A lot of 17-year-olds can't wait to leave school _ but not Tachelle Reweti.
She has been so inspired by her teachers in her final year at Otumoetai College that she plans to become a teacher herself.
In fact she has already started her studies and will take two complete papers in te reo Maori with her to university next year.
She is also involved with kapa haka, touch rugby, a Maori sports leadership programme _ He Ara Tiki _ and is a mentor for Year 9 students starting school.
So it's no wonder Tachelle received the Supreme Award at the Otumoetai College Maori Achievement Awards this week. Teachers picked her from the about 280 Maori students at the college.
About 100 of the students turned out to the awards supported by whanau and friends.
"I didn't think I would get it," Tachelle said. "I guess I got it because I'm the `get involved with Maori culture girl'."
Speaking to the Bay of Plenty Times outside the college's wharenui yesterday, Tachelle said she wanted to change attitudes about Maori. ``That's one of the main things I want to change,' she said. ``People down us [Maori], they don't see the good things.' She said education was the key, which is why she planned to become a Maori teacher and one day work at the new Maori high school due to be built in Bethlehem by 2010. Tachelle, who speaks fluent te reo Maori, says there is a need for schools to help Maori students who have come from total immersion schools with their English skills. Head of the college's Maori Department, Ihaka Mathews, said Tachelle was honoured for her community involvement and academic success.
Maori culture driving force for pupil
By Cleo Fraser
By Cleo Fraser