Fianna Scholarship 2020

Oscar and Devonte embrace Outward Bound experience 2020

Article by Aidan Bennett at Channel Magazine

Since 1989, the founding year, the St Patrick’s Day Golf Classic Charitable Trust has applied funds raised at its annual golf tournament (St Patricks Day Charity Golf Classic) to benefit young people and quite often those in need. In 2003 the trustees announced the inception of its Fianna Scholarships. It was decided that each year it would provide scholarships which would enable two young year 11 and 12 people from the North Harbour region to undertake a three week Mind, Body & Soul course at Outward Bound at Anakiwa in the Marlborough Sounds. This course is well known to provide invaluable life skills which the founding trustees believed would contribute immensely to the personal growth of these youngsters.

The inaugural scholarship winners were announced in 2004. They were Courtney Miller of Westlake Girls High School and Paul Hellyer of Rosmini College. Every year since, two students – most often from the same North Harbour school – have received the scholarship and attended Outward Bound. In 2011, following the Christchurch earthquake, the Fianna Scholarships were awarded to four deserving students from that city.

The trust asks the selected school to pick the recipients, with the only criteria being that it is unlikely that family circumstances would enable the recipients to easily afford the course fees and air fares to Anakiwa.

Oscar Sein (17) and Devonte Pahulu (16) were chosen from Northcote College as the 2020 St Patrick’s Day Golf Classic Charitable Trust Fianna Scholarship recipients. Aidan Bennett (Channel Mag publisher and Trustee of the St Patrick’s Day Golf Classic Charitable Trust) ventured along to the school during February to chat to Oscar and Devonte about their experiences at Outward Bound as they completed the three week course during December and January.

Oscar Sein lives at Birkdale. The trip to Outward Bound in December (he did the December Mind, Body & Soul course) was his first to the South Island. So the landscape was all new to him. Oscar’s ambition is to do lots of travelling when he finishes school, and while he doesn’t have a determined career path, he thinks it will probably involve something entrepreneurial.

Quietly spoken Devonte Pahulu, who lives at Northcote, is recognised as a leader at Northcote College. The keen sportsman (and Tupac fan) plays Tag, Touch and Rugby – having represented North Harbour at age group level. He plays centre. College principal Vicki Barrie says that he is a real athlete who has been a member of the first XV for many years. Devonte undertook the Mind, Body & Soul course in January.

For the two Northcote College boys the whole Outward Bound experience was totally new to them.

“It changed my thinking completely around what I am capable of,” explained Devonte when quizzed about the experience. “At the start I wanted to come home. When I came home after the course I wanted to go back. I want to go back now. It taught me to take a better road than before. I learnt lots that I can pass on to others. Like there’s more to find in themselves than they know.”

“I hadn’t heard about the course, so when I realised I might be going I Googled and watched a YouTube video,” added Oscar. “It made me both excited and a little nervous as I hadn’t done much adventurous stuff previously.”

Both Devonte and Oscar enjoyed the sailing, with Devonte particularly enjoying being the mainsheet man. They also had turns on the tiller. Devonte also enjoyed rowing, kayaking, tramping and generally getting to work closely with some new friends in his ‘watch’. The white water Kayaking up a river where parts of Lord of the Rings was filmed was a highlight for Oscar. They say there was also lots of walking and tramping.

“While sailing we almost had a big mishap,” said Oscar, explaining his real life Dean Barker/American Magic moment. “The instructor hoped off the boat and left us to it. Just as we were tacking we were hit by an estimated 38 knot gust and nearly ended up hitting a cliff edge.” The three week course includes sailing for a two night/three day camp. There is also a two night solo camp when they are by themselves. Both found this character building with Devonte having trouble with possums scratching his bag in the middle of the night while he was in his improvised sleeping hut. He admits to being a bit nervous about taking a look!

There were around 140 people at each course, in watches (groups) of 14. Phones were handed in on arrival. Towards the end of the course they had to write a letter to themselves which was handed in to Outward Bound and will be sent to them in six months. They will make for interesting reading in the middle of the year.

Oscar Sein says the course helped him realise how he was capable of much more. He developed a real liking for running as a result of the course. There was lots of running, including completing a half marathon (21 kilometres). Oscar has continued to run and is doing a charity run and raising money for mental health. He ran 21 kilometres on the day before we met for this chat.

“After completing the course I realised the importance and significance having support and guidance when it comes to mental health,” says Oscar.

“It was certainly life changing and I learnt a lot about myself. I loved the Queen Charlotte Sounds, it is a special place. I was quite a popular cook on the course as not all of our watch knew how to cook.”

“Teamwork was big. We had to work together when one of our watch members needed to get extracted from a camp due to an accident and not feeling that well about the whole experience. Everyone pulled together to ensure he was looked after.”

Well done Devonte and Oscar. You embraced the challenge and have quite clearly come out the other end the better for it. Making the St Patrick’s Day Golf Classic Charitable Trust very proud. We look forward to seeing your progress in the years ahead.