-time employment upon graduation. He also interned at the Commerce Commission to gain some insight into the public sector.

Nathan is in the Banking & Finance team at Russell McVeagh.

“We work reasonable hours. If I work long hours it is self-imposed because I want to ensure I’ve done a really good job. It takes me longer than others to do the same work and it is in my nature to want to do a good job.”

Nathan has just been awarded for the Best Unpublished Legal Paper this year and, true to form, when congratulated, he suggested that the judgment is subjective. Click here to read it.

Nathan says he is a fan of the changes being made at Scots.

“The Rainbow Group and the emphasis on diversity would never have existed in my day – there were very few people of colour when I was there.”

He also thinks that becoming Co-ed is a positive move, but as Scots is at the beginning of the journey, it will take a while to settle in.

“These changes are good for the people Scots produces.”

“I owe Scots a lot due to the opportunities I was given, and particularly by running with Graham.”

Graham Tattersall, Nathan, and Max Zorn in 2014

Selected to represent NZ in the Secondary Schools Cross Country team, 2013

Illustration by Rob Tse, The Scot, 1988

Dr Gavin Fincher MB.ChB (Otago) FACEM [1982-1984]

Dr Gavin Fincher

Do you know there are 42 causes of chest pain? The chances are you don’t, but it is one of the reasons why people like Gavin Fincher spend six years at Medical School, then one year as an intern, two years as a resident intern, and a further five years training – including three rounds of difficult exams – to complete their fellowship.

As an Emergency doctor, it’s Gavin’s role to figure out what particular cause is responsible for a patient presenting at Accident and Emergency clutching their chest – is it the heart, lung, pancreas, gall bladder? Is the shortness of breath caused by pneumonia or too many party drugs?

Gavin says he loves the thrill of being a diagnostician. He graduated from Otago University and was drawn to Emergency Medicine as he considers it to be the ‘hard’ end of medicine.

And of course, this year, Emergency Rooms all over the globe are in the front line of the world’s Covid-19 response.

Gavin lives and works in Brisbane. He moved there after attending an Emergency Medicine Conference and speaking with a doctor who worked at the Princess Alexandra Hospital and was offered a role. He has worked at the Prince Charles Hospital for the past 14 years. It is a major teaching hospital in Brisbane with an emphasis in cardiac and respiratory medicine and cardio-thoracic surgery. They have a number of heart, lung, heart and lung, and “triples” (heart, lung and liver) transplant patients, plus adult super-speciality Cystic Fibrosis, muscular dystrophy, pulmonary fibrosis, COPD, pulmonary hypertension, congenital heart, and coronary artery bypass, to mention a few, among a wide range of high level complicated patients for whom contracting Covid-19 could be disastrous.

Gavin says Emergency Medicine doctors are trained for disasters and pandemics. “Personally, I have been onsite for bus crashes, and was leader of 4 teams receiving patients from Cairns when we evacuated Cairns public and private patients just prior to cyclone Yasi. I always felt something big would come like Covid-19”.

“Because the hospital had previous experience dealing with SARS and the swine flu, where there were no vaccinations in the initial phase in the case of swine flu and not at all for SARS – as soon as we heard about Covid-19, we considered our options and once cases started to arrive via aircraft, we initially divided the department into two groups, infectious (red area), and non-infectious (green area). We needed to keep everyone as safe as possible and initially, given there was an uncertain supply of PPE (personal protective equipment), we had to conserve our resources. The difficultly being that Covid-19 has mimics of other conditions, for example cardiac (myocardial infarction), and ENT (loss of smell), which can make triage very difficult.

At the middle of March 2020, Brisbane had cases imported from China, the US, and Europe.

“We used negative ventilation rooms, which are rooms that when the doors are closed have their own internal ventilation systems with viral filters and separate exhaust systems, to keep the hospital and staff safe.” A negative ventilation room once the doors are closed circulates it’s own air. Note the big difference between a system like this and that used in other situations where the air may be circulated through multiple rooms or seats.

Gavin wears scrubs and PPE at work as he finds it impossible to remain socially distant when he’s treating a patient. Unfortunately, wearing the PPE feels like wading through mud, so tasks take much longer and everything must be washed down between each patient, making it very time intensive. Before heading home, he showers and puts everything in the wash. At home, one car is the “Covid-19” car used for work, and another is the “non Covid-19” car. Given the high number of health professionals who have had Covid-19, despite PPE, due to the unavoidable close contact, it has proven quite a challenge. In saying that, at this point, none of the health professionals at The Prince Charles Hospital have become infected at work.

