Kate Redpath was named dux at Inglewood High School's prizegiving last week.
She says the award ''was both a surprise and not'' as she and her friends had estimated how many points she had but weren't sure if she would ''get it or runner-up''.
Kate went to Norfolk Primary before Inglewood High School, and says she ''absolutely loved'' her time there.
''I have lived in the same house on a farm out of Inglewood my whole life,'' she says, living with her parents, twin sister Toni and younger brothers George and Jack, ''who are everything little brothers should be-both good and bad''.
Kate plans to become a teacher, something she says is inspired by her history teacher at Inglewood, Luke Roborough.
''His advice over the years wasn't restricted to the classroom. He motivated me to become a teacher because I wanted to help others in the same way he helped me.''
Kate is heading to Victoria University in the new year to ''do a BAin history, geography and English''.
Asked what some of her best moments at Inglewood were, Kate says going to Vietnam for a history and geography trip was ''amazing''.
''We experienced a completely different culture and had so much fun doing it.''
Kate comments that her geography teacher, Cherie Petrowski, made her lessons a lot of fun.
''You never get good marks if you can't enjoy the subject and she made level two and three geography so much fun.''
Another defining experience for Kate has been attending the Taranaki Outdoor Pursuits and Education Centre (TOpec) in New Plymouth during Year 10.
"I came out of it more independent and better at doing things on my own - which doesn't happen often when you're a twin."
Kate says she hates studying but manages to motivate herself to "knuckle down and do it" in time.
Admitting she has a bad habit of studying hard for her favourite subjects at the expense of the others, she says she tried to start early for the final exams in order to make sure she got it done.
Kate worked as a waitress at the start of the year and is hoping to find a similar job over the summer holiday before she leaves for university as she says she "absolutely loved the job".
Asked to offer advice to the students about to start their school career at Inglewood in the new year, Kate says "make the most of every experience on offer.
"If you don't you'll definitely look back with regret."
While Kate says she is ready for the next stage of her academic life, she describes Inglewood High School as "a truly amazing school which provides so many opportunities".