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Kazakhstan calling for budding biologist

Waitaki App

Arrow Koehler

13 June 2024, 10:30 PM

Kazakhstan calling for budding biologistAnika Hayes is preparing for her trip to Kazakhstan next month. Photo: Arrow Koehler

Kazakhstan is not the destination holiday most 17-year-olds dream of, but it is where one Waitaki Girls’ High School pupil is heading next month.


Anika Hayes is one of four students chosen to represent New Zealand in the International Biology Olympiad being held in Astana, Kazakhstan, in July.



About 80 countries will have their top four biology students at the competition, completing a variety of theoretical and practical exams.


To be selected, Anika has had multiple steps - an initial exam to pick the top 200 students, online training and assignments to narrow down the top 25 students, and an in-person training camp in Auckland to learn practical skills.


After all of that, she was selected as one of the final four.



“It’s been a lot of work, but it’s been worth it,” Anika says.


“I feel very privileged, very lucky, to have this chance, this opportunity.”


She met the other New Zealand competitors in Auckland, and they will be travelling to Kazakhstan together (with a stopover in China).


She says the Olympiad programme teaches a lot of things not taught in school.


“I like learning about the world around us. I think it's really interesting and there's so much cool stuff, stuff we don't know.”


In the lead up to the competition, Anika has had weekly meetings with the other New Zealand competitors and a lot of help from the school’s head of learning for science, Vicky Lilley.


Anika says the key to her success is “self-motivation”.


“If you don’t enjoy it there’s no point putting any effort in.”


Anika has to raise $8000 before she leaves in less than three weeks.


She has approached a number of community service groups and is hosting a fundraising concert at the Waitaki Girls’ High School Dunning Hall this weekend.


The koha-entry concert will be held at 2pm this Saturday (June 15), with a range of performances by Waitaki Girls’ High School students.