Class Act 2023: Bayfield High School

Mei Admiraal


For Mei Admiraal, having fun is the secret to a good life.

The 17-year-old fencer, volleyball and badminton player at Bayfield High School finds fun in a variety of ways — almost too many to keep track of.

"I would like to think that I can prioritise most of the time.

"I feel like I shouldn’t really take up anything more."

Mei plans to study exercise and sport science at the University of Otago.

In 2022, she won the New Zealand University Fencing Championships in women’s foil, was second in the President’s Cup in women’s open foil for fencing and third in the under-20 women’s nationals and second at the South Island champs.

A blade is not the only metal tool in Mei’s repertoire.

After she couldn’t play the trumpet at National Secondary Schools, Mei picked up the cornet.

She then found herself as a regular in the St Kilda Brass band.

"I ended up going along to some of their practices and it stuck, and now I’m still playing for St Kilda.

"I like playing with people; making music is another form of expression," she said.

She was second in the under-19 slow melody and air varie at the provincial competition in 2022.

Last year, she was also co-principal cornet of the New Zealand Secondary Schools’ Brass Band.

She is eagerly awaiting to play with the band again this year.

Mei plans to keep having fun and take each opportunity as it comes.


Achievements: Academic prefect (2023); badminton team 1 captain (2022-23); NCEA level 1, 2 excellence endorsement (2021-22); academic blues (2021-22); Clarke MacMaster Memorial Trophy for brass playing (2021-22); Cup for contribution to girls’ badminton (2022); outstanding achievement, fencing (2022); outstanding service, show band (2022); cultural blues, classical music (2021-22); jubilee award for best all-round performance (2019-20); Paul Mullan Trophy, excellence and service to music (2020); St Kilda Brass 
(2020-23);  second in U19 slow melody, air varie (2022); New Zealand Secondary Schools Brass Band (2020-23); co-principal cornet (2022); badminton South Island, plate U19 girls doubles (2022); President’s Cup,  second in open women’s foil (2022); New Zealand fencing cup, second (2022); national U20 women, third (2022); South Island champs, second (2022); Otago U19 volleyball (2023); UC MATH199 course (2023); Claymore Swords Club, most improved (2022); New Zealand University Fencing Championships women’s foil, first (2022); St Kilda Brass most improved (2021); Dunedin Youth Jazz Festival, most promising trumpet player (2022). 
 Role Model: Trumpet player Alison Balsom.
 Hopes for the future: To study exercise and sport science at the University of Otago.


Abel Therakkadavath


Home is where the heart is, and Abel Therakkadavath knows this more than most.

The 18-year-old Bayfield High School pupil plans to study ecology and geology at the University of Otago.

If all goes according to plan, he wants to work for the Department of Conservation to help the planet.

As one of Bayfield High School’s environmental prefects and enviro-group leaders, he is off to a strong start.

But before he can protect the planet, Abel wants to get in touch with his own roots.

Next year, he plans to take a gap year back home in France.

From there, he will travel across Europe, and hopefully fulfil his dream of travelling to Iceland.

He loves the sound of the Icelandic language, the mountains and the cold weather.

However, his biggest goal — quite literally — is to climb Mt Everest.

After watching the French movie, L’Acsension, about a man who climbs Mt Everest to prove his love for his girlfriend, Abel felt inspired and wants to do it himself.

His drive to protect the environment comes from his love of nature.

His grandmother would take him into the forest to pick mushrooms as a child.

Abel is also passionate about tramping, running and sewing.

He came first in the under-17 mixed team relay at the Caversham cross-country, as well as second in the HETTANZ sewing competition.

But Abel says his biggest achievement to date has been discovering his passion for Indian dance.

Having not been allowed to do it until he was old enough, because of the strain it can put on knees, he had become interested again over the past few years.

"That’s a great achievement for me, to be able to do something that I was meant to do.

"I knew I had to do it my whole life."

Achievements: Deputy head boy (2023); student council member (2023); environmental prefect (2023); peer support leader (2023); enviro-group leader (2023); NCEA level 2 excellence endorsement (2022); NZQA French scholarship (2022); first in level 2 calculus, dance, French, biology (2022); HETTANZ sewing competition, second, highly commended creative section (2020); badminton boys A team (2022); badminton boys B team (2023); Logan Park Road Race, fourth in mixed relay (2023); Otago athletics championship, second in senior boys long jump (2022); Caversham cross-country, first in U17 mixed team relay (2021-22).

 Role models: Josephine Baker and the sherpas  who carry backpacks on Mt Everest.
 Hopes for the future: To take a gap year travelling across Europe and then study geology and ecology at the University of Otago.