Runners from Ashburton College and Mount Hutt College hit the hillsQuinn RitchieAshburton College’s Quinn Ritchie powers to a second-place finish at the Aoraki Secondary Schools Cross Country Championships. Photo supplied. surrounding Mountanview High School on Wednesday, all in a bid to be crowned champions at the Aoraki Secondary Schools Cross Country Championships.

Nine students from Ashburton College and seven from Mount Hutt College competed, with six students finishing in the top five of their sections.

For Ash Coll, Quinn Ritchie finished second in the intermediate boys’ section, while Taonga Mbambo finished third in the senior boys.

Representing the girls, Natasha Waddell placed fourth in the senior girls’ section.

Off the back of those strong finishes, the three runners will now be competing at the New Zealand Secondary Schools Cross Country for the Aoraki region.

Joining the group in Christchurch in mid-June will be Matt Clough, who was unable to compete at the Aoraki championships due to injury.

Injury and illness did have a strong effect on the Ash Coll team, leaving them without the required number of runners to compete in the teams’ event.

Aimee Elliott from Mount Hutt College placed third in the senior girls’ section, while Courtney Elliott placed third in the junior girls section.

Charlie Brown was the other Mount Hutt student to place in the top five, finishing fourth in the junior boys’ section.

By Jaime Pitt-MacKay © The Ashburton Guardian - 8 June 2017

Simon O’Neill has gone from small town Ashburton boy to international opera star and among the many simon oneillSimon O’Neill, officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Photo suppliedaccolades that have come his way is becoming an officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

O’Neill is currently in Berlin rehearsing at the Staatsoper and said he was humbled to be part of the Queen’s Birthday honours.

“It puts me amongst esteemed company and provides heart-warming recognition from my country,” he said.

Awards did not come just from the efforts of the recipient, O’Neill said.

“ When I take the time to reflect there has been help I’ve received from many people during my career including my wife, Carmel, my parents, family, teachers and colleagues.”

O’Neill’s musical career began in a small way as a St Joseph’s School boy, learning the piano with  Joan Perkins.

He then started playing the euphonium with the Ashburton Silver Band and was also a church organist.

“I was never gifted with music, but I loved it,” O’Neill said.

In some ways he was a latecomer to singing.

At Ashburton College he joined the Phoenix Choir and credits teachers Gordon McGhie and Robert Aburn with giving him the solid musical background on which he has built his career.

“When I take the time to reflect on the education and the love of making music that I have, it’s come from these wonderful Ashburton teachers and institutions.

“I’ve also had huge support from my parents Gabrielle and Brian, and my wife, Carmel.

“They’ve helped me craft a professional career in music. I am very grateful to you all,” he said.

Today O’Neill is recognised as one of the world’s finest heldentenors (heroic tenors).

He is principal artist with the Metropolitan Opera and the Royal Opera House, Covent Garden, Teatro alla Scala, Berlin, Vienna and Bayerische State Operas and both the Salzburg and Bayreuth Festivals.

He has performed internationally in many opera houses and concert halls and with top international orchestras including the London Symphony Orchestra, the Berlin Philharmonic and the Staatskapelle Berlin.

O’Neill has been recognised for his commitment to the development of young New Zealand singers and was appointed as an adjunct research fellow at Te Koki New Zealand school of music in 2012 where he provides master classes and coaching sessions to advanced singing students.

He is patron of the New Zealand singing school trust and the New Zealand Association of teacher of singing and returns regularly to New Zealand to perform with the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra, Auckland Philharmonia and New Zealand Opera.

He was a Fulbright Scholar in 1998, received the United Kingdom Wagner Society Prize in 2003, was made New Zealand Arts Foundation Laureate in 2005 and received a Doctor of Music (Honoris Causa) from Victoria University in 2016.

By Sue Newman © The Ashburton Guardian - 5 June 2017

Kate Lloyd Tactix Michael Bradley photoKate Lloyd Photo Michael Bradley Kate Lloyd’s outstanding 2017 just keeps getting better.

Fresh off the back of being called in to the Mainland Tactix squad as injury cover, the 1.92-metre defender was yesterday named in the Netball New Zealand Under 21 side to travel to Botswana in July to compete at the Netball World Youth Cup.

The former Ashburton College student, who is now studying at Lincoln University, was one of 12 names announced yesterday as a part of the squad who will have the added pressure of defending the world title after winning it back in 2013.

It comes off the back of another solid 12 months on the court for Lloyd who has drawn attention to herself through her hard work and determination, whether it be as part of the Tactix squad or through her involvement with the Mainland side in the Beko League.

Under-21 coach, Kiri Wells, told Netball NZ that it had been a tough selection process with all players in the squad stepping up, but the 12 selected have the edge and x-factor required.

“We’ve seen some amazing performances in the ANZ Premiership particularly,” Well said.

“The players have shown that they can stand up and that they can be tough – and we’re going to need tough.

“We’ve picked a team that gives us a lot of variety, particularly at either end of the court.

“We’ve got holding shooters, moving shooters, we’ve got defenders who can play space and play tight man, and so we can mix it up and really use our game plans to advantage.”

As three-time winners of the gold medal at the Netball World Youth Championships, the pressure will be on the New Zealand side to perform.

They won the competition in 1992, 2005 and 2013.

This year they will have the services of some of New Zealand’s most exciting netball talents, Lloyd included, featuring current Silver Ferns Maia Wilson and Kelly Jury along with a number of players who have stood up at ANZ Premiership and Beko Netball League levels.

The team departs for South Africa on July 3 where they will group for a training camp in Johannesburg before heading to Gaborone for their first match against Northern Ireland on July 8.

Their pool also consists of Sri Lanka, Scotland and Samoa.

By Matt Markham © The Ashburton Guardian - 25 May 2017