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Hannah Leach: change maker and human rights advocate

Hannah Leach may have just completed Year 13, but she’s already rallying for global change.


The dedicated teen was ACG Sunderland’s ambassador for the Auckland Model United Nations event, she’s a passionate political advocate, and she considers Chloe Swarbrick and Jacinda Ardern among her greatest inspirations.

“I’m so interested in helping others particularly through criminal justice and law reform,” says Hannah, who will soon begin a degree in law and political studies at the University of Canterbury.

“Over the past few years, I’ve become more involved with human rights through the Auckland Model UN and that truly opened my eyes to the issues around the world. I’m excited to learn more about political history and law – the inequalities in New Zealand are so heavily affected by our laws and criminal justice systems, and that needs to change. I’m very eager to understand more and make a difference.”

Although Hannah was offered a scholarship from another New Zealand university, she found the outstanding reputation of Canterbury University’s law school too hard to resist.

“As well as this, Canterbury just felt right for me! It’s a nice compact university, not as far away from family, and it’s great for skiing and surfing, both of which I love.”

Her new home? College House, New Zealand’s oldest hall of residence.

“It’s a great hall as it offers lots of extracurricular activities like ski trips and cultural exchanges, great student support, private tutoring, and formal dinners three nights a week where we have to wear formal attire. It’s very traditional! This is where I’m going to make friends for life and I couldn’t be more excited.”

Filled with confidence thanks to her years at ACG Sunderland, Hannah has no doubt she will take the transition into tertiary study in her stride.

“I feel very ready for university. Sunderland is an environment that you can thrive in academically – my teachers provided me with the foundations to excel and it is a huge motivator to have your friends encourage you to maintain your study plans in order to reach success.

“The opportunity to be trusted with study periods over the last three years has taught me how to spend my spare time effectively. Thanks to ACG, I know how to study and feel confident in an exam room.”

But exemplary study skills are not all Hannah gained from ACG Sunderland. As House Captain of Findlay in 2020, and head of the ball committee in 2019, she developed her leadership skills, honed her organisational and event planning skills, and created lifelong memories.

“The connections I’ve made at Sunderland will stay in my heart forever, as will the lessons I’ve learnt of perseverance and endurance. Through the demanding nature of Sunderland academics, staying on top of my workload – as well as extracurricular activities – has been a challenge. However, it has taught me invaluable lessons. I’ve been at ACG Sunderland since I was eight years old and I’m so grateful for that experience and all the opportunities the school has given me, both academically and socially.”