Kaitaia College Year 13 student Angel Harbers is one of five secondary students from around the country who have been awarded $20,000 Te Ara a Kupe Beaton scholarships that could open the doors to the best universities in the world.
The scholarships were presented in Auckland on Sunday, the day after Angel left on a Kaitaia College excursion to Europe.
The citation said Angel had overcome adversity to achieve incredibly high academic results across the sciences, despite limited access to resources. She had worked from a young age to raise the money for school trips and supplies, "like a fancy calculator", and would be the first in her family to finish high school.
"From Ngawha to Kaikohe and other homes across the country, Angel maintained focus on pursuing a degree in medicine in order to provide a better future for her family and others," it added.
"She hopes to channel the scholarship support into a University Clinical Aptitude Test (UCAT) preparatory programme to increase the likelihood of her dream to become a surgeon."
A second scholarship recipient, Year 11 King's College student Muriwai Morris (Ngāti Awa, Te Rarawa), also has strong Far North connections.
"As the youngest sibling of four older brothers who have benefited from leadership positions, Muriwai strives to pursue similar opportunities at school, and has maintained leadership roles from Year 9 as a peer mediator, environmental representative in Year 10, and this year secured the King's College community service, academic and school awards," the citation said.
"Her current interests are law and social policy which impact on Māori, including the justice system, childhood poverty and accessible healthcare and education."
She was looking at career options in medicine or clinical psychology, in particular areas within psychology where she could support tamariki and rangatahi Māori to fulfil their developmental, social and personal aspirations.
The scholarships are aimed at encouraging young Māori to discover their potential at the world's most competitive universities.
Each student receives personalised mentoring and education services to help them apply for places at their "dream" university, and to help them to make an impact on their community and the global stage.
This year's recipients were looking at studying in fields ranging from medicine and law to politics and astrophysics at universities in New Zealand, at Oxford Caltech. All had their sights set on making a difference for Māori.
Kaitaia College old boy Shay Wright, co-founder of Te Whare Hukahuka and Forbes 30 Under-30 listee, who was again one of the judges this year, said regardless of which field the recipients specialised in, or which university they attended, they had each demonstrated incredible merit, and that the scholarships carried an obligation to help more Māori succeed.