City teen going places in sport and tech arenas
Christchurch teen Halle Pitama is riding a rollercoaster as a sportswoman and fledgling entrepreneur.
The 13-year-old Haeata Community Campus student, one of the youngest players in the Canterbury Secondary Schools rugby team to win the South Island championships, has arrived in San Francisco for a Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) bootcamp in Silicon Valley.
‘‘It’s been a bit crazy,’’ Halle said.
Her selection for Silicon Valley came through a partnership of Nga¯i Tahu’s education arm Te Tapuae o Re¯hua with Callaghan Innovation and NZQA. The bootcamp seeks to inspire young Ma¯ori to transform themselves and their environment by risktaking and exploring.
The rigorous selection process included a video in which Halle outlined why she wanted to find ways to increase the use of te reo ma¯ori by young people in social media.
‘‘If you want to be fluent you need to be immersed in the language. Social media plays a huge part in that for young people but we only use English on Facebook or Instagram and that is what I hope to change,’’ said Halle.
Halle submitted a video of three-and-a-half minutes instead of the prescribed 30 seconds. The calculated risk paid off.
At the same time, she was also making waves on the rugby field. She switched from netball to rugby midway through the year and after only five games was invited to trial for the Canterbury Secondary Schools team.
‘‘I never thought of it as a game for girls but have really enjoyed playing rugby, even though I come from a league family’’ she said.
She is the daughter of former league representative Mathias Pitama and sister of Sheldon Pitama who last season captained the Junior Warriors.
Halle’s rapid rise in rugby was
‘‘It's been a bit crazy’’
assisted by her school coach Jesse Hansen, daughter of All Blacks coach Steve Hansen, who tipped off her sister Whitney, coach of the Canterbury Secondary Schools team. ‘‘I wouldn’t have been able to get this far so quickly without the amazing support I get at Haeata,’’ Halle said.
Halle impressed at the trials and was soon the youngest player in the team lining up in the front row against 17 and 18-year-olds. Canterbury won the final against a Hanan Shield selection 21-19.
Christchurch teen Halle Pitama.