Key Points:

Aroha Ireland was the poster girl for John Key's move into the "underclass" last year.

Mr Key plucked the 12-year-old from McGehan Close, in the Auckland suburb of Mt Albert, to attend the Waitangi commemorations with him.

Now, 18 months on, life is much as it ever was for Aroha, now 13.

She is in her first year at Mt Albert Grammar, doing "the usual" subjects and playing volleyball, her mother Joan Nathan told the Herald yesterday.

But life initially got harder for Aroha after Waitangi. The media latched on to Mr Key's gesture, sending her photograph and story around the country. When she returned from Waitangi, she found the fame difficult.

Not that she got carried away.

"Her feet are still on the ground," he mother said. "They were pretty much firmly planted on the ground anyway. She's always a good girl, she's always staying out of trouble."

Aroha is part of the I Have A Dream programme, which helps children from low-income communities reach their education and career goals by providing a long-term programme of mentoring, tutoring and tuition assistance for higher education.

The tuition assistance depends on Aroha achieving high grades, and so far she has been doing that, Miss Nathan said.

Aroha and her mother still live in McGehan Close, although they have moved to a different house since Mr Key's visit.