It’s uni in the Bay for Bae

10 December 2018

University of Waikato Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship recipient, Bae Fountain.

Water polo and volleyball rising star Bae Fountain’s uni career just got a whole lot easier. At his recent Mount Maunganui College graduation he was awarded a University of Waikato Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship.

Bae’s opted to study a Bachelor of Science majoring in Environmental Science and Aquaculture, and that means he can stay in Tauranga next year, amongst the first cohort of students to study at the city’s new campus.

Bae says he’s thrilled to stay in his hometown while pursuing his tertiary and sporting goals and is “super grateful” for the financial support the scholarship will provide. “There really isn’t funding available for my discipline and the cost of competing is significant,” he says. He wants to be playing water polo at the Olympics one day.

As a kid, Bae aspired to be a professional athlete, initially a pro-skateboarder, but he credits his school-teacher mum Sheree with kick starting his water polo career.  “Mum needed an extra kid to join her Flippa ball team so I was a ring in,” he laughs. When the family shifted from Hamilton to the Bay of Plenty, the natural sportsman got into water polo. “My teacher, Dor Kayes, encouraged me to join the Mount Maunganui Intermediate team and the Tauranga Water Polo Club.” Moving to the Mount also saw Bae pick up two more disciplines to excel in – volleyball and beach volleyball.

First selected to represent New Zealand at just 15 years of age, Bae played for the youth men’s water polo team and represented NZ Schools at volleyball. Last year, aged 16, he became the youngest goalkeeper selected for the New Zealand open men's water polo team and was a member of the New Zealand junior men’s volleyball team. Juggling two national sports was challenging, and expensive, so Bae has put volleyball on the back burner while he focuses on his dream of Olympic selection for water polo.

Of Ngāi Tahu descent, and with a natural affinity for the ocean, Bae also wanted to pursue his interest in the sciences and looked for a tertiary qualification with a point of difference. “I like the idea of identifying issues and solutions relevant to our whenua/moana while looking to create ecologically sustainable practices,” he says. Waikato’s Bachelor of Science, with new Aquaculture major, fitted the bill and now he’s keen to see where the degree will take him.

“As far as a career goes, I don’t fully know what I want to be or do,” says Bae. “I suspect that as my uni experience unfolds I’ll have greater clarity about what I can do.”

Established in 2005, the Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship is worth up to $10,000 a year for full-time undergraduate enrolment, and offers school leaver students personalised academic support, access to leading sports coaches and tutors in the arts, and a tailored leadership and personal development programme.

Latest stories

Related stories

Cushla Foe

Ready and raring to go

Cushla Foe was working in retail in Queensland when she decided she was ready for…

Vic Arcus web

Battling cattle bloat

Why are some cows more susceptible than others to bloat? Scientists think a single protein…

PhD student

University of Waikato researchers to lead seaweed farming trials in Hauraki Gulf and Bay of Plenty

University of Waikato researchers’ Dr Marie Magnusson and Dr Rebecca Lawton will receive $1.2 million…

Dr Deniz Özkundakci

Toihuarewa – Waimāori Chair in Lake and Fresh Water Science appointment confirmed

Toi Moana Bay of Plenty Regional Council and the University of Waikato have appointed Dr…

asparagus picker

Roadmap launched to grow NZ’s robotics industry

With robotics and automation set to replace 46 percent of day jobs by 2040, a…

Steve Hodgkinson

Alumnus working at the forefront of new immunity support against Covid-19

University of Waikato alumnus Dr Steve Hodgkinson is CEO at RuaTech where he is part…


Sir William and Lady Judi Gallagher announce further support for University of Waikato with new scholarship

Hamilton philanthropists Sir William and Lady Judi Gallagher will fund eight new scholarships a year…

Rachita in a lab

Master’s fast tracks research career for international alumna

Rachita Radhakrishna Pai’s path has always been focused on science – knowing as early as…

Waikato Management School

Waikato Management School Ranked #1 in New Zealand

The University of Waikato Management School has been ranked number one in New Zealand for…

Dr Adam Hartland

Waikato climate researchers develop device sold to universities around the world

Waikato researchers unlocking keys to climate change hidden in the drip water from inside New…

All Blacks

New research shows how Covid-19 lockdowns affected the world’s athletes

How have Covid-19 lockdowns affected the world’s athletes? It’s a question that 111 researchers from…

Shaun Kirkham

Hard work and dedication a winning combo for alumnus and Olympian

Fresh from winning an Olympic Gold medal, Shaun Kirkham is using his experience as a…