Celebrating over 60 years of commitment to OB - Outward Bound

Celebrating over 60 years of commitment to OB

News from Anakiwa

Ever wondered who makes sure there are extra socks, boots, thermals and raincoats available to students who don’t own those items? Or who is responsible for all the washing at OB? Or who came up with the ingenious idea for our poo plant? Then meet Jenn Wiese, Heidi Wallace and Vic Koller. Together they have worked for OB for over 60 years! The place just wouldn’t run without them and we want to celebrate that.

All three tend to be behind the scenes at OB, so we decided to find out a bit more about them. They all answered the questions in their own unique way. And that’s why we love them. Thanks for all your passion and dedication to OB Vic, Heidi and Jen.

Heidi Wallace, Clothing Rover

Started at OB in 2005

I was born in September 1940, during World War 2 in Posen, Poland. I grew up in Germany raised humbly by my Mother and younger Sister.

At a young age I met my husband Brian, we married young and set off on an adventure of a lifetime to Africa to work. Brian worked as a teacher initially then at the Luangwa Game Reserve as a Biologist. I supported his work and raised four beautiful children.

Africa holds a special place in my heart.

In 1970, the family emigrated to Blenheim, New Zealand.

I worked as a Workshop Supervisor for IHC for 33 years. I had a passion for Special Olympics. The highlight was as a Coach, taking a Team of 30 young people to the Indiana Special Olympics in 1987.

I retired in 2005.

Shortly after my daughter Nikhola, who was the Operations Manager at this time, employed me firstly to complete “odd jobs” for OBNZ. This soon rolled into my taking up the roll as Clothing Rover which I have loved ever since and has “grown a life of its own”.

My association with OBNZ goes back many years.

My daughter was an instructor in the early 1990’s. I loved being involved with the instructors and the “magic” that happened.

I supported three Disabled groups of IHC people on 8 day OB Disability courses.

A highlight was personally completing the Aspire course in 2010.

An extraordinary experience. Incredible people. I did more than I ever believed possible. I will never forget each moment of this time…….it is very special for me.

Special memories have been had at OB supporting Nikhola to raise her son Ben , as well as working alongside her for many years.

When I think about it The “Wallace Girls” have worked over 30 years” for OBNZ  - it is a big part of who we are! 

Clothing Rover is a small role at Outward Bound. I take it seriously. I ensure students get the most appropriate and safe gear we can provide that is “just right” for them.

This job is not just checking in and out gear. It is about supporting students and instructors to ensure they have the best course possible.

When asked what my favorite moments or times are at OB, I can not think of one, there have been so many.

“I am crazy for Outward Bound”.

Whenever the students arrive and we welcome them, I am filled with both pride to be one of this team and excitement for all that is ahead of them over the days to come.

The Team is unique and special – there is no place like it.

I am proud to be a “small cog in the wheel’ of Outward-Bound New Zealand.     

"The strength of the team is each individual member. The strength of each member is the team."


Vic Koller, Maintenance Manager

Started at OB in 1994

Tell us a little bit about yourself

Born and educated near Zuerich, Switzerland, I arrived in Christchurch with my fiancée Yvonne in 1973 for a 2 year working holiday.

I worked in the engineering sector in Christchurch for the next seven years. The following 5 years Yvonne and I manufactured cane furniture for 3 Christchurch retail stores. And then in 1985 we finally ended up in the Sounds - that had been our dream for many years.

Life got even better when our son Steven was born in 1989. Apart from spotting Yvonne at a dance, that was the best day in my life.  And then in 1994 after working in a Havelock boatyard for a few years I managed to get the maintenance managers job at OB that turned out to be my absolute dream job. Oooops… our 2 year working holiday turned into a slightly longer holiday…haha  

What did you know about Outward Bound before you started?

Not much at all. I just read up on the history of OB while preparing for the maintenance manager’s job interview.

What is your role at OB? Have you always had that role?

Preventative Maintenance on infrastructure, buildings, boats, trucks, wastewater treatment and drinking water treatment and associated compliance.

My favourite job is project management and I have been lucky to be involved with the following projects:

  • Manmade wetland for last stage wastewater treatment.
  • Move old Mc Kenzie/Batten watch house to new locations and turn them into training rooms.
  • Built new McKenzie/Batten watch house
  • Upgrade kitchen and extend rations room.
  • Upgrade Blocks 1 and 3
  • Turn the old visitor centre into nurse’s clinic and meeting room.
  • Built new fixed jetty at Anakiwa.
  • Built new floating jetty at TK
  • Built 3 new eco lodges
  • Upgrade TK buildings – a lot of that work was done by volunteers managed by Marg Robinson
  • Upgrade Deep Creek buildings – again most of the work done by volunteers managed by Marg Robinson
  • 6 new buses
  • New Huria/Blake watch house.
  • Moving weatherboard house by 40m   

How many years have you been working for Outward Bound? Do you have any other family members who have worked for OB?

I started in 1994 which makes it 26 years, Yvonne my wife also started work at OB in 1994 and left 6 years later to work as practice manager at the Havelock medical centre.

Why have you stayed with OB for so long?

The positive energy coming from instructors and the management team in pursuit of delivering outstanding courses that students will remember for the rest of their lives has never changed over the last 26 years.

This culture in turn has been a great energiser for myself and ensures that I do my bit to ensure this smart engine called OB Anakiwa runs smoothly at all times.  

What is one of your proudest moments working for Outward Bound?

The opening of the manmade wetland at back of the school in 1999. It meant that we no longer discharged wastewater to sea.

When one of the guests asked how good the effluent was,  I replied by drinking a small amount. To my horror a retired judge who was standing around the outlet decided to do the same. Ooooops that wasn’t in the script but fortunately both of us didn’t get sick which gave the wetland the best possible credentials.  

Have you done an Outward Bound course? If so, which one?

No – I would have done one say 20 years ago but not now.

What do you most love about your job?

The variety of work and the people I deal with to get things done

Anything else you would like to add?

At the age of 23 I asked myself the question, “what do you want to get out of life”.  One thing came to mind instantly - keep it simple!  Would I change anything now – no way.

Over and out!



Jenn Wiese, Laundry Manager

Started at OB in 1995

Tell us a bit about yourself

I was born in Ashburton. I have had lots of different jobs during my life. I have been married for 60 years have 4 daughters 9 grandchildren and 3 great-grandchildren.

What did you know about OB before you started?
I didn't know a lot about O.B. My daughter did a course during the 80s she loved it.    

What is your role at OB? Have you always had that role?
I do the washing at the end of the course. Before that, I looked after the school director’s pre-school aged children

Why have you stayed at OB for so long?

I simply love working here.

What is one of your proudest moments working for OB?

It's not one thing. It’s to hear people say it changed their lives forever.  

Have you done an OB course?


What do you most love about your job?

The staff. They are so friendly and really care about you.