The story of The Rose of Tralee

2016 PBT New Zealand Rose of Tralee

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The young women of Irish birth or descent listed below will be vying for the honour of being the 2017 PBT New Zealand Rose of Tralee, to succeed Hannah Greally, the 2016 New Zealand Rose of Tralee.

The Roses:

Sinead Fitzgerald, representing the Auckland Irish SocietySinead Simpson Fitzgerald - Auckland

Sinead is a 22-year-old actor. She completed a Bachelor of Arts degreee majoring in Theatre Studies in 2016.

Sinead's Irish connection stems from her great-grandmother, who came from a small town called Ballydesmond which straddles the boundary between Kerry and Cork.

She lists "Singing, acting and performing" as her particular likes, but also Martial arts, in which she has a "Black belt in Karate".

Sinead has ambitions that encompass screenplay writing, and says with the performing arts world she wants to "expand the roles that woman are presented with and hopefully write some new ones".

She says that she has "always been fiercely proud of my Irish heritage and being able to represent both my cultures [at the International Rose Festival] would be an amazing feat."

Jenna O'Sullivan, representing the Waikato Irish ClubJenna O'Sullivan - Waikato

Jenna O'Sullivan is a 24-year-old Feild Consultant, for a diary genetics company. With a Bachelor's degree in Agri-commerce from Massey University, she says that her current role provides her with great job satisfaction.

Her Irish connection comes from her great great grandparents who were both from Castletownbeare, Co Cork. She also spent close to a year living in Ireland as part of her "OE". And since moving to the Waikato has been involved with the local GAA club.

Jenna says she loves being outdoors, playing sport with a strong netballing background and more recently enjoy the challenge of learning to play GAA and also loves being out on the farm.

When asked about herself, she lists a "Willingness to step outside my comfort zone, and a positive fun attitude" as key attributes she brings to whatever she tackles.

Jenna plans to "Keep travelling - with the aim to leave the country at least once every year". High amongst her priorities are becoming establised in her job and never stop challenging herself."

Niamh O'Sullivan, representing the Taranaki Irish ClubNiamh O'Sullivan - Taranaki

Niamh O'Sullivan is a 26-year-old Paediatric Dietitian. She says that she loves working with the children and their families, and gets great job satisfaction from her work.

Niamh is Irish-born, and she and her parents hail from Cork. She has been in Taranaki for a year.

She says "I could ramble on and on about how much I have loved my year in Taranaki." In particular she cites being 5 minutes from the beach in Fitzroy as a special pleasure, as are her her boyfriend's family who have "welcomed me with open arms and been my family away from home which has meant the world to me."

"Beyoncé Knowles has been my idol since I was old enough to sing her songs. ... I was lucky to grow up with a woman singing about independence and making your own way in the world. I learnt to literally "pay my bills" and not to depend on anything but my own hard work. If I met her I would have to thank her for the profound positive influence she had on my in my teenage years."

Niamh says she like chocolate, laughing and dancing. She also misses her family.

Skye Chadwick, representing the Hutt Valley Irish SocietySkye Chadwick - Hutt Valley

Skye is a 25 year-old who gives her occupation as "Social Entrepreneur and musician". She is currently helping develop a facility for the residential care of adults with intellectual disabilities as a co-founder of the Hearth Trust.

She has travelled a lot, having lived in 18 different countries, and was co-winner of the Young Wellingtonian of the Year in 2015.

Skye says she is just at the beginning of discovering her Irish background, and has already uncovered fascinating stories about some of her forebears, who came from Co Clare & Co Meath.

For relaxation Skye loves bicycling, hiking and spending time in the bush, and dancing. But especially, playing her violin. She says "I started playing the piano and violin when I was six and music has always been a huge part of my life."

Eden Kavanagh, representing WellingtonEden Kavanagh - Wellington Irish Society

22 year-old Eden is currently a service worker in hospitality while she moves to the next phase of her career as a professional singer.

Her father is Irish, while her mother is a Kiwi, so Eden has spent part of her life living and studying in Ireland (Bray, Co Wicklow). She now lives in Wellington, where she completed a Bachelors' degree in Performing Arts.

Eden loves to sing, dance, and act - musical theatre is her passion. But she also enjoys painting and drawing, portraits in particular.

She says that "I enjoy Wellington for its good atmosphere" and that her "bubbly personality will bring a fun aspect to the Rose [as] I enjoy meeting and connecting with people."

Olivia Hughes, representing the Canterbury Irish SocietyOlivia Hughes - Canterbury

Olivia is a 26-year-old personal trainer. She sees this as her future career.

She moved to Ireland (Cavan) from Luton, England when she was 8 years old. She points out that her paternal grandfather is from Co Mayo, and her father's mother is from Connemara, Galway. Her mother's family is from Cavan. She completed her tertiary studies at Dublin City University, a BA HONS in Contemporary culture and society.

A lover of the outdoors, Olivia says "The scenery of Christchurch is also stunning. We have gorgeous walking tracks, great beaches and amazing ski slopes. What's not to love!"

When not enjoying the outdoors, she also volunteers for two local charities, Radio Lollipop which provides care, comfort and play for children in hospital, and Camp Quality Christchurch which is a charity for children living with cancer.

Olivia also confesses that although a terrible player, she is "involved with one of the local GAA clubs, Waimak Gaels, by helping to organise and participate in fundraisers, and previously have been registrar of the club."

Sommer O'Shea, representing the Otago Irish Society.Sommer O'Shea - Otago

Sommer is a 22-year-old Exercise Consultant in Cancer Recovery.

Sommer's grand-father is from County Wexford, the small town of Adamstown. He come out in 1956 on the Captain Cook and landed in Wellington.

She says "I absolutely love my family and friends. I has a younger sister who has a condition called CHARGE Syndrome. She has shaped our family to make us more understanding, given us all more patience and taught us how to share our time more." But, by contrast, she also likes old cars. "My father and I rebuilt up a 1945 Chev pick up which I enjoy taking to shows and going for drives."

But her life isn't all about family or old cars. "I get joy out of helping with people going through a really tough time. Exercising during treatment and after cancer treatment really gives the clients a purpose and something at their own terms."

She finds Adele in inspirational figure, "not due to her singing career but because of her real down to earth and true personality. I also love how she loves her family and how she enjoys quite nights in."

Brooke Thompson, representing the Southland Irish Society.Brooke Thompson - Invercargill

Brooke is a 19-year-old working in the hospitality industry while studying pre-certificate health science at SIT. Her ambition is to go on to further medical education.

Brooke's great-great-great grandfather was John Francis Cavanagh, born in Annaghdown, Co Galway. He and his brother came to Otago for the gold rush.

Invercargill born-and-bred, Brooke nonetheless spent a year living in Chile, and so speaks Spanish. She has also spent time volunteering in an orphanage in Laos over the past two years.

Brooke says she would like to meet Angela Merkel beacause she is a wonderful women who is the leader of arguably the strongest country in Europe.