Waitaki Girls' High School

Profiles of Former Students


  • Kate Saxton

    Kate was honoured for her work in the Solomon Islands. Kate was Head Prefect in 1989. She was a member of the 11 person second contingent of N.Z. Police to the Solomon Islands RAMSI mission during 2003-04, spending 8 months. She was deployed in the criminal investigations branch of the operation, where she was considered to be the top performer among a group of high-achieving multinational investigators.

  • Flo Bain

    Flo attended Waitaki late 1930’s/early 1940’s. Flo received her honours award for public service and also received a Waitaki District Council citizens award. She became a swimming coach in 1965, and finally stopped coaching when the Waitaki Aquatic Centre was opened in 2000. Flo was a qualified time keeper, judge, starter, referee, as well as a coach.

  • Elizabeth Duggan(Paterson)

    Liz received her Honours Award for her Service to the Alexandra Community.

  • Jan Riddell (Budge)

    Jan served on the Conservation Board for 8 years, making a strong contribution to conservation since the early 1980’s. Also served terms on the Regional Council where she was at the helm of the planning and resource management committee. She was then appointed chairwoman of the Waiau working party, established to negotiate a settlement with the then ECNZ for the Manapouri power scheme. The outcome of the groups work, under Jan’s leadership was regarded as outstanding.

  • Kathleen Henderson L.T.C.L.,L.R.S.M.

    Kathleen received her award in 1985 for services to music and the community. Her association with the Operatic Society was official accompaniast which spanned 32 years, during which time she never missed playing for a show.

  • Beverley McCaw (Chalmers) QSM

    Beverley has served 2 communities in which she has lived. Rural Haka Valley and the surrounding Waitaki area and Oamaru. Beverley is a J.P., marriage and funeral celebrant, involvement with Rural Women and many other groups. A former Waimate and Waitaki District Councillor. She was also a drought relief co-ordinator during very difficult times. Also set up the Upper Waitaki Community Trust.

  • Jennifer Gray: OBE

    Attended Waitaki 1968 - 1972. Jennifer was awarded the OBE in Britain in June, 1997. Attended Otago University gaining BSc. then moved on to Canterbury University finishing with Social Work Degree. In England she is Professional Adviser, Children Safeguards Policy Unit, Child Protection Division, Department for Education and Skills.

  • Virginia Blakey: MBE

    Virginia who was Dux in 1964 was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List 2010. Virginia is Head of Tobacco Policy branch of the Department of Health and Social Services in the Welsh Assembly Government.

  • Ceceliah Win

    Ceceliah was Deputy Head Prefect in 1997. Ceceliah was awarded a Nestle Young Achiever Award for a dietician who, within 5 years of registration, excelled in an aspect of dietetic practice, beyond the usual requirement of her job. Her award was in the category of “Creation of an innovative community education project” which involved the development of a diabetes prevention video and workbook for Maori, called “Eat, Move, Live”. Ceceliah has been the recipient of numerous scholarships.

  • Robyn Couper

    Attended Waitaki 1962 – 1967. Robyn trained as a nurse in Oamaru before attending Bible College of NZ in Auckland. As part of her missionary training, she spent 3 months in Cambodia working for World Vision. Her second assignment was a missionary nurse in Haiti. She has now spent 31 years in the country. She was nursing, but for the past 21 years has held a pastoral role with Evangelical Church of Haiti, currently running a prayer and counselling ministry with HIV-infected people.

  • Sister Dorothy Robertson

    1909. Spent 25 years in the mission fields of China, often in acute danger, especially during the war years. On a tiny island off Hong Kong, she was the only non-Chinese resident, treating some 10,000 cases annually. On her return to NZ she became a devout Deaconess in St. Paul’s Church, Oamaru.

  • Elizabeth Grant

    1952 - 1958. Elizabeth had the rare distinction of gaining triple honours (Medicine, Surgery and Obstetrics) in her State Final Nursing Exams at the Christchurch Hospital.

  • Matilda Hamilton

    1995 - 1999. Matilda was one of the top final-year medical students at the University of Otago’s Dunedin School of Medicine. Matilda also won the Sir Bernard Dawson Prize in Clinical Obstetrics and Gynaecology and RNZCGP Otago-Southland/JAD Iverach Prize in General Practice.

  • Joy Donaldson (Beattie)

    Joy attended Waitaki early 1930’s. She was one of New Zealand’s great stage successes in the immediate post-war years, finding fame in musical comedy here and in Australia and England. She was invited by J C Williamson to audition in Sydney and Melbourne and won the role of “Margot” in The Desert Song. After a sellout tour with Desert Song to the major centers of Australia, she then toured with Rosemarie with equal success. After travelling to London, her talent was evident and she accomplished the necessary skills very quickly and moved on to greater things until her marriage.

  • Betty Forbes

    1931. Betty was our first Empire Games representative, who went to Sydney in 1938 to compete in the high jump, and won a bronze medal.

  • Louise Sutherland

    1941. Louise was a nurse, who cycled through many countries and worked with the Amazon Trust which trained residents of remote places in simple health practices. Louise wrote memoires of her journeys called “I follow the Wind”.

  • Barbara Roberts (Piper)

    1942. Barbara was the first woman Traffic Officer to be appointed in New Zealand, stationed in Christchurch.

  • Gill McConway

    Attended Waitaki 1960’s. Gill represented Wellington and Otago in Women’s Cricket in her early cricket days. She travelled to England in 1972 and played on the Women’s Country circuit and was selected to play for England in 1984. At the end of 2000 the opportunity to get into cricket administration came along and was appointed Executive Director of Women’s Cricket in England and is based at Lord’s Cricket Ground.