It is not for the faint hearted. We worked out in the initial phase that the risk of death appeared to be 1:500 up to age 50, about 1 in 90 at 50 and 1 in 25 at 60. The risk increasing with medical conditions and decreasing with increased fitness. These numbers have changed now.

And of course, it’s not just medical, nursing and other front-line staff who have had a hard time of it. Although they have seen hardly any cases of flu this season due to the social distancing regulations, they are now seeing a growing number of patients presenting with mental health issues related to stress from Covid-19 in the community and drug and alcohol related problems.

His advice to anyone thinking about Emergency Medicine is to understand that it is not for everyone.

“The drama and excitement suit a Type A personality, but it can be stressful as you have to be calm in the face of a storm, and be able to keep focused. However, if you are interested in community service then it is incredibly rewarding. You’re saving peoples’ lives.” Literally on a daily basis, some of which becomes very routine due to training, e.g., the treatment of heart failure or pneumonia.

A note from Gavin:

“This year has been like no other year. With Covid-19, I, like others, put my affairs in order. I felt it important that people at the front line needed a voice given the extreme high-risk circumstance we are working in.

"Thank you for including my experience. I am very grateful for the efforts of my Queensland community, as I am sure your emergency people in Wellington are for your community efforts.  We are a designated Covid-19 hospital, which means that as you read this, we are likely to have Covid-19 positive patients from the quarantine of Australians returning from overseas. Queensland has chosen to admit all Covid-19 positive patients to a hospital ward to maximise community safety and minimise the chance of transmission. We have no community transmission and have not had any community transmission for months.

"I am happy to help point those interested in Emergency Medicine in the right direction."

Form VII Cricket Team 1984 – Gavin is middle, front row

Prageeth (PJ) Jayathissa [2002-2006]

Forward thinking – A Past Student's View

Prageeth (PJ) Jayathissa left Scots in 2007 to study Mechanical Engineering at the University of Canterbury. Since then, his career has taken many twists and turns.

He started his own design engineering company, which had projects ranging from wind turbine optimisation to electric bike design. PJ moved to Switzerland to study for his Masters at the ETH Zurich in renewable energy systems, and wrote a thesis on human skin tissue repair. Following that, he began working as an architect designing buildings that produce more electricity than they consume, and somewhere in between, wrote a PhD on the matter.

While in Europe, PJ was President of a network of more than 2000 entrepreneurs and innovators that utilised their knowledge to solve problems in climate change, and set up an organisation that provides protection to vulnerable refugee women in Greece. He now works as a data scientist in Singapore where he uses AI to optimise human wellbeing in office spaces. And he also teaches yoga in his spare time.

PJ’s own experiences have led him to think about how today’s students should be prepared for their futures:

“The general education system is loosely based off methods designed during the industrial revolution; you learn subjects, specialise in a career, and become a human machine within a certain skill set.

"While this has worked in the past, I am now designing machines that are more capable, efficient, and competent than any human machine can be. A human machine simply has no chance of competing against the artificial intelligence that is being manifested.

"So what differentiates humans from the current state of AI? It is curiosity, compassion for others, and the desire to solve global problems, the ability to think creatively, and innovate. Even educators should be warned – if you don’t innovate in your teaching methods, you too will be made redundant in the near future!

"Students should not learn subjects to know subjects, because any AI will know these subjects better. Rather, you should learn subjects in order to learn how to learn. We all have open access to an unfathomable quantity of knowledge. The challenge is to process that knowledge in the most efficient way. That is what you need to get out of your time at school.

"Focus on your curiosity in the world, employ the breadth of knowledge that is available to you, solve the large problems in life, and most importantly, fail.

"If this sounds theoretical, in terms of practicality, I look at my cohort of colleagues who studied mechanical engineering. One works as a lawyer, another works with autistic children. There’s a musician, mindfulness coach, sailor, pilot, and a huge number that became scientists or got brought into the finance and consulting sector.

"These career changes were possible because our engineering degree taught problem-solving and the search for knowledge. We became modern versions of the renaissance-man that can simultaneously be an artist, philosopher, mathematician, and scientist. We are no longer boxed into career silos because that simply has no future.

"Fortunately, these skills can be attained during your time in school. You just need to try and fail. Start an organisation that solves a societal problem. Learn to code online and develop an app. Go protest against injustice. Help a homeless person, and trace the source of poverty. Make a process more efficient and follow it through into a product. And most importantly be curious, and let it kill the cat that resides within you.”

