Class Act 2023: St Hilda’s Collegiate

Ava Beens


Ava Beens has a goal as big as the world — working for the United Nations.

She wants to study geography and politics at the University of Otago and use that to work for the United Nations.

Her dream is fuelled by her love for geography, travelling and helping people.

Ava’s travelling experiences have influenced her career choice.

She has visited Australia, the Pacific islands and Southeast Asia with her family but wants to visit many more countries.

She likes travelling because of what it teaches her about foreign culture and heritage.

Ava says during her travels she saw a lot of people suffering and this inspires her to try to create a better future for others.

"I want to make change and leave the world a better place than I found it."

Ava is the St Hilda’s head girl, a role she feels honoured to occupy.

"It’s a really special role to be in."

She says the pressure of the task made her step up and develop leadership qualities.

Ava’s time at an all-girls high school has fuelled her passion for women’s rights.

She joined Zonta last year and loves it.

The women-supporting-women environment and having the opportunity to raise awareness and money for the organisation are things she enjoys.

Ava also has a love of hockey.

The hockey turf has been an integral part of her life since she was 3 years old, when she would watch her mum and sister play, before she began playing as a 5-year-old.

"I loved it as soon as I started it."


Achievements: Head girl (2023); NCEA level 1 and 2 with excellence; academic blues (2021, 2022); senior debating (2021-23); hockey blues (2021, 2022); service blues (2022); all-round achievement (2021, 2022); general excellence with diligence (2019, 2021, 2022); junior hockey coach (2020-23); WISPO Leadership in Sport (2022); first XI hockey team (2020-23); first XI hockey team captain (2023); 
Otago U18 A women’s hockey team (2021-23); Otago U18 A women’s hockey team captain (2022); Otago U18 A women’s hockey team most outstanding defender (2022); peer mentoring (2021, 2023); peer tutoring (2021-23); formal committee (2022); student council (2019, 2021, 2022); enviro club (2021-23); Amnesty International (2019, 2021-23) SADD (2023); wellbeing club (2022, 23); volunteer club (2021, 23) Zonta Club (2022, 23) Zonta Club co-vice-president (2022); hockey liaison (2022); level 2 statistics with excellence (2022); level 2 
geography with excellence (2022); level 2 English with excellence (2022); level 2 chemistry with excellence (2022).
Role models: Her mother because she worked hard to provide for her children.
Hopes for the future: To study geography and politics at the University of Otago.


Zara Geddes


Joining the tech industry will likely be a jog in the park for Zara Geddes.

The 17-year-old St Hilda’s Collegiate School pupil plans to attend university in the United States to study computer science and continue her love of running.

Zara excelled in cross-country throughout her primary school years.

This encouraged her to join the Hill City Athletics Club at 12 years old, where she tried all the athletic events.

She discovered running was her strength and started working with a coach just a year later.

Zara has won numerous athletic and running competitions, although her favourite distance is the 1500m — a "short and sharp" race she finds exciting.

She enjoys running because she likes the feeling of crossing the finish line and knowing she did her best.

She said running also helps her clear her head and makes her feel better.

Aerobics has been another sporting pursuit for Zara for many years.

She started in year 5 as a way to supplement her other sports and dance.

Since last year, she has worked as a volunteer coach teaching aerobics to primary school-aged children.

She enjoys the role and being able to see the children progress.

Zara is also interested in digital technology.

Her interest was sparked in year 11, when she started taking digital technology at school.

"It’s just become a little bit of a passion for me."

She wants to be part of the growing tech industry and be one of the people involved in making advancements in technology.


Achievements: NCEA level 1 and 2 with excellence; overall highest achievement (2019-22); Rotary National Science and Technology Forum selected attendee (2023); 100% in computer science paper at the University of Otago (2023); Otago regional debating development squad (2021-23); NZ secondary schools girls’ cross-country team captain (2022); NZ secondary schools cross-country team representative in Australia (2022); selected for the NZ secondary schools athletics championship team (2022); NZ secondary schools cross-country championships senior girls’ champion (2022); winning Otago-Southland 5 x 2000m cross-country relay team member at the NZ secondary schools cross-country championships (2022); NZ secondary schools athletics championships 3000m 
medallist (2022); NZ secondary schools athletics championships 1500m medallist (2022); Athletics NZ track and field championships age-group medallist (2022-23); Athletics NZ cross-country championships age-group medallist (2020-22); Otago Academy of Sport (2022, 23); New Zealand Competitive Aerobics Federation national championships medallist (2016-18, 2021); volunteer coach Hill-City University Children’s Athletics Club (2020-23); volunteer coach at Queens Aerobics Club (2022, 2023)

Role models: Her mum, dad and older brother.
Hopes for the future: To study computer science in the US.