Pulling a 22-tonne fire truck down Fenton St was the culmination of eight weeks of hard slog, sweat and tears for 21 Rotorua Lakes High School students.

The students, from years 10 to 13, were completing their Longest Day challenge to mark the end of the Cactus programme, run in conjunction with the Rotorua police.

Nine hours of gruelling physical and mental challenges lay ahead when they began at 6am on a beautiful Saturday morning.

Te Kura Karakia (left) helps pull the fire truck with deputy head boy Tamaho Stiles. Photo / Haana Howard
Te Kura Karakia (left) helps pull the fire truck with deputy head boy Tamaho Stiles. Photo / Haana Howard

Every one of the students completed the day and reached their ultimate goal of graduating that evening.

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Cactus is a programme designed to push youth in Rotorua to achieve their goals and test their limits. Students train physically and mentally before school three days a week during an eight week period.

Five staff from Rotorua Lakes High School, along with the police, mentored, encouraged and motivated students to achieve goals they previously thought they would not achieve.

Deputy head boy Tamaho Stiles said one of the important lessons he came away with was "no matter how hard it gets, just be happy to be there, and you will get through it fine".

Teacher Alana Sincock said she was so proud to see the way students worked together to complete the challenge.

"They are an inspiration to us all and so much can be learned from students like this. To see them so far outside their comfort zone and succeeding is amazing."Submitted by Rotorua Lakes High School

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