Kuranui College’s evening with renowned adventurer Jamie Fitzgerald last Friday saw an audience from all generations entertained with tales of incredible feats, mixed with valuable lessons in living a successful life.
Jamie, who is one half of the duo featured in TV One’s action documentary series ‘First Crossings’, explained how he survived rowing 5,000km across the Atlantic Ocean in world record time, walking to the South Pole unsupported on foot, and trekking across the entire length of this country with New Zealand’s youth on the ‘Big Walk’.
Jamie Fitzgerald entertains the audience with his tales of adventure
His messages were simple, but extremely powerful, as he highlighted that tenacity and mental (rather than physical) strength were the real secrets of his success. The single-mindedness that he and his co-adventurer Kevin Biggar required for their record-breaking row even extended to rowing whilst asleep. Jamie showed some astonishing video of him filmed in pitch darkness, with eyes firmly closed, pulling hard on the oars in a trance-like state.
The training he underwent for the South Pole adventure was equally grueling, dragging car tyres behind him for up to 12 hours per day for an entire year, to simulate pulling a 160kg sled across the ice. Having reached the bottom of the world successfully, he was unable to make the return journey, as he had shredded both his hamstrings in the process. There was also the small matter of having lost 32kg in body weight, despite consuming over 7,000 calories each day.
Jamie also outlined his plans for the future, including a further series of ‘First Crossings’, which includes shooting an episode in the Tararuas, and repeating the ‘Big Walk’ at some stage, with the inclusion of parents this time round, so that they can share in their children’s experience.
Jamie Fitzgerald, Kuranui Outdoor Education Teacher Glenn Beach and Principal Geoff Shepherd
Three Kuranui Year 11 students recently discovered that they were able to extend themselves way beyond what they thought they could do, thanks to a Rotary Club initiative designed to enrich young people.
Walter Taber who lives in Lake Ferry said he found out more about his own personal limits and urges young people to take part if they’re given the chance “You really find out how much you can actually you do – you should just do it!”
Murphy Cater from Martinborough agrees, “You’re learning about what the limits are and the fact that you can do a lot more than you give yourself credit for.”
South Wairarapa Rotary, who enabled them to take part in the Rotary Youth Programme of Enrichment (RYPEN), sponsored both boys and Joel Charters from Carterton who was sponsored by Carterton Rotary completed the trio.
Kuranui Head of Senior College Di Banks believed that the three students possessed the necessary qualities Rotary were searching for – decency, sincerity, persistence and applicatio – and nominated them for the three-day course.
Kuranui’s Joel Charters, Murphy Cater and Walter Taber reach new heights thanks to local Rotary Clubs
“It’s an honour to be asked to go do something when there are so many students who could have been asked to do it,” explains Joel. “I now feel more confident to go and do more outdoor things. I never really wanted to do that kind of thing before, I’m not really an outdoor kind of person. My biggest challenge was the rafting. Although I do feel comfortable on the water I thought I’d be scared, but I wasn’t once I started getting involved – it was really good fun.”
He puts his new found confidence in the people who were around him. “They split you up so you weren’t with anyone you knew. You’re not forced to make friends, but its hard not too,” Joel said.
“We did lots of things we weren’t used to doing. You don’t normally go outside and just lift up a power pole,” he laughs. “We had to carry people on stretchers like we were in a war-zone. If fact we had to pick up lots of different items from tractor tyres and barrels to shells.”
The programme took place an hour out of Taihape at the Kawhatau Outdoor Centre which is owned by the local Rotary Club, and the course was modeled on basic army training.
“We were in a swimming pool and we had to swim with this 20kg shell and give it person to person all the way down the pool. At the same time we had to get a 10kg weight from one end to the other along the bottom of the pool,” describes Walter.
“But the pool wasn’t at the same level all the way along and I’m shorter than the others and when I got the shell I just dropped it because it was so heavy. We had to use the strengths and weaknesses of the whole team,” stated Murphy.
Joel explains further: “We had time to decide who was the good and not so good swimmers, not discriminating against anyone, just the plain facts of who was better and then placed them in strategic positions.”
“We learnt how to work out what was better for the whole team. I was one of the strongest swimmers in the group but I still couldn’t carry a shell, so I had to move down the shell load,” added Murphy.
“In another exercise we had to use a stretcher down this near vertical slope, it was like slippery and everything. We had to make the stretcher that we could flip upside down and back up again without the person falling out,” continues Walter.
“And I was terrified of heights,” Murphy joins in “There was this one piece of wood sticking into my back and another in the back of my neck and it hurt the entire time.”
Did he keep quiet for the sake of the team? “No, I moaned all the way down!” he laughed.