Ming Thein [1997-1999]

Ming Thein Ming Watch

I spent the final three years of my secondary education at Scots College. I’d been accelerated through school in Australia, and found myself in form 5 in Plimmer House at Scots at the age of 10.

My classmates didn’t know quite what to make of me, but fortunately, the teachers and Headmaster at the time – Ian McKinnon – took it in their stride and didn’t treat me any differently from the other students. Aged 13, on the strength of the references from Mr McKinnon and Head of House Mr Moiser, I managed to get into Balliol College, Oxford to study Physics.

Despite the difficulties, I made a number of good friends at Scots and have reconnected with them through Facebook in the last couple of years. It’s encouraging to see some things haven’t changed, and at the same time they’ve grown up and moved on! 

To say being accelerated through school and university was challenging is an understatement. I didn’t really have any idea of what was going on around me at a social level, and probably missed out on a lot of the growing up that happens with that kind of interaction. I did a degree I probably wasn’t suited to, struggled through most of it and only discovered right at the very end that there was a huge difference between being able to do something and doing something you felt passionate about. Thanks to not really learning that lesson and various social pressures, I ended up in the corporate world doing something I found boring – audit – because at 16, that’s the only quasi-financial employer who would take me on (I was too young for the various securities licenses at the time).

I did get into finance eventually – and during my career had several more corporate roles, the final one as a senior director at McDonalds – and yes, they do make everybody train in the restaurants to understand the business. However, during this time, I discovered both watches and photography and happily ended up combining the two, turning my passion into a business. I taught photography workshops internationally – including a very memorable one at Google HQ in California, have 160+ students in my online correspondence photography school, and run one of the largest photography websites/communities on the internet – – which has half a million regular readers every month. It’s grown beyond my wildest dreams, and occasionally requires a pinch to check reality.

I have always wanted to make things. With like-minded friends, I formed a company to make the kind of watches we wanted to buy. The company (MING, launched in 2017 and has received critical acclaim from the horological community and beyond, being featured as widely as The New York Times, Fortune, and Bloomberg. Our watches were selected for the finals of the industry’s equivalent of the Oscars – the Grand Prix d’Horlogerie de Geneve – in 2018, and again this year in 2019.

Education is something I believe is incredibly important; not just while you’re at school and passing exams, but as you continue through life to acquire new skills and stay ahead of the game. I wouldn’t recommend acceleration through school – broadening of interests and staying with your peers is more important. Success depends not so much on knowing the answer or solution as knowing how to find it, and how to think critically – that is something which is both extremely important and very rare. I know I had a solid foundation in my education, and I’m grateful for that. In my small way – I’m proud to pass that on in my field of expertise.

Perhaps there are a few nuggets of wisdom I can offer from my experiences. Firstly, there’s far more to be lost in not doing something you’re passionate about than if you try and it doesn’t work (and I’ve lost count of the number of things I’ve tried that haven’t worked – and learning what worked is every bit as important as what didn’t work). Secondly, always try to maintain that delicate balance between caring enough to go the extra mile that will make the difference – but not caring so much that all of your emotional well-being is invested in whatever it is you’re doing. Finally – we are all different people and have different preferences, needs, and wants – what works for somebody won’t necessarily be right for you, too. Don’t be afraid to be different; if there’s one thing that’s for sure, it’s that doing the same thing is unlikely to result in a different outcome.

Hanan Laban [2000-2004]

Hanan Laban

It’s no surprise that Hanan Laban has been drawn to a leadership role in rugby. He grew up in a family with a long association with the sport, and community and political leadership has also been prevalent through the generations.

His father is well-known rugby commentator, and local and regional councillor, Scots Collegian Ken Laban [1971-1973], and his grandfathers and great grandfathers enjoyed playing the game in Samoa, where they also were community leaders.

Hanan is Chief Executive Officer at Wynnum Manly Seagulls RLFC in Australia. He credits his upbringing, and his education and experiences at Scots College, as being instrumental in preparing him for the challenges he faces in his current role.

In fact, Hanan’s first leadership role was as Head Prefect in 2004*.

That same year saw him playing for the Wellington Rugby League team as well as Rugby Union, which led to him winning a scholarship to the Newcastle Knights Rugby Football League Club. He left the morning after his Year 13 Final Dinner to go straight to training for the Under 20 squad.

Unfortunately, Hanan never made the top squad, but the scholarship enabled him to gain a conjoint degree in Business and Economics at the University of Newcastle and earn a salary. Another upside was that Hanan boarded with Michael Hill (not the jeweller!) but Chairman of the Newcastle Knights while at university, and he has been a major influence and mentor for Hanan.

