Anakiwa: A Place For All - Outward Bound

Anakiwa: A Place For All

News from Anakiwa

At Outward Bound New Zealand, understanding and respecting the diversity of people and culture is a key objective for all our courses. We aim to bring people of all cultures to work together and achieve as a team.

We asked six students from diverse backgrounds to share their stories with you. They all came to Outward Bound earlier this year with the assistance of a scholarship from generous donors around New Zealand.

Ilham Akhlaqi

I’m an Afghan Muslim and I recently attended the Southern Cross course. Getting my parents to let me come to Outward Bound was challenging, and that was just the beginning of a remarkable experience I will never forget. 

It doesn’t matter what nationality, religion, race or age you are, at Outward Bound, we are all human beings with a soul.

You’re tested at your weakest physical and emotional stages. It’s the most challenging and difficult experience I have been through, but I learnt so much that will help me in many years to come.

Discovering nature was the highlight for me, I have grown fond of amazing scenery, the amazing stars at night and swimming in bioluminescent water.

I hope more people like me do this course - those who come from the Muslim faith, those who are female, and those who struggle to fit into Western society.

Ilham Akhlaqi, 19
Southern Cross - Batten 650


Ilham (right) and Melika

Muyang Wang

I moved here from China five years ago. On arriving here, New Zealand surprised me with the prettiest nature I’d ever seen and stunned me with the harmony of its diverse community.

I was delighted and honoured to have the opportunity to complete a 21 day course at Outward Bound. It was only with the help of generous donors that I was able to participate.

My experience felt inward and outward, independent and cooperative, peaceful and active. The course had a huge positive impact on me and my community.

I had so many learnings from Outward Bound. I developed a more confident and positive mindset by achieving challenging missions.

My body and mind were strengthened through outdoor activities and interactions with my watch, and my love and appreciation towards beautiful Aotearoa nature was broadened.

Lastly, and importantly, I established solid relationships with lovely peers from diverse cultural backgrounds.

My wish is for more students to receive an Outward Bound scholarship and become more confident and positive in the outdoors.

Muyang Wang, 23
Southern Cross - Batten 650


Muyang (left) and Harry

Dima Alsheikh

I am Muslim and all my watchmates were from different religious backgrounds and cultures, but I soon discovered there were many similarities between us.

I have lived most of my life in Iraq, a country where it is dangerous. I wanted the opportunity to challenge myself physically and mentally in a safe situation.

At Outward Bound I learned valuable life lessons about cultural differences. It taught me that there will always be people who accept you as you are.

While having different backgrounds and beliefs, we all cooked together, slept in the same room and laughed together. We chose to focus on the similarities between us, not our differences.

My hope is that New Zealand will continue to combine all cultures and religions and make a beautiful place to live together with supportive people, just as my group did at Outward Bound.

Dima Alsheikh, 21
Southern Cross - Batten 650


Dima Alsheikh

Ben Johnston

Ben participated on our Horizons course, specially designed for people with disabilities. Ben’s watch shared a diverse range of abilities, and yet they all came together and formed close friendships.

I had the “Best Time Ever” at Outward Bound. I had to get healthy and fit, it was hard work. I really enjoyed meeting new people; they were all cool. The food was tasty, and I liked my bed.

I was challenged to do things I have never done before and I enjoyed it. We did bush walks and finished with a swim and rock jumping in the river. We also sailed a cutter through the Marlborough Sounds.

A real highlight for me was swimming and abseiling which were so much fun. I also really liked the daily boat trips. Thank you for this opportunity.

On returning from Outward Bound Ben decided he wanted to get a job. We’ve just had the exciting news that he has two job interviews coming up – best of luck Ben!

Ben Johnston, 24 Ben
Horizons - Sheppard 650

Ben Johnston 2

Ben Johnston

Matt Haven

Matt took part in our Insight course, run annually in partnership with The Blind Foundation.

I wanted to come to OB to challenge myself physically and mentally just like I did when I was younger and still had usable vision. I only have shades of light and dark vision now.

With our instructors explaining activities and the environment in a way suitable for blind and low vision participants, we were all able to gain confidence to achieve our goals.

One of my most memorable experiences was being taught sailing skills by a totally blind watch member. He explained how to feel for the wind direction, and then position the tiller compared to a clockface.

Camping out overnight in the bush amongst the native bird life was a great chance to reflect and think about future goals. I endeavour to go camping again in the future and explore New Zealand’s incredible and diverse landscape.

Now home, I’m more active and this has increased my social circle, which is definitely a bonus. I am going to take part in a waka ama training session with friends I met at Outward Bound. We are also planning on joining a Yacht Club and go sailing more often.

Matt Haven, 36
Insight - Blake 651

Matt 2

Matt Haven

Kalia Treblico Leaf

Kalia recently went on our Northland schools’ course, Kotahitanga, along with 13 other teenagers, all from the Far North.

For many of us, it was the first time away from our families and the first time in the South Island. 

A highlight for me was our service scheme – a day of giving back to the community. Our way of doing this was pioneering our way through blackberry, gorse and many other prickly bushes to help build a section of walking track between Havelock and Picton.

It was a highlight for me because we all worked as a team to get it done - I have the scratches to prove it!

Kotahitanga pushed me to my limits, and I learnt so many new things like coasteering, waka ama, hiking, rock climbing, high ropes, sailing and important skills like listening, time keeping, leadership and working in a team.

I was only able to experience all this with the support of generous donors.

I hope the Outward Bound supporters understand and realise how thankful and grateful I am to them for playing a vital part in my life journey.

Kalia Treblico Leaf, 17
Mind Body Soul (Kotahitanga) - Cobham 651


Kalia (standing, centre)