Every year the Young Enterprise Scheme (YES) exposes some extraordinary entrepreneurial talent from one end of the country to the other, but none have shone brighter in 2017 that five Year 12 students at three Kaitaia schools.

Pepita (Pepi) Griffiths (Kaitaia College, chief sustainability officer), Maeana Panapa-Thurlby (Kaitaia Abundant Life School, marketing/media), Rawiri Manuera (Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Te Rangi Aniwaniwa, chief financial officer), Kahi Elliott (Te Rangi Aniwaniwa, operations, health and safety) and Eddie Naicovi (Te Rangi Aniwaniwa, advertising) will be in Wellington in December to receive one of 13 national awards.

They did not know what the award would be, YES chief excitement officer Terry Shubkin, who travelled from Wellington specifically for yesterday's trophy presentation at Te Rangi Aniwaniwa, said, but it would be "pretty special".

And to put their achievement into perspective, their award would be one of just 13 from an original field of 836 entries nationwide.


The students had established an oyster farm in Parengarenga Harbour (where 60,000 oysters would be ready for harvesting next winter), working with Moana Fisheries and the sustainability and ecological restoration training organisation Papa Taiao Earthcare.

Former Kaitaia College teacher Aaron McCloy, who was one of the Papa Taiao representatives at yesterday's presentation, said no other YES company had partnered with Moana Fisheries, or established an oyster business. "This is cutting edge," he said.

Lyndsay Elliott, the other member of Papa Taiao's Far North teaching team, agreed, adding that the four Year 12 students stood to make a handsome profit when their oysters were harvested and marketed, but cautioning them to resist the temptation to spend the money on clothes and "flash cars".