Nik Bruce-Smith – Wa Ako Guest Speaker

The Year 13s were addressed by Nik Bruce-Smith in Wa Ako last week. This was an opportunity to hear from a ex-student of Newlands College about their journey and hear some impressions and guidance from someone who used to be in their shoes. In 2006 Nik was Head Boy at Newlands College. Since then he studied at Victoria University, has traveled the globe and is now working at Chapman Tripp, and will soon move to London. On top of this he has achieved incredible success as a Comedian, performing in last year Comedy Gala alongside Rhys Darby and Urzila Carlson. The following capture some of the ideas he shared, but they are no means a complete summary of his inspirational talk.


Nik encourage the audience to constantly consider and reflect on two questions:

  • What matters to you ?
  • Why does it matter to you?

The answer to those two questions, Nik said, depended on three factors: 1.) Who you are (your situation); 2.) Who you want to become (your aspiration); and 3.) Where you ultimately wanted to end up (your destination).

He gave a range of examples and stories to support the importance of that kind of reflection and how the answers you give to those questions will change over time.  That is why, he said, it was important to constantly challenge yourself to reflect on those questions. He talked about how at school he had made an “acceptable amount of noise” and that it wasn’t until University where he began to find himself. Through reflecting on those questions he came to develop his sense of self.

The idea of being open to opportunities and having an open-minded attitude to change was strung regularly throughout his address. It was through being open to new things that lead Nik to try comedy at an open mic night. This led to paid gigs and having shows in the NZ Comedy Festival. Letting go of fixed ideas and assumptions mean that we are more open to opportunities.

One statement Nik finished on really stood out: “High School should not be the best years of your life”. He connected this to how at College you have a limited sense of control over what happens to you, and after leaving you have a completely different sense of control over your life. He also connected this to friendships: “there are three types of friends: friends for a reason, friends for a season, friends for life”. Nik is someone who met his closest friends after Newlands College. He made the point that by your 50th birthday party you should be able to look around and see all the friends for life that you have made.

His wide ranging talk appeared to strike a chord with a number of Y13s. To help unpack the ideas please feel free to approach any of the guidance team, and remember the hub of links to help support your career and transition thinking here.

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