A $20,000 university scholarship means a teenager from an isolated Far North settlement can start pursuing his dream of becoming a neurosurgeon.
Seventeen-year-old Whiti Hoori, who lives at Waikare on the back road between Kawakawa and Russell, won the University of Auckland Top Achiever Award on the back of his school results.
The Year 13 student spends three hours a day travelling to and from school because he specifically wanted a Catholic education. Pompallier College in Whangārei was his only option in Northland.
The scholarship includes $15,000 to cover the cost of accommodation in a hall of residence and $5000 for other expenses.
Another Pompallier College student, Raphael Rauner, 18, of Whangārei, won the same scholarship.
Raphael plans a conjoint Bachelor of Laws/Bachelor of Arts degree with his BA majoring in politics and international studies.
In February Whiti will start a Bachelor of Health Sciences with a view to studying medicine and eventually becoming a neurosurgeon.
"I want to specialise in neurology. I've always been fascinated by the nervous system, it pretty much keeps the whole body running," he said.
Whiti, whose iwi is Ngāpuhi and his hapū Te Kapotai, is currently studying biology, chemistry, physics, English, calculus and religious studies. Next month he will sit scholarship exams in the three sciences.
Whiti said the first response he received after applying for the scholarship told him he hadn't been successful.
"I was pretty gutted for about the first five minutes. It felt pretty awkward. But five minutes later I got a second email saying the first one had been a mistake. I was stoked to be honest, I went and gave my mum a big hug.
"It means I don't have to worry about accommodation, so that's a huge financial strain gone. I can focus on doing well in my first year so I can hopefully win some more scholarships."
Mum Vicky Lawson said it was "pretty much unheard of" for a young person in an isolated rural community like Waikare to win a top study award.
"We need to let kids in these kind of communities know that anything is possible," she said.
Whiti's advice to other young Northlanders pursuing academic success is simple: "Study smart and manage your time."
When Whiti isn't studying you can find him at the National Shrine of St Peter Chanel in Russell, where he plays the organ every Sunday.
University of Auckland Top Achiever Awards also went to other students in Kaitaia, Kerikeri and Whangārei.