Ezekiel Raui was a Year 11 student at Taipā Area School when he began to make a name for himself as a passionate promoter of solutions to problems facing many of his generation.

And now his younger brother, 17-year-old Shalynd, is well on the way to to joining the ranks of Taipā's high achievers too, courtesy of a not entirely unrelated passion.

Shalynd, the son of Tunui and Vanessa Raui, was born with club feet, a deformity that he said last week was unknown in his family. He had never had surgery, he said, but his grandmother had spent many hours massaging his feet when he was small, "pretty much restructuring" the bones in his feet.

While the condition posed some problems, it does not seem to have slowed him down. His major symptom now is aching in one leg, particularly in cold weather, but he is a keen and active sportsman, specialising in basketball, touch rugby, ki-o-rahi and volleyball. And it has inspired a career dream.

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Shalynd will begin his four-year degree course at AUT next year, with the aim of forging a career as physiotherapist. And he has won a major helping hand in the form of a McDonald's scholarship, worth $12,500 over four years.

He will receive $5000 in his first year, to help pay for hall of residence accommodation, followed by $2500 over each of the second and third years, which he will be able to use at his discretion, and $2500 in his last year, to support his entry to the workforce.

His dream is to work in the field of sports physiotherapy, but his big ambition, he said, was to help people who were facing the same challenges that he had successfully confronted.

He has also proved himself academically at Taipā, where he enrolled in Year 4 (having begun his education at Rangiawhia then Ahipara Primary), and those who know the family have no doubt that Shalynd will achieve at the highest level, and that his sisters, 16-year-old Fleurnik and 13-year-old Te Atenga, both currently at Taipā Area School, will add yet further lustre to the Raui name in years to come.

Principal Doreen Bailey said the family had made, and continued to make, a "fantastic" contribution to Taipa Area School, not least through Vanessa's coaching the team for the annual North Harbour-hosted UNISS netball tournament.

"She shows such massive support for all the students, and is so genuinely interested in what they are doing and what they can achieve, " she said. "It really is appreciated, by everyone at this school."