Former Waikanae resident and Paraparaumu College student David Cameron, 30, has won the Young New Zealander of the Year award.

David is the co-founder and CEO of LearnCoach which provides learning support to secondary and tertiary students.

Since 2012, David and his wife, co-founder Deborah Lambie, with the help of his brother and mother, have assisted thousands of students by creating and putting free video tutorials online to help students pass exams.

Growing up in Waikanae, David's schooling experience was not what you might expect from a qualified high school teacher and someone who runs a successful tutoring programme.


"In my first two years of college, I had 141 detentions.

"I wasn't trying to be a bad student, I even liked school.

"I had a lot of fun in class talking with friends.

"However, I wasn't so interested in the classwork or homework.

"I found it boring and didn't engage, which would frustrate my teachers and my parents."

After always receiving the comment 'not reaching his potential' from his teachers in his junior years, David faced failure in exams unless something changed.

"Nobody likes being a failure, even the worst students don't aspire to be failures."

Taking his education into his own hands, David learnt how to study on his own and started doing well in class.

"I started doing well in class and feeling successful was very motivating."

Always enjoying the social aspect of the classroom led David to become a high school teacher.

"I saw a lot of students who were just like me — disengaged and unmotivated.

"I thought that if I could show them how to thrive in their exams, then they might be motivated to do well in school as well.

"It started to work, extra tutorials and classes around exam time really made a difference but it was unsustainable for me as a teacher.

"If I wanted to spend 15 minutes with each of my students, it added to 25 hours in a day — an impossible task."

Consequently LearnCoach was created in 2012 as a way of helping multiple students at once, and in 2016 David started working on the idea fulltime.

"LearnCoach is an exciting example of how, with support, students embrace education and how technology can be used to break through time and geographic boundaries to reach the poorest and most remote areas."

Upon winning the award David said, "I was overjoyed, it was very special to win.

"Secondary education isn't seen as an exciting or novel thing, however it is a huge part of everyone's lives.

"The award ceremony was the fanciest event I have ever attended.

"There was a buzz of excitement as finalists and other well-known New Zealanders came together.

"It was an amazing time to get dressed up, enjoy our evening, and then celebrate a win at the end."

The next step for David is to turn LearnCoach from a teaching support into a full online school, enabling education in hard-to-reach places such as refugee camps, hospitals and rural communities at a fraction of the cost.

The New Zealander of the Year award went to Lower Hutt woman Kristine Bartlett who successfully secured equal pay legislation for caregivers in the aged-care sector, changing the lives of thousands of New Zealand women and low-paid workers.