  • Waveney Bolwell (Williams)

    Bolwell Track and Bolwell Park in Nelson named after Waveney and her husband for their work in community services in Nelson.

  • Katrina Hewett

    Attended Waitaki in 1990’s. Katrina won a gold medal in the 100m women’s breastroke at the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games in Dublin.

  • Marion Horsburgh (McVean)

    Attended Waitaki 1975 - 1979. Marion was chosen to represent New Zealand in Solo Piping at the McLennan Gold Medal Piping in the United States, where there are only 7 pipers from the World chosen to compete in this event. Marion has also competed in prestige events in Scotland where she has gained considerable success.

  • Janet Frame

    Famous Author. Attended Waitaki mid 1930’s. Member of the Order of New Zealand and Commander of the Order of the British Empire. She was recognized as a short-listed nominee for the Nobel Prize for Literature for 2003. Janet received numerous Awards for Literary Achievement, including the inaugural Prime Minister’s Award, New Literature Fund for Achievement (1958), University of Otago Honorary Doctorate of Literature (1978), Turnovsky Prize for Outstanding Achievement in the Arts (1984), Commonwealth Writers Prize (1990), Arts Foundation of NZ Icon Aware (2003).

  • Corinne Rooney

    Attended Waitaki 1988 - 1992. She gained a B.Sc with first class honours at Lincoln University and then went on to do a PhD. Corinne was awarded a research fellowship at Roshampstead Agricultural Research Institute which is north of St. Albans in England. She was carrying out research into copper as a trace element in soil.

  • Lyn Armstrong (Gillett)

    1964 - 1967. Lyn was the recipient of the Taylors College Australasia, Teacher of the Year Award. Taylors College provides University preparation Programmes for international students wishing to study in Australasia. Lyn currently teaches accounting and Economics as a foundation year for the University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology at Taylors College Auckland.

  • Joan Mary Anderson

    Attended Waitaki 1945 - 1950. Joan Mary was joint Dux of Waitaki, gained her M.Sc with first class honours in Chemistry. She was also awarded the Duffus Lubecki Research Scholarship, and also the first New Zealand student to be awarded an English-speaking Union George VI Memorial Scholarship, which gave her a year’s study in America. She then gained her Ph.D University of California, USA and was a bio-chemist in Canberra, Australia.

  • Dr Thora Marwick, M.Sc. Ph.D

    1910. Specialised overseas in X-ray research in wool and rubber treatment, becoming a world expert in this sphere. In the same time, she gained her Ph.D in London, her Fellowship of Cloth Workers at University of Leeds, as well as her fellowship of the Institute of Physics. During World War II, she carried out highly scientific and secret work for the Air Ministry and also did translations of the same from the Russian language.

  • Jane Ruddenklau

    Attended Waitaki 1990’s. Jane was presented with a Freemasons Rural Achiever Award at a mayoral reception as part of the Royal New Zealand Show in Hastings. She was nominated by the Royal Agriculture Society where she had to complete an “intensive” interview process talking about her goals, what she had done in the past and her community involvement. Jane was awarded the Sir Ron Trotter Gold Medal award at Lincoln University in 2000, for the highest achievement in the B . Com (Ag) degree. She went on to be the first female to be appointed to the Royal Agricultural Society Board of NZ in 2006, the first female volunteer fire fighter for the Gore fire brigade and along with husband Blair, following their return to farm in the Five Forks area - was awarded the National Supreme title of the NZ Farm Environment Awards in 2013. In 2014, Jane was appointed by an industry collaboration group and the government as one of two independant directors and the sole female on the Red Meat Profit Partnership Board in Wellington, charged with the allocation of $60 million towards improving farm productivity.  Today, Jane enjoys hosting WGHS agricultural students on their farm and encouraging excellence in this industry that she is passionate about.

  • Heidi Ward-McGrath

    Dux of Waitaki 1991. Heidi won the junior section of the Ernst and Young National Entrepeneur of the Year competition. She has her own Veterinary practice in Masterton.

  • Rachel Callander (nee Walker)

    Rachel attended Waitaki 1996-2000. Rachel is a TEDx presenter, speaker, trainer and the author of the Outstanding Book of the Year Award 2015 IPPY New York, Super Power Baby Project. Rachel is a highly sought-after speaker at conferences around Australia and NZ. Her audiences are mostly made up of health professionals, and she speaks about the need to communicate using open hearted language, especially at diagnosis. Rachel holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts Degree (BFA) from the Dunedin School of Art in New Zealand,is a Fellow of the New Zealand Institute of Professional Photography (NZIPP) and is an international award winning photographer and author.

    “My work life is varied and involves speaking to diverse audiences about challenging the deficit language used with regards to disability and the importance of effective and empowering communication in healthcare. I make art which involves painting and photography, sometimes at the same time. I have enjoyed being a wedding and portrait photographer over the last decade, but now, I am excited about focusing my energy into other things I am passionate about. I am sharing my thoughts about acceptance and diversity and they are being heard, adopted and transforming lives.”

    2017 AIPP WA, Landscape Photographer of the Year FINALIST
    2016-current, Thought Leader at Rachel Callander.com
    2015 Making a Difference Award- Attitude Awards NZ
    2015 IPPY Outstanding Book of the Year Award NEW YORK
    2014 NZIPP Fellow
    2011 NZIPP Wedding Photographer of the Year 
    2006-2016 Director, Callander Girl Photography
    2002-2005 Bachelor of Fine Arts, Dunedin NZ
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