Leaders of the future give back to Waikato community

Twenty migrant and refugee families settling in Hamilton have been gifted bikes as part of a Leadership programme run by the University of Waikato’s Management School.

18 Aug 2023

Around 80 Year 13 students from across Waikato and Bay of Plenty came together on Tuesday for the Waikato Management School (WMS) Leadership Academy Summit Day. They heard about leading with compassion and empathy from celebrity speakers Mike King and Richie Barnett and spoke about personal self-assessment.

Students work together as part of the bike building activity

A surprise bike-building activity also taught students about the importance of working together, while giving back to the community.

Ange and JoshuaL-R: Joshua, Roger, Jacque and Ange


Students grouped together to build 20 children’s bikes, donated by The Perry Charitable Trust and heavily discounted by Torpedo7. The completed bikes were checked over by Torpedo7 mechanics to ensure they were roadworthy and ready to be presented to families at the Hamilton Multicultural Services Trust.

A family of 10 from Congo who arrived in New Zealand in February after spending 17 years in a Rwanda refugee camp said the bikes will help Ange, 10, and Joshua, 8, get to and from school.

Their brother Roger, 20, said they didn’t have bikes in Congo, “so we’re thankful and incredibly grateful for the bikes given to us.”

WMS launched the Leadership Academy pilot in Term One 2022 to support ambitious students to become stronger leaders.

For Charla Dougal of Mount Maunganui College, leadership became more than just a popularity contest.

Charla Dougal, Mount Maunganui CollegeCharla Dougal, Mount Maunganui College


“Take being a prefect, for example. You wear the jacket, you face the school and model what you think a leader is. But looking at it now, it’s way more than that,” Charla says.

"It’s about the little questions you ask. It’s what you do for yourself and the conversations you have with different people.”

Mental health advocate Mike King encouraged students with a passion to jump feet first.

“If you want to start a movement and be a good leader, have a passion and don’t leave your loved ones behind,” Mike says.

“Don’t test the water with one toe. If you’re passionate about something and you have an idea of what you want to do, then just jump in.”

Mike KingMental health advocate Mike King spoke to students as part of the Leadership Academy Summit Day.


Former Kiwi rugby league captain Richie Barnett spoke about how his competitive attitude got him through one of the toughest moments in his professional career.

Richie had a full facial reconstruction following a smashing head clash during the 2000 Anzac Test. He suffered breaks to both cheekbones and his nose.

“I was in pain, people didn’t even recognise me. I was told my career was over but after seven months I got back on the field,” Richie told students.

“No matter what you’re going through, it’s how you deal with it.”

Stories like these solidified Anna Smith’s dream of becoming a surgeon.

“Caring for people is so important to me. I wish there were more people here to hear Mike and Richie speak so they could benefit from it too,” the Cambridge High School Head Girl says.

There were many lightbulb moments throughout the day. For Julie Brouwer of St Peter’s Cambridge, it was the realisation that leaders don’t have to be in a leadership position.

Anna Smith, Cambridge High SchoolAnna Smith, Cambridge High School Head Girl


Julie says being turned down as a prefect was incredibly upsetting, but after being nominated by her school for the Leadership Academy she’s become a leader in her own way.

“I want to be a leader that motivates and inspires people,” Julie says. “I used to think leaders had to be direct and sometimes mean, but you can still treat people as people and you don’t need to be in a hierarchical position to be respected.”

Throughout the programme, students benefit from world-class leadership concepts and training from WMS staff and executive fellow and Alum Jamie Fitzgerald. They also complete the WMS flagship first-year paper, Introduction to Leadership Communication, which means they will already have one paper if they go to university.

The pilot will conclude with a final hub day in Tauranga in September.

Find out more about the Waikato Management School.

This research aligns with the following United Nations Sustainable Development Goals:

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