Hanan played rugby as a professional for a year in Avignon, France, and subsequently signed a semi-professional contract with the Brisbane Broncos, an affiliate of the Seagulls. During that time, Hanan worked full time in Institutional Banking at Westpac for six years.

Although Hanan loved his time with Westpac, he came to realise that his passion lay in sport and he started to get involved with coaching and leadership at the Club.

Not long afterwards, the CEO of the Wynnum Manly Seagulls resigned so, despite his relative youth, Hanan applied for the job and got it! He feels fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time as jobs in sports administration are very hard to find, the industry is narrow, and there are few opportunities.

Hanan loves that he’s involved in providing young people with a career and an elite pathway. Many of them are from low socio-economic backgrounds; they may not have much education or support at home, so sport gives them structure to work hard, and a purpose. It’s a chance for them to live their dream. The players feed into the Broncos as the Seagulls are their development arm.

Hanan says the Club focuses on players’ welfare and wellbeing, both while playing and to help them with the transition from rugby when the time comes. Sport can have a huge impact on communities, it brings them together and it is built on volunteers. The Club ensures players put time back into the community as, put simply – without the community, there are no fans and no audience.

There are big personal challenges too:

Leadership is constantly evolving, learning, developing. What is leadership? How do/should leaders act? How to ensure communication is appropriate and at the right time?

Hanan has learnt the importance of honest, genuine conversation and relationships, and the importance of changing the ingrained behaviours that don’t align with the Club’s values.

He credits good mentors with helping him on his leadership journey, particularly Michael Hill and Paul White, the CEO of the Broncos and, of course, his education at Scots College.

Hanan had a great time at Scots and he feels fortunate to have had the opportunities, facilities, and teachers that were available there. He says students and staff were genuine, they cared about each other, and about your development. “At Scots, learning was a focus – everyone was there to learn, there were no behaviourial problems so we were given the best chance possible.”

A highlight for Hanan was in 2002, when Scots won the Quad for the first time. Ian McKinnon was there in support, and it certainly helped having Victor Vito in the team!

“It was fantastic to witness the pride engendered in the school.”

Hanan still keeps up with his school friends on social media, many of whom are all over the world, e.g., Andy Sauu (Sydney), Victor Vito (France), Sam Fogel (UK), and Reed Roberts (UK).

Hanan and his wife met at university and both feel strongly about education, so much so that she is a teacher.

And Hanan has some advice for current students:

  1. Soak up every opportunity that Scots has on offer. You’re very fortunate.
  2. Whether it is music, sport, or education, enjoy it, build strong relationships with your cohort; they are the best years of your life and will serve you well in later life.
  3. In the workforce: understand your passions, have a go, and don’t hold back!
  4. Be honest and genuine with your communications in your personal life and in business.
  5. Be transparent and upfront, that way you will be the best.

*(His younger brother Luke followed in his footsteps becoming Head Prefect in 2008 – making them one of only two sets of Head Prefect brothers in Scots’ History. The others being Henry (2015) and Jack (2017) Mexted.)

Ezra Iupeli [1990-1994]

Ezra Iupeli

Here’s a little brief on what I’ve been up to since leaving Scots College in 1994 (25 years ago.. yikes!!)

I’ve always said that my time at Scots College were the best five years of my life and prepared me for a rapidly changing world. Scots provided me with a wide range of challenging learning opportunities, which I eagerly grasped, in order to reach my potential; and I know that most of my peers from Scots developed the diversity of skills that are sought by employers today.

It certainly stood me in good stead when I badly injured my hand playing rugby, three years into a four year Graphic Design Degree. Nine months of rehab and physio threw everything out of kilter – not only with my studies with the inability to write, sketch, and draw, but even the simplest of tasks like driving, washing the dishes, playing the piano, and holding a fork were challenging. My biggest regret is not being able to finish my Degree, but rather than feel sorry for myself, I decided to enter the workforce by waltzing in to the InterContinental Hotel Wellington (formerly the Parkroyal Wellington) to apply for a job in their Concierge Department, a division in Hotels that had always interested me.

I loved the opportunity to deal directly with guests and showcase what to do, what to see and where to eat here in Wellington. Hospitality is an industry that I’ve always encouraged family and friends to dabble in as some of the experiences I’ve had would be impossible in most other professions and occupations.

