Josie Conijn is a year 13 student at Tawa College and is this year's head girl (2009). She is one of the many "fine examples" of young people living in Tawa, although once she leaves school at the end of this year, she is likely to be training elsewhere*. In the course of this interview she happened to mention that one of her fellow students in her very early school days way down in Mosgiel was a certain Daniel Kleinsman who is now head boy at Tawa College at the same time that Josie is head girl!
In her leadership role at the College Josie has ongoing opportunities to speak in public, and a big upcoming occasion is Tawa College's academic prizegiving in November at which she will be giving a speech as head student.
"Josie is an excellent role model who leads by example," says Murray Lucas, her principal. "Her organisation of key school events has been quite outstanding."
Where were you born, Josie?
Where did you grow up?
In Mosgiel [near Dunedin]. At age 8 my family moved to Tawa.
What schools have you been at?
Went to St Mary's School in Mosgiel, the same school as Daniel [as explained in the introduction above - Ed.] All of years 5 & 6 I was at St Francis Xavier in Tawa. Years 7 & 8 at Tawa Intermediate, then to Tawa College.
What subjects are you doing this year at college?
Calculus, statistics, biology, P.E. & physics.
What are you hoping to do when you leave school?
Hoping to go into the Air Force* - been thinking about it since I went to an Expo at the end of last year. I'll be hearing very shortly whether they've given me a university scholarship to be an officer. The initial training will be at Blenheim for three months, and then probably at Ohakea.
What does being a head student actually involve, any particular responsibilities?
For me personally, my main aim has been putting on events which include juniors and seniors, to encourage the seniors to be seen as role models and to create friendlier relationships between seniors and juniors at school - like the 24-hour Survivor Challenge which helped towards raising around $17,000 for the World Vision Famine; also tabloid sports, etc.
My duties include attending events like the Anzac Day parade in Tawa, reading in assembly, attending prizegivings, representing the school at the likes of the recent funeral of the foundation principal, putting on school events and generally being a role model.
What about family?
Live at home with an older sister, a younger brother and my parents. We have a dog Otis - a Sydney silky terrier X.
What are your interests/hobbies?
In the school volleyball team, part of the running team, and I coach gymnastics at the new arena in Porirua, 5-13 year olds - three levels of ability, a general group, a development group, plus a competition squad.
What do you like about Tawa?
I've got to know lots of people at school - it's the sort of community and school where it's easy to do that.
What, if anything, would improve Tawa?
The weather [it was dull outside at the time and starting to rain - Ed.] And possibly doing something about the graffiti. "It brings the place down a little bit."
What is your favourite dessert?
Favourite sports team and/or sportsperson?
When I was coaching gymnastics, the All Blacks came into the arena one day. I'm not a big fan of the rugby, but being able to meet them did boost my interest in them. I suppose every New Zealander likes the All Blacks. Richie McCaw was one of the friendliest. And I do sit down and watch Bathurst [a 1,000-kilometre touring car race held annually at Mount Panorama Circuit in Bathurst, New South Wales - Wikipedia].
Favourite musical group and/or style of music?
Probably Kings of Leon, that sort of style of music [for those of an earlier generation, they're an American rock band formed in Nashville, Tennessee in 1999, according to Wikipedia - Ed.]
Favourite holiday destination in New Zealand?
"Anywhere with a beach is good." My family has a camper van. We've been on quite a few epic holidays. Also Central Otago. Did part of the rail trail on a horse, and walked to the base of Mt Cook. Got very sunburnt and a sore backside after that. Probably a long time before I'll be riding a horse again.
Favourite quote or saying?
"All that we need to make us really happy in life is something to be enthusiastic about."
If you could meet any two or three people (alive or dead), who would they be?
What two or three things would you take with you if you were stuck on a desert island?
Dressing gown (for comfort), some sort of music player, and probably a pet for company.
What is one talent you would like that you do not have?
Probably want the ability to be amazing at some sort of musical instrument without having to practise, probably the piano (I used to learn the piano) or maybe the guitar.
What is one talent you have that you could not do without?
Being able to talk to communicate well with people, it definitely comes in handy with being a coach where something I say can help a child to do something cool.
Any accomplishments/achievements in your life (to date) that give you much satisfaction/pride?
Getting as far as I have with the Air Force selection process. From 1000 applicants they've wheedled it down to a very small number. I won't become a pilot because I failed the coordination test. However because of my "strong file" they are possibly offering me a university scholarship.
Also being selected for head girl of Tawa College.
What are two or three things you would like to achieve in the years ahead?
Probably like to go all the way up Mt Cook one day.
I want to have my future set with the Air Force, either as an officer or in a general trade or something like that.
In November 2010 Josie reported:
"Once finishing my exams and having a break over the summer holidays [2009-10] I worked at OPSM [optometrists] while waiting to hear about my application into the Air Force. In April I finally found out that I had gotten in as an intelligence specialist. This meant that on 1 June I went to Blenheim for my 3 months of basic training, i.e. recruit course. This was quite hard work but very rewarding. I graduated from this on 27 August and have been based in Auckland ever since doing on-the-job training.
In my free time I have gone skydiving and have kept up running for the base, and am going to interbase running champs in Wellington this week."