At school, Kayla would have loved to have part-time work to help fund her sporting aspirations but, like many, she couldn’t fit a job around her hectic training regime.
In early 2008, the Auckland Girls' Grammar sixth-former faced another "can I, can't I" sporting dilemma as she pursued her dream of playing netball and basketball internationally this year. Selected in the NZ Secondary School netball team to go to Australia, Kayla had to find the mandatory $500 contribution by the end of that month.
"I had no clue how I was going to pay by then," said Kayla from a solo parent family and the second-youngest of seven children. "Mum is a solo parent and dad tries to help but it is not easy."
Vanessa & I provided the $500 required for Kayla to make the trip and very soon after she was selected for the NZ U21 Netball team. Kayla’s success was the catalyst for establishing the Hand Up Foundation.
At the end of 2009, Cullen was signed to play with the Northern Mystics in the ANZ Championship. In 2011 Kayla was named in the Silver Ferns for the series against England and Australia. Having overcome a serious leg injury in 2014, Kayla was one of the stars in last year’s World Championships played in Australia.
Siositina Hakeai also attended Auckland Girls Grammar. An outstanding athlete when we met her, Siositina was already the number one ranked discus thrower in NZ in her age-group, as well as being nationally ranked in the shot put discipline.
Since leaving school, she has been New Zealand leading women's discus champion. Siositina placed fourth in the women’s discus throw at the 2014 Commonwealth Games.