Cora Wilding Memorial Award

Learn to sail, become a skydive instructor or even learn to fly a plane - whatever your personal goals are, this is your opportunity to get out there and do it.

The Cora Wilding Memorial Award is all about helping people reach their goals. The Award provides the opportunity for someone to participate in a personal development training course of their choice.

The award was established to perpetuate the memory of Cora Wilding, the founder of the Association. It comprises a subsidy (up to $3600) towards the cost of participation in a personal development training course, for a maximum of two individuals in any year. It also includes a free one year membership to YHA New Zealand.

Applications are now open and close 30 June 2015.

Click here for more information on the application process.


2014 Winners

In 2014 the Awards Committee have decided to grant this award to two people. Amy Platt will receive $2000 which will be used towards a Scientific Diver Course, and Scott Partridge was granted $1000 for his voyage on the Spirit of Adventure. 

Scott Partridge

Scott is a 16 year old student at Riccarton High School and has been given $1000 towards a 10 day Youth Development Voyage on the Spirit of New Zealand in January 2015. The following report was received from Scott when he returned from his voyage.

Scott Partridge 2I would really like to thank the Trustees of the Cora Wilding Memorial Award for their belief in me and their generous sponsorship enabling me to undertake this voyage.  Your support has meant the world to me. This is an account of my journey.

“The Voyagers” (as we are known) of 681, made up of 40 boys and girls between the ages of 15 and 18 years old,  met in Auckland prior to travelling to Opua in the Bay of Islands by bus where we boarded the Spirit of New Zealand.  We were about to start our 10 day adventure sailing from the Bay of Islands to Auckland City.

Spirit of AdventureOur days consisted of 6:30am starts when we did a warm-up on deck before jumping overboard for our morning “wash”. We swam alongside the ship climbing back up to the deck on either a rope ladder or cargo net. Following breakfast we presented the colours which involves raising the New Zealand Maritime Navy flag with the chiming of the ship’s bell. A really important part of our day is listening to the weather forecast for the area as this determines what the day ahead of us will be like, especially whether we will be able to raise all the sails.  Each day we were rostered around various sail stations which consisted of the fore deck (by the bow sprite), main sail, helm and aft deck. This gave us a really good opportunity to learn all about the different sails and their uses, as well as learning how to steer a ship, which is very different to steering a car. One of my favourite parts was climbing the main sail right to the very top – great view and very exciting, especially sailing along.

holeHighlights of our time in the Bay of Islands included taking part in a tall ship regatta racing against two other tall sailing ships (a tall ship is defined as having more than one mast) and jumping off the bow sprite which means about 7 metres of fall time before hitting the water. Another highlight was sailing past the famous “Hole in the Rock” and visiting the Poor Knights Islands. The Poor Knights Islands is a marine reserve and one of the world’s top ten dive sites. We swam in a cave which was created by the waves hollowing out underneath an old volcano. As we left the cave, we were lucky enough to see a huge school of John Dory fish as well as an amazing Sun fish.

Kawau IsalndAfter leaving the Bay of Islands we had a very long sail to Great Barrier Island via Aorangi Island, where we stopped off to climb to the top of Aorangi Island to visit the lighthouse up there. On Great Barrier Island we had another long nature trek viewing nearly the whole island, a simply amazing view.

Leaving Great Barrier Island we sailed back to Auckland via Kawau Island. Kawau Island is where one of New Zealand’s Governor’s, Sir George Grey, lived developing the island with a lot of special plants and animals. Kawau Island is now home to three special species of the sea bird, the Shag. At Kawau Island we learnt how to sail a lugger, a small one masted sailing boat. Not much fun when there is not a lot of wind but good for learning to sail.

My voyage on the Spirit of New Zealand was everything I wanted it to be and more! I learnt leadership skills, navigation, knot tying and sailing skills. I also learnt that I had the courage and skills to make my own way to the Auckland base of the Spirit of New Zealand without adult help. I made a large number of new friends. I found that I was able to really push my limits, especially when faced with a long, hot and strenuous trek on Great Barrier Island. I would definitely recommend this journey to anyone, it was a fantastic adventure and one that I will never forget.


In 2013 the Award also went to two people.

Marleen Baling of Auckland

In November 2013 Marleen Bailing attended the Australasian Wildlife Management (AWMS) Conference at Palmerston North. The conference included the main symposium on Advances in Australasian Reintroduction Biology 1993-2013, and it attracted 122 attendants from Australia, New Zealand, Canada, USA, UK and South Africa. It covered a variety of topics from novel techniques in conservation management, to updates on current research in wildlife reintroductions.

