We are delighted to announce the 2017 recipients for
The Michael Barnett Scholarship.

Rikki Swannell

The last year has been one of gamble, ambition and reward for Rikki Swannell.

Having given up a coveted role as head of sport at Radio Sport and Newstalk ZB, Rikki moved into a contracting role with Sky TV to allow her to be open to opportunities within Sky but also to allow herself time to pursue roles in media leadership, governance and administration.

She immediately put The Michael Barnett Scholarship to good use for this purpose by attending a ‘leadership and governance in sports media’ conference in Australia.

“Having made the gamble to move into freelancing, this conference really increased my confidence and awareness of the valuable transferable skills I have to offer the sports industry ‐ beyond my sports writing and commentating,” says Rikki.

Her scholarship application mentioned her intention for it to support the next phase of her career.

Well, that career received a well‐deserved boost earlier this year when Rikki was announced as Sky TV's first female Super Rugby play‐by‐play commentator. It was ground breaking stuff for Rikki who has now commentated on sports ranging from cricket to the winter Olympics.

Although Rikki knows it’s ‘newsworthy’ being the first woman to land a SKY TV rugby commentary role within a heavily male‐dominated industry, she also wants to shift the focus of her achievements away from the gender angle.

"I want to be thought of as a good sports broadcaster, not ‘just’ a good female broadcaster.”

Beyond this goal, Rikki has focussed ambitions ‐ and renewed confidence ‐ in knowing she has skills and expertise for sports governance and administration. She is already on a board that offers mentoring programmes to empower and promote women into sports media.

Rikki’s love of sport and story‐telling is what inspired her into journalism, and in the last year since being awarded The Michael Barnett Scholarship she has continued to make great strides in writing a very special story of her own.

Michael’s comments:
A multi‐skilled, experienced radio and TV broadcaster, looking to share stories beyond the scoreboard and groin strains.


Olivia Bennett 

Olivia’s application for The Michael Barnett Scholarship spoke about enabling herself to be extended as a leader and help others to do the same.

There’s no doubt Olivia has extended herself in the ensuing year.

Olivia had a goal to enhance communication between the aspiring businesswomen of tomorrow and lead her own not-for-profit business venture. So she established herTeam - a project connecting young women interested in business and politics with professional female mentors in those fields.

“I established this organisation after realising that business and politics were male-dominated fields, and that very few mentoring opportunities existed for women my age,” she says.

The inaugural herTeam conference was a great success, attracting speakers of the calibre of the US Consul General in New Zealand, Melanie Higgins, and PR consultant, Michelle Boag.

Olivia’s goal for extension then received an unexpected, but fully deserving boost when she was awarded a further scholarship - the Sir Douglas Myers scholarship to study at Cambridge University in England.

Eighteen-year-old Olivia will study economics at Gonville and Caius College when she takes up the scholarship later this year.

“Economics will equip me to work in successful and challenging corporations in my future career. It will also assist in my ultimate aim to establish and run a profitable social enterprise.”

Olivia completed her school years at St Cuthbert’s college last year as Dux, topping her school in history, physics and statistics. She also completed a university paper in calculus at the University of Auckland, while completing eight scholarship papers as well as being highly commended in the National Monetary Policy Challenge as governor of her school Reserve Bank team.

Michael’s comments:
Communication and connectivity are key goals for this highly awarded teenager


• View 2019 Scholarship recipients
View 2018 Scholarship recipients