Bex Waddell - OC of the Month January 2022
Monday, 31 January 2022

For our January interview we talk to Old Collegian Bex Waddell (Middlemore 1986/87) about her memories of King’s, at a time when girls were still a relatively new thing to the College, and her latest project Whale Tales art trail

Over the past year Bex has been busy managing and bringing to life Whale Tales 2022, which is the largest Auckland public art trail since the Covid pandemic began. 

Whale Tales 2022 art trail features approximately 80 individually designed large ‘whale tails’ by artists and 90 pepe 'whale tails' by schools, which will be placed throughout Auckland in parks, streets, and open spaces for 12 weeks. Whale Tales is open now and runs until 18 April 2022. Once the trail closes, the sculptures will be auctioned on May 2nd, and the proceeds will go towards WWF-New Zealand’s vital work to protect and restore our ocean.

You can read more on Whale Tales and find out where to view each of them here:

When you were at King’s College, what did you want to do for a career after you graduated?

I actually had no idea. I received a career assessment that said I should stay away from building industry; police could work and perhaps business management.

• What is your best memory of your time at King’s College?  

There are a lot of good memories but my first year was the best, 1986 - because every experience was new.

It was a nerve-wracking decision making the leap into a co-ed environment from my life as a boarder at Auckland Dio. However, having 2 younger brothers I felt confident I could give as much as I got. 

I remember thinking Middlemore Lodge accommodation was flash and I also loved going to the ice-cream shop nearby in Otahuhu for massive ice-creams. 

The girls absolutely stuck out, being the minority, as it was early days for girls being enrolled at the College, but this didn't bother me. Swimming was a big thing for me at the time and so I was more than happy to compete against anyone in finals. I remember I did race the lads in a few races which was awesome!

Perhaps the oddest moment I recall was having to dress up in tinfoil and be lifted by a crane to light some torch for the marking of a special year. Fortunately, there was a storm that night, so my moment of tinfoil fame never eventuated.

• Which staff member do you remember most favourably from King's College and why?

Tony Robinson and Ian Campbell. Tony because he was just a really nice guy and Ian Campbell because he let me into the school - lol. I also remember the kitchen staff – they were amazing.

• What advice would you give to your school age self?

Be kind to yourself. Your mental health is just as important as your physical health. And beware of the menopause fairy.

• Tell us about yourself now and what you do for a career?

I'd say I'm a strategic marketing freestyler. I think big and believe anything’s possible. 
Having ticked off everything in my bucket list work wise I'm now focusing on projects that mean something to me and are for the greater good of humanity & nature.

I am currently working as Marketing Manager for WWF-New Zealand, and for the Whale Tales 2022 project my role has been incredibly wide ranging (which is what I love) and all about raising funds for WWF-New Zealand to support the work they do in restoring the Hauraki Gulf and protecting the Threatened Bryde’s Whales. 

• What does/did your job involve?    

Everything!  Ultimately, it's about people - developing and maintaining business to business relationships for the greater good. 

The Whale Tail sculpture trail opened on the 24th of January and features approximately 80 individually artist designed whale tails and 90 ‘pepe’ whale tails by schools, which are placed throughout Auckland in parks, streets, and open spaces. It will run for 12 weeks until April 2022 and will hopefully help to create awareness on the plight of the Hauraki Gulf’s special Bryde’s (Broo-dus) Whale. These whales are now critically endangered with fewer than 250 of them known to remain. They feed and rest close to the surface, making them vulnerable to ship strikes, noise pollution, reductions in habitat, climate change, unsustainable fishing practices, and other human activities in the ocean.
In conjunction with the Whale Tail sculpture walk an app has been launched, with pedometer included, this allows anyone using the app to locate and visit the tails. The app also features access to a ‘tale’ to go with each Whale tail. The ‘tales’ have been researched and written by local New Zealand historians and wildlife experts.

• What are the most challenging parts of your job?

Delivering the largest public arts trail Auckland has seen post Covid, during a pandemic. 

• What would you say is your biggest achievement to date?

Living in the present and being true to myself. 

• What is the single thing that would most improve the quality of your life?

Removing war on humans and nature. 

• What are the three objects you would take with you to a desert island?

Chocolate, fully kitted Nespresso machine, one pair of thunderpants. 

• How would you like to be remembered?

Bit of a Unicorn. Big heart. Authentic