The achievements and ambitions of 12 outstanding young Year 13 students were celebrated at the Spirit of Napier Lions Young Achievements Awards recently before an audience which naturally included many very proud parents and families.

It was the seventh year the awards had been staged by the Spirit of Napier Lions and took place at the Municipal Theatre's Pan Pac Foyer as the traditional Napier City Council venue was not available due to the recent earthquake risk engineering reports which made it off limits.

"This is an event we are proud to be involved with as it is great to be able to show youth in a positive way instead of the negative remarks often associated with the youth of today," Young Achievers sub-committee member Mary McGhie said.

The driving aim of the now annual awards was to promote the positive influence today's youth has on our society through acknowledging and promoting their achievements to the wider community.


Selection is based on well rounded Year 13 students who are excellent role models, and have achieved beyond expectation in one or more fields of endeavour - be they academic or non academic.

The 12 students were drawn from Napier Boy's High School (2), Napier Girls' High School (2), Taradale High School (2), William Colenso College (2), and one each from Sacred Heart College, Taradale High School, Fairhaven School and Hohepa School.

It was the first time students from both Fairhaven and Hohepa had been called forward on the same night.

Bridge Pa School principal Rebecca Skerman, who is the youngest appointed school principal in the country, was guest speaker and encouraged the students to maintain their motivations and aims, and to strive for high achievements and take the advantages which would pop up during their lives.

Napier Mayor Bill Dalton and MP Stuart Nash also spoke to the gathering.

Each student was asked to give a speech about their schooling and aspirations, and Spirit of Lions member Glenys Alexander said it was exciting and inspiring to hear them talk about their ambitions.

There was special praise for Blair Appleby from Fairhaven School and Georgia Biggans who is in her final year at Hohepa School.

Blair had worked hard at learning to manage his personal health alongside achieving academically and has been heavily involved in conservation programmes as well as supporting younger students - he plans to study at EIT next year.

Georgia was described as having grown into a confident young woman who possessed a strong willingness to make a positive contribution to the community.

She had been showing increased ability in helping staff in the younger classes of the school.

Connor Beere, head boy of Taradale High School, had shown great skills in leadership and his involvement with Scouting has seen him presented with the Chief Scout Award.

He wants to take part in the Outward Bound development course, having been on the Spirit of Adventure twice, and his long-term aim is to study commerce at university.

Sacred Heart College head girl Bridgette Petrie has become acclaimed for her speaking and debating skills and has also excelled in the sports field, both playing and coaching.

She has picked up awards for both and next year is planning to head to Canterbury University to study engineering.

Lennox Winitana is deputy head girl of William Colenso College and is a staff sergeant with the City of Napier Cadet Unit where she has excelled in developing leadership skills.

She is also notable for both sporting and debating skills and is a member of the Tu Ake Youth Academy which focuses on helping youg people overcome mental issues and to achieve their potential in everyday life.

Her long-term aim is to work in the armed forces.

William Colenso College head girl Tala Utumapu is the student representative of the Board of Trustees and last year was a cultural and house leader.

She plays a wide range of sports and has been involved in working with younger students, including coaching and involvement as a youth leader in her church.

Tala is looking to attend EIT to start a degree in social work.

Tayla Le Quesne is deputy head girl at Taradale High School and is a Peer Support Leader.

She steered the setting up of a Taradale Council comprised with representatives of all the primary and intermediate schools in Taradale.

Tayla has shown a passion for both dance and sport and was recently involved in The Stage Challenge.

Interested in technology, she was also runner-up in the National App Invention Competition for girls staged in Auckland, and she plans to study for a Bachelor of Management majoring in IT at Waikato University next year.

Bruin Maunder from Taradale High School is the Head of Arts and a peer support leader, and was last year named Sportsman of the Year.

He has picked up national swimming medals for breaststroke and has also received acclaim for his singing skills - playing a lead role in Fiddler on the Roof.

His ambition is to train to become a teacher.

Napier Boys' High School deputy head boy Nathan Giles has been awarded academic colours for two years and gained General Excellence awards in Year 10 and Year 12.

He has excelled in athletics and rugby and is in the Hurricanes U17s.

His schoolmate Adam Winter is a prefect who on the sports front has excelled in golf and cricket, having finished 16th overall in golf's under-19 competition and in cricket has represented Hawke's Bay at under-17 level.

Adam achieved NCEA Excellence Endorsements and next year plans to study either commerce or agribusiness.

Napier Girls' High School deputy head prefect Rose Joyce is planning to study law and arts at university next year.

She is passionate about music and is part of the school orchestra as well as being involved in choral music, and has competed regionally and nationally for choir, barbershop and Rockquest, gaining awards in all three.

Her skills in rowing had seen her gain gold, silver and bronze medals in the North Island Club Championships.

Breanna Stephenson is deputy head girl at Napier Girls' and is a member of the Kahui Maori Group supporting the school's Maori students.

Sport has been a big part of her life and has excelled at netball and athletics, having picked up a string of medals and records.

She represented New Zealand at the Oceania Area Championships and emerged with five gold medals.

Next year she is looking to study physiotherapy at university and is also considering tertiary studies abroad for an athletics scholarship.

"They are young people we can all be very proud of," Mrs Alexander said.