Andrew Parsonage and Saskia Van Waaijenburg

1991 to 1995

The story of a school day romance.  These two have been together since early on in their school days and both have accomplished so very much.

Andrew was one of the “clever” Parsonage clan.  Brothers, Mark, Matthew, Scott and sister Kylie have all left their mark on the school’s honours boards.  If not in the Dux and Proxime positions, then you will find their names on the sport’s honours boards – or in most cases, on both.

The Parsonage’s were all incredibly talented sports people and held titles in badminton, tennis, swimming, athletics and cross country and the four boys were all members of the 1st XI Soccer and Kylie the A netball team.

Saskia was fully involved in school life.  She was a member of the school council, took part in school productions and speech competitions, played hockey and netball and was a swimmer.

Andrew was joint Dux in 1995 (with Debbie Rea), attained an “A” Bursary, five scholarships and went on to study at Waikato University.  Andrew graduated with a Bachelor of Management Studies (1st class honours) in Economics and Finance and a Master of Management Studies (with distinction).

Saskia wasn’t frightened of hard work.  While she was studying for her BA in which she  gained 1st class honours in History and German, she did secretarial work and home help to fund her through her university years.  Saskia also worked for Flight Centre for seven years where she won top consultant for the Great Holiday Escape brand and their shop won numerous awards and travel prizes.  Saskia also graduated with a Graduate Diploma in Secondary Education.

Andrew is currently a Vice President in Investment Banking, having worked for the past 12 years for First NZ Capital, one of New Zealand’s leading finance houses.  First NZ Capital was previously the New Zealand arm of Wall Street based investment bank, Credit Suisse First Boston.  Throughout his career, Andrew has advised many of New Zealand’s largest companies including on over $6 billion of mergers and acquisitions and $4 billion of capital raisings.

While this all sounds like work, work and more work, Saskia and Andrew have found time for travel.  Saskia has travelled extensively, having clocked up adventures in 95 different countries to date.  Her ultimate goal is to travel to every country in the world!  Her short-term goal is 100 countries by the time she is 40 – with five years to go, this is looking eminently achievable.

While not in the same league as Saskia, Andrew has travelled to 37 different countries, with highlights being the history and culture of Italy, the beaches of Normandy, Switzerland (banking, cheese and chocolate – what’s not to love?) and a glimpse behind the iron curtain of communist Cuba.

Together Saskia and Andrew won the title of “World’s Greatest Travellers” earlier this year (2012) after competing in a worldwide scavenger hunt where they completed as many tasks as possible across 11 countries during a three week period.  Competing against seasoned travellers from all around the world, including the defending champions from America who had been the winners for three years running, they emerged victorious after a tense three day race across Europe in the penultimate leg, where they started in Rome and were required to meet in Prague three days later, but having to complete tasks in Slovenia and Austria along the way.  They will now try to defend their title in 2013!

Saskia is currently working as the Year 12 Level Co-ordinator at Massey High School, (one of the largest schools in NZ) teaching History and Social Studies and is the Social Sciences GATS Co-ordinator.  Another big adventure is in her future plans, but at the moment she keeps herself busy writing pieces for Geckos Adventures and writing her own blog – on top of her teaching job.

Andrew continues to enjoy the challenge of the financial markets, balanced against his interest in football and travel.  Of course there is also the small matter of their world title to defend!

They have a beautiful boy called Chairman Mao, OK he is a cat, but definitely part of the family!