Wild at Heart Spirit Awards

2023 Spirit Award Recipients

The Wild at Heart Community Spirit Awards are presented by Wellington Airport to a Year 13 student from each of the five local colleges (Rongotai College, St Catherine’s College, St Patrick’s College, Scots College, and Wellington East Girls’ College).

These awards recognise and celebrate students who have gone above and beyond to provide service to their school and community. Over the past 16 years 80 students have been acknowledged with the Award. The awards are presented at the Wellington Airport Regional Community Awards Dinner.

Wild at Heart Spirit Awards 2023

The 2023 Wild at Heart Community Spirit Award recipients are:

  • Rex More - Rongotai College
  • Ava Saulbrey - St Catherine’s College
  • Conor Chesney - St Patrick’s College
  • Ben Bridle - Scots College
  • Naya Espelita - Wellington East Girls’ College

Rex More - Rongotai College

Rex is a dedicated student leader from Rongotai College serving in the role of Arts Prefect. Rex champions involvement in performing arts at the college, serving as student leader of the schools award-winning Big Band and arranging cultural and arts events for the school. Rex has also been a lead member of the school's community service club Interact, organising fundraisers and support for numerous community organisations. The most recent fundraising activity for Shave for a Cure raised over $12,000 of which Rex personally raised $2,000.

Ava Saulbrey - St Catherine’s College

Ava is a determined student leader from St Catherine’s College serving as Environmental Prefect, School Council Whanau Hauora Facilitator and House Captain. Ava co-led a successful initiative to replace all the lights at the College with LEDs, organised local beach cleanup events for the past five years and ran a school-wide programme for Environmental Week. Ava is a volunteer lifeguard at the Lyall Bay Surf Lifesaving Club and recently achieved the Inflatable Rescue Boat Drivers Award and is determined to encourage other young women to get their IRB licences. Ava is also Volunteer at Ohariu Valley Equestrian Centre.

Conor Chesney - St Patrick’s College

Conor is an involved student leader from St Patrick’s College serving as Deputy Manu Taupua (Deputy Head Boy), Debating Club leader, Cross Country Team Captain, member of the Achievement Committee and Tutor Group leader. Conor is always at the ready to support the schools’ charity initiatives including collecting for Women’s Refuge, Cancer Society and Mary Potter Hospice and fundraising events for the Mental Health Foundation. Conor has been a dedicated Surf lifeguard at Lyall Bay Surf Life Saving Club for many years, now serving as patrol captain, mentoring trainee IRB drivers and coaching juniors. Conor is also a keen volunteer for the Wellington Harriers Athletics Club.

Ben Bridle - Scots College

Ben is an active student leader from Scots College, serving as College Prefect with the Wellbeing Portfolio and a Student Mentor. Ben is a member of the schools auditioned Chamber Choir and Premier A debating team. Ben regularly volunteers for the St Vincent de Paul Society, is a member of the Tennis New Zealand National Youth Advisory Group and the Wellington City Youth Council and a Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award recipient. Ben is an Ambassador for the Student Volunteer Army inspiring other students to get involved along with receiving the Gold Award for over 500 hours service and the Top Volunteer Award for clocking up the most volunteer hours for the school in 2021. 

Naya Espelita - Wellington East Girls’ College

Naya is an all-round student leader from Wellington East Girls’ College serving as Music Prefect with involvement in culture, leadership and sports.  Naya shares her passion for music as student conductor of the school orchestra and student leader for Sounds of Matairangi chamber music group. A dedicated member of the schools volunteering club, Naya has been recognised with awards in both the Duke of Edinburgh Awards and the Student Volunteer Army, and regularly helps with Breakfast Club, charity collections and beach cleanups. Naya established ‘Seat at the Table’ a cultural club to increase the representation and recognition of the Asian Community at Wellington East. The club is open to all students who want to share their culture or learn more about the wide variety of Asian cultures.