Fast forward seven years, and I heard New Zealand Rugby were creating a role for a Concierge and decided to apply. Luckily for me I was successful in getting the gig and I’ve been with New Zealand Rugby ever since. Highlights during my time with NZR include working as a Liaison Officer for the All Blacks at the 2011 Rugby World Cup Tournament, and for the New Zealand Under 20 Team at the 2014 Junior World Cup Tournament, both held in Auckland. I’m now in a National Teams Administrator role where I look after logistics for the Māori All Blacks, the New Zealand Under 20 Team, and the New Zealand Schools Team, including our very own Sam Rasch as Assistant Coach and young Roderick Solo as a playing member of the squad.

Thinking back, I owe a lot to Ian McKinnon, who arrived at Scots College in my 6th form year. I was fortunate to be in the first intake of Plimmer House and the Inter-House Competition became fiercely contested when the talent throughout the College was spread amongst Aitken, Fergusson, Glasgow, MacKenzie, and the two new Houses, Plimmer and Uttley. These changes to the House System, along with the addition of new events like Battle of the Bands, Rugby 7s, and Hakas / Chants brought out the best in the students. I have no doubt that the success of Scots College today is due to systems and processes implemented by Mr McKinnon and I will always be grateful for his leadership during my final years.

Joe Daymond [2009-2013]

Joe Daymond Comedian

Have you heard the one about the Māori Fijian from Wainuiomata playing to sell-out crowds at SkyCity? No? Then read on….

Joe Daymond felt mediocre in his early years at Scots College. It was a big move for the boy from Wainuiomata. He felt that the bar was set high for the students and that Scots was all about excellence. “I was an ‘excellent’ student myself, but I was surrounded by boys doing better, and I wondered if I was doing enough.”

Joe says he enjoyed having high aspirations as he was competitive, and being in the Boarding House made it more competitive. “It’s made me who I am.”

He was in the 1st XV but didn’t see himself as a career rugby player, so he got involved in other activities, including debating, and was one of the top accountancy students.

As Head of Mawson House, Joe initially struggled with self-esteem, but he credits House Dean Mr Smith for encouraging him with public speaking and leading the haka. All of which increased his confidence.

After leaving school, Joe went to Auckland to study Accounting & Finance because he was good at accounting and thought it was what he should do. Turns out it wasn’t. Despite his obvious competence, and a promising internship, Joe left University and returned to Wellington.

He challenged himself to work out what he really wanted to do, and decided to give stand-up a go. Once he got over his initial nerves, he thrived.

A budding comedian doesn’t earn much. You have to get yourself in front of promoters and managers, no easy task, but his entrepreneurial streak (he had a few businesses going while still at school!) came up trumps. He started writing for Radio DJs Jono & Ben and toured with Guy Williams, and received great feedback.

It was especially tough for Joe at first. For six months he cleaned caravans, waking up at 3am for a 3:30am start. He would work till midday, sleep, write for Jono & Ben, do stand-up till midnight, then repeat the next day. 

Joe started getting noticed when he was nominated for several awards at the 2018 NZ Comedy Guild Awards including:

  • Best Newcomer
  • Breakthrough Artist of the Year
  • Funniest Online Presence

At the same time, his Social Media presence was growing. Joe committed to posting something each day during the Covid lockdown. With more people at home and online, it really took off. He has more than 44,000 followers on Instagram alone.

Joe’s ‘The Crowd Work Tour’ went to Christchurch, Dunedin, Hamilton, and Auckland. He is the youngest comedian to sell-out Auckland’s SkyCity Theatre two nights in a row.

Joe says, “It’s the proudest moment of my life and probably my first real break.”

Scots was lucky to have Joe as part of the Bromad festival last year. He says he loved coming back and would be happy to get involved again.

Joe describes his act as "inappropriate but relatable." He doesn’t view racism as insidious, but comes from ignorance. “It’s ok to be unsure about other cultures. People are often too scared to talk about what they don’t know. It’s always ok to ask.”

His advice for students:

  • You don’t need to have all the answers when you leave school. Don’t be afraid about not knowing what you want to do.
  • Don’t just go to university because you think you should. Enter the work force. You’ll gain life skills and certainly find out what you don’t want to do, because you can only get the worst jobs.
  • If you delay university you might save yourself a lot of time and money in the long run.

I’m very excited about Scots being co-ed and am pleased to hear that the Scots girls are settling in well. I left school having no idea how to talk to girls. Scots was single sex and rugby was very male dominated so it was a bit of a shock to get into the real world. That’s another thing work can teach you because 50% of the work force is female.

Joe with JG Bradbrook, Eli Vole & TJ Va’a at Scots in 2013