High Achievers

Will Ricketts, Luke Buda Samuel Scott, Con Wedde

Year: 1992 - 1996
Occupation: The Phoenix Foundation

The Phoenix Foundation began in 1997 by Samuel Flynn Scott, Luke Buda and Conrad Wedde. Having jammed for a couple of years, recorded This Charming Van and releasing the China Cove EP in 2000, they were joined by Richie Singleton, Will Ricketts and Tim Hansen in 2001. They wrote many songs until The Drinker, which received special attention from the Bnet radio network and went on to win Best Unreleased Song at the 2002 Bnet Awards. They also won a Bnet Top Pop track award for Damn the River in 2006. They have been described as the most potent band to come out of New Zealand since the far-off days of the Chills. As well as albums & EP’s they have composed sound tracks for two feature films: Eagle Vs Shark & Boy. They have just released a new album Buffalo, which has been acclaimed here and described in the Guardian thus: ‘taking a route increasingly denied to British pop, these New Zealanders have been able to develop under the radar over a decade before delivering what feels like a major breakthrough. Song writing this good doesn’t come along often…..an album that already seems destined to be among the best of 2011.’’ 5 Stars. The Guardian. 6 January 2011. (Dave Simpson) The band toured Britain at the beginning of the year and will start a three month tour in a couple of weeks which is going to be huge if current acclaim is an indicator: ‘These kiwis are unassuming types. They just sit there quietly running their island paradise and making gloriously lovely indie-pop music.’’ Total Guitar. Matthew Parker. Dec. 2010. It could be argued that they are rising stars but we believe they are already High Achievers.

Alexandra Owen

Year: 1997 - 2000
Occupation: Fashion Designer

Alexandra Owen has been described as a maverick designer committed to luxury with a vision outside trends – she has a style of making things that is singular in direction. Owen’s look is one of sophistication, a Hepburn-esque grace; it’s not crazy or overstated but it’s not understated either. Ally left High and studied at Massey University and worked as a sales assistant at Scotties Boutique where she produced a small range every year before launching her own label. She also learned about perfection and service. 2007’s New Zealand Fashion Week saw Ally arrive in Auckland alone and show a collection that dropped many a jaw with its masterful tailoring and breathtaking fabrics. As a result, she picked up a dozen wholesale accounts including the well-regarded ‘H Lorenzo’ boutique in Los Angeles. Owen is making her name by taking her time, ignoring trends and, perhaps, most controversially, sticking to a luxury-level price point. In March last year she showcased her clothes during NY Fashion week to global fashion giants and was immediately offered an exclusive deal with Elle. With a flagship store in Wellington and glowing reviews of every show since her breakthrough collection in 2007, she has asserted herself as the quiet achiever du jour on New Zealand’s fashion landscape.

Rebecca Taylor

Year: 1987 - 1988
Occupation: Fashion Designer

Rebecca’s Wikipedia entry says she went to St Catherine’s College, but like many Wellingtonians she came to High in the senior years so she could be creative and do fashion design. Rebecca Taylor arrived in NYC after graduating from the Wellington School of design, and has been designing her signature collection since 1996. The Rebecca Taylor collection is best known for providing the eternally evolving modern girl with fresh, feminine clothing to compliment and refine her individual sense of style. Through a series of collaborations and partnerships, the collection has grown to offer handbags, shoes, jewellery, eyewear, swim, and a “pink label” collection created exclusively for Rebecca Taylor retail stores. Rebecca Taylor is now distributed in over 40 countries, and 250 cities world-wide with celebrity clientele including Reese Witherspoon, Katherine Heigl, Rachel Bilson, Sarah Michelle Gellar, Nicole Richie, and Vanessa Hudgens, to name a few. The collection can be found globally in about 500 outposts including better contemporary boutiques, select department stores, leading e-commerce sites, and Rebecca Taylor retail stores in Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, and a flagship store in Manhattan’s NoLita. Rebecca is an avid supporter of the ASPCA and only uses ethical furs in her collections. She supports charities such as the Triple Negative Breast Cancer Foundation, the North Shore Animal League and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation, Over the past 13 years, Rebecca Taylor has been featured internationally in numerous leading publications such as Vogue, Harpers Bazaar, Elle, Marie Claire and In-Style.

Tandi Wright

Year: 1984 - 1988
Occupation: Actor

Tandi was a television and film actress and the grand-daughter of past principal Priestley. After graduating from Toi Whakaari, Tandi became Nurse Caroline Buxton in Shortland Street from 1996-1999 – Tandi is a prolific actor and has been in many NZ and Australian TV programmes and series which include: Being Eve (2001), Crash Palace, Atlantis High, Willy Nilly, Street Legal and Mercy Peak. In 2004 Wright found herself suffering various indignities on Seven Periods with Mr Gormsby. She played the kindhearted teacher who falls for the charms of hypocritical, egotistical counsellor Steve Mudgeway. Wright has also played small parts in a number of feature films, including the 1992 road movie Absent Without Leave to a role as a mad scientist, in the popular Black Sheep (2006). In 2006 Tandi Wright faced the “extraordinary challenge” of playing a mother caught up in the horrors of the Aramoana killings in Out of the Blue, for which she was nominated for best supporting actress in the 2008 NZ Film and TV Awards. In 2010, she played the role of Callie, the wife of the main character in This Is Not My Life, and as Mandy, Cheryl’s sister in Outrageous Fortune.

Tom Larkin & 1985-88 Jon Toogood

Year: 1986 - 1987
Occupation: Musicians – Shihad

Tom and Jon are the driving force behind the band Shihad. They showed musical promise from a young age and left school in 1988 with three songs already playing on the radio. Shihad have had phenomenal success and much of it can be attributed to hard work. Since 1988 they have played 1152 live performances all over the world. The band has released 9 albums beginning with Churn in 1993 to Ignite in 2010 and 34 singles from the Dogs are Talking in 1990 to ZM Live Lounge in 2008. Most of the band has been playing together since 1988 and this long established working relationship has helped to make Shihad a household name.