Marlene gave a talk about a project she had worked on with the Friends of Matakohe-Limestone Island. The conference ended with a group discussion on future direction for Australasian reintroduction biology. It was agreed that there should be another book published from this conference, and as one of the presenters, she will be contributing to a chapter of the book.

After the conference we received the following email from Marlene:
I would like to thank the Cora Wilding Memorial Award for such a great opportunity, which I would have not been able to do without their support. As this is the first time I have attended this Society’s conference I was amazed with the number of projects and variety of efforts that have been done in reintroduction biology, particularly overseas. I have personally grown a lot from this conference and especially learned much from one-on-one discussions with other attendees. I have also taken in many alternate perspectives on different topics raised in this conference and will apply them to existing and future projects I will be involved in.

Elise Janssen of Auckland

Elise attended the Outward Bound School Leaders course in January 2014. She was encouraged by the Dean of her School to attend this Outward Bound programme as the course has a unique focus on gaining the leadership skills required for active involvement and success in Year 13 leadership and making a positive contribution to society.

We received the following email from Elise when she returned from her adventure: Thank you so much for giving me the opportunity to go to Outward Bound with the help of the Cora Wilding Award. I loved the opportunity to meet lots of young people from all over New Zealand and to find ways to work together in such a fantastic outdoor environment. The course has given me real motivation, helped build my confidence and taught me various techniques and approaches that I will be able to use throughout my future experiences especially as a prefect and coach at my school this year.The course was an amazing 21 days that will not be forgotten.

2012 - Chapman Kutia from Gisborne

Chapman Kutia was awarded the grant in 2012 to attend the Mind Body & Soul course at Outward Board. In December we received the following letter from him.

Kia Ora It’s me Chapman!!

I have actually arrived to start my 21 day adventure in the Marlborough Sounds with Outward Bound. On my list of things to do was this note of thanks to the Cora Wilding Memorial Awards Committee. Your generous award was a significant amount and I am truly grateful that you have supported me to attend this amazing place!! With your help I have been able to come here to challenge myself and open my eyes to another world.I have a pretty jam packed few weeks coming up but it’s all good! I will be home just in time for Christmas, so I would like to wish each of you and your respective whanau an awesome Christmas and holiday time, with plenty of time to relax and chill out.So once again, thanks a whole lot for contributing towards this opportunity, I am really grateful.

Nga mihi nui - Chapman

2011 - Scott Dunn

Scott was a 16 years old when he was chosen by his school as an exchange student to Finland. The Awards Committee was particularly impressed with the hard work Scott had already put into fundraising towards the total costs of the exchange. They were delighted to award him the full $2500 that is the Cora Wilding Memorial Award, believing that his exchange aligns well with YHA's emphasis on youth travel and learning.

Scott travelled to Finland and enjoyed all the new experience that this opportunity provided. We were delighted to receive a letter from Scott shortly after arriving in Finland, here's what he had to say:

I feel very honoured and grateful to receive The Cora Wilding Award. I’m sure there were  many deserving applicants, and thank you very much as I am in Finland realising my dream as an exchange student. Even though my family is very supportive, we could not have financed this exchange ourselves so we are very grateful for your contribution.

I arrived on the 2nd of August after two days flying. I stopped off in Sydney, then again in Abu Dhabi, next stop over was in Frankfurt which is the biggest Airport in the world I think. I had to take a train to my next flight and then to Helsinki Finland.
I stayed the night in Helsi
nki with Y.U.F coordinators, then all the other exchange students arrived the next day. We all then went on an orientation camp for three days in Anjalankoskia, where we learnt what to expect as an exchange student and about Finland. After camp all the hosts arrived to pick up the exchange students. We left to start our exchanges in the places we will be living for the next eleven months. I am in Mikkeli with my host Father Mauno we are getting on well. I have two host sisters and a host brother.  This week I have met with my teachers at my new school and had a look around my new city.                     Scott Dunn


In 2010 this Award was granted to two people who both used their award to pay for part time tertiary study in 2011.

Michelle Payton

Michelle used her award to fund her first year of study for a  Diploma in Counselling. Michelle volunteers for Victim Support and the skills she will gain from this diploma will be applied immediately to assist the people she comes into contact with as a Support Worker.

Catherine Winfrey

Catherine has put her award towards the fees for a Postgraduate Diploma in Sign Language Interpreting. This course focuses on improving practical skills, with a strong focus on developing skills for interpreting in medical, legal, and educational settings. The better she is able to interpret the better access to information and services her clients will have.


Megan Hills, a 16 year old from New Plymouth, used her award to attend the Body, Mind and Soul course run by Outward Bound.