For a year, journalists from the Herald followed students from Papakura High School to find out what life was like in an underprivileged school.

One of the organisations helping the students was The Rising Foundation, led by former Fisher & Paykel Appliances boss John Bongard.

The charity mentors students from before they begin high school through to university. It aims to help lift educational achievement by helping students gain confidence and life-skills.

Bongard, who was brought up in Papakura, said he began the charity to help those who "weren't as lucky" as he was.

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"A lot of families in Papakura are feeling the economic crunch more than people living in Remuera," he says.

"But you've got to understand the communities are no less caring. Arguably they're more caring because they've got to work harder at it."

He said the goal was to ensure students had opportunities just like those in more affluent communities.

"It's a hand up not a hand out. It's just about unlocking the potential. And they fly. They fly as high as anyone else."

Read more about The Rising Foundation here.