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Courtney RayesMarch, 2014 
Diving in New Zealand  

Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society Announces 8th Australasian Rolex Scholar – 2014/15  

For more than 35 years, the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society® (OWUSS) has provided first hand experiences in underwater-related disciplines to young people considering careers in the underwater world.  OWUSS awards three Scholarships annually selected from applicants in North America, Europe, and Australasia.  

PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor Courtney Rayes, 22 years from Auckland,New Zealand was this month selected as the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Australasian Rolex Scholar for 2014.      

Courtney is studying towards a Master’s degree in Biological Science at the University of Waikato and holds a Bachelor of Science degree in Applied Science, majoring in Marine Biology. A strong advocate of the oceans, Courtney states that in order to truly protect our underwater world, “I believe awareness and education is vital in initiating and achieving conservation, sustainability and restoration of the underwater environment”     

“I feel honoured to have been granted such an opportunity, adds Courtney, “it is a great privilege. I am extremely excited for the year ahead and look forward to making the most of every opportunity”. 

From her early years Courtney was influenced by the sea from family holidays spent camping at Hahei Beach on the Coromandel Peninsulain New Zealand. At school attended in Auckland, Courtney participated in surf lifesaving at renowned Piha Beach and various other water sports, including underwater hockey, water polo and canoe polo.  

Prior to her final year, the seeds of a strong environmental passion were set when Courtney completed a leadership course on Outward Bound. “Despite the physical challenge of this program,” she added, (a three day hike over mountainous unmapped terrain, rock climbing blindfolded, kayaking down white water rapids, a three day solo in the bush and a half marathon), “it was the underlying messages and awareness that still resound today,the majority of these focused around the importance of our environment and ways in which people can play a better role.”  

In 2009 Courtney enrolled in a diploma of marine studies at the Bay of Plenty Polytechnic Tauranga, where she was awarded the Kelly Tarlton’s underwater scholarship. Within the first year, achieving PADI Open Water Scuba Diver certification - through to PADI Divemaster qualification,Courtney states the major highlights of the diploma were the 10 day dive trips living on a boat and island and completing underwater scientific surveys as a joint project with the Department of Conservation.   

After working as an aquarist at Kelly Tarlton’s in Auckland, in 2010 Courtney became a PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor. Her qualification gained her a job at Leigh, north of Auckland working on an outer gulf charter boat.  It was a position she really enjoyed – sharing the underwater environment with many new divers and trying to instil the idea of conservation wherever possible.  

While completing her Bachelor of Science degree in Tauranga, Courtney spent her spare time diving the local offshore islands.  It was during this period that the Rena ran aground on the Astrolabe Reef off the coast of Tauranga causing a massive environmental impact. Adds Courtney, “I participated in much of the clean-up,recovering everything from oil coated sea life to polystyrene beads.  It really made me aware of the potential human impact to the environment”  

Always excited to explore new places, Courtney’s wishlist for future dives include the Kermadec Trench (between New Zealand’s North Island and Tonga), The Galapagos Islands, within the Coral triangle, anywhere in Australia,Antarctica, The Baltic Sea, The Red Sea and numerous places in Europe and the United States.   

“Currently the majority of my diving is around the Bay of Plenty and Hauraki Gulf in New Zealand.  It will be awesome to dive new terrain and experience tropical and even cooler water temperatures, as well as hopefully exploring the deep sea”.  

Courtney is also keen to progress in her career as a PADI Professional, “I currently have no experience using a dry suit - and as yet - have not pursued technical diving, which I think would be extremely useful in future for scientific and exploratory diving I undertake”, she adds.   

With a strong interest in marine ecosystems and following the work undertaken so far during her Masters Degree, Courtney hopes to continue with her scientific approach and utilize it to create a greater awareness and share her passion for the underwater world.  

And of her outlook as Courtney embarks on her new role,“I hope any contributions I make can have a positive influence internationally,whether through photography, research, field assistance, or the education of others.  The ability to contribute and inspire will give me great satisfaction, and more importantly, benefit global communities and the surrounding marine life”. 

Congratulations Courtney, PADI would like to extend our very best wishes for your success as the Our World-Underwater Scholarship Society - 8th Australasian Rolex Scholar – 2014/15. 

January, 2014
Diving in New Zealand  

Darrell Bird from Dive Zone Whitianga featured in the NZ Herald

Having certified over 1,200 new PADI Open Water divers and providing Instructor Training programmes and opportunities for the disabled to get themselves in and under the water, it’s no wonder the NZ Herald have chosen to feature the scuba diving life of Darrell Bird, owner of Dive Zone Whitianga, and the Coromandel Peninsula. 

Highlighting some of the great experiences and achievements Darrell has had throughout his life, from a backpacking novice-diver to the owner of a successful dive company, it shows once again how diving has the power to positively change lives.  

Located on the eastern coast of New Zealand’s North Island, the Coromandel is home to masses of school fish, caves, canyons and huge red crayfish. You may even be lucky enough to spot a friendly dolphin or a pod of orcas on your dive.  

The North Island of New Zealand offers some fantastic sub-tropical reefs and beaches while the unique topography and temperate waters of the South Island make the entirety of the country a diving paradise. Many of the hot spots are easily reached from the mainland and there’s a wealth of PADI Dive Shops ready to help with trips to the off shore islands and reefs. You can dive fiords, wrecks, and sub-tropical reefs, or explore kelp forests and swim with vast schools of fish. 

For information and advice on diving in New Zealand, check out our New Zealand Vacation Spotlight page. 

The full story and interview with the New Zealand Herald can also be viewed here.  

 November, 2011
Diving in New Zealand  

PADI hosts Instructor Exam in Christchurch   

Mark Cummins, Instructor Examiner from PADI Asia Pacific travelled to Christchurch on the weekend of November 18-20, 2011 to conduct a PADI Instructor Exam.  

Ashburton Community College was the venue for the Knowledge Development presentations while the Confined Water presentations took place at the Ashburton Community Pool.  On Sunday 20th November, the group travelled to Wainui, approximately 77km south of Christchurch for the Open Water dive, where there were spectacular views of  passing cruise ships in nearby Akaroa Harbour.  

All candidates were students of PADI Course Director, Janine Delonge and Dive HQ Christchurch.    

Congratulations to the new PADI Instructors Adam Clarke, Lindsay Sorenson, Aaron Fletcher-van-Vugt, Zoe Armstrong, Paul Brougham, Zoe Wood, Dan Burrows and Ethan Eder.    

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