Tayla Alexander has been sowing seeds for years and now she is reaping the results of years of toiling.
With a $30,000 Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship, an excellence endorsement and one million views on a single YouTube video, 2019 is looking bright for the 18-year-old Aucklander.
It came as 2018 NCEA results were published online yesterday to 165,000 students, bringing an end to nail biting, panicked sleeping and head scratching.
The budding North Shore operatic singer is off to a cracking start in the new year but is taking a moment to reflect, she says.
Such opportunity did not come easily, rather the result of focus and sacrifice since she began her musical career at 5 years old, she said.
That meant missing out on sleepovers, parties and other teenage things to preserve her health and keep doing what made her passionate.
"It's important to love something even without recognition, but moments like this make every practice and challenging time worth it," Alexander said.
Many will know Alexander from her YouTube video covering Kate Bush's Wuthering Heights which reached more than 1,000,000 views in the new year.
Bush herself was only 18 when she wrote the lyrics for her most successful single.
Ironically, the first thing Alexander did to ring in the new year was plant a sunflower seed.
"It is symbolic, a sunflower has to grow from a seed, I'm starting and seeing how it goes.
Hang on if you want to see what happens."
Since being signed to a independent music label at 11 she has performed in concert halls with national orchestras, sung live on TV, performed to crowds of more than 200,000, and launched a top 10 New Zealand debut album.
The former Long Bay College prefect and soprano