When Kāpiti College student Antonio Salamat first moved to New Zealand in 2014 he was apprehensive about the New Zealand school system after coming from an intense Philippines environment.

The New Zealand system, however, is proving to be the perfect stomping ground for the Year 11 student after he received an Outstanding Scholarship in chemistry after sitting the examination at the end of last year as a Year 10 student.

"It feels pretty good receiving the scholarship," Antonio said.

"I didn't think I'd get anything at all so it was a surprise.


"In the Philippines it's very fast paced and a bit punitive. If you don't do something correctly you are humiliated in front of the class.

"There's a lot of pressure but it's intense in a way I got used to.

"When I came here it was really weird seeing it so relaxed.

"I had a few reservations when I first arrived in New Zealand.

"The education system here feels very carefree but it's good because you can live as a child should."

When Antonio started at Kāpiti College he found science in particular rather 'basic' and asked his teacher for more work.

Making the most of New Zealand's public libraries and internet access which is more readily available than in his home country, Antonio's interest in science came from reading book after book about science.

Being especially interested in chemistry, Antonio watched videos online which further extended his knowledge.

So much so, by the time he arrived at Kāpiti College in 2017 he found science class rather 'basic'.

"I had to ask my science teacher for more work.

"They gave me a test to check my ability and then put me in Year 11 science."

Spending two weeks in a Year 11 science class, Antonio's ability was already beyond this so he then moved into Year 12 chemistry, completing NCEA level 2 chemistry in 2017 and level 3 chemistry and scholarship in 2018.

"People love making changes to the world in politics and economics but for me it's science.

"That's my way of helping other people and discovering more of the world.

"I once wanted to be a doctor but I've decided that's not really what I want to do.

"Being a doctor you help people, but you don't push the frontiers that much.

"I want to research, to find new methods rather than doing old ones."

Antonio plans on completing a number of papers through Victoria University while still at Kāpiti College aiming for a bachelor of science majoring in chemistry and environmental science before continuing research and eventually doing a PhD.

"We have done so much to destroy this world, I think it's our responsibility to clean it up."

Explaining his love of science and why he spends so many hours outside of class time researching and studying, Antonio said, "It's the feeling of satisfaction when you realise the world has complicated things, and you understand those complicated things knowing that eventually you can make a change in the world.

"I got put in the sciences not simply because I was good at it but also because I loved it, that's really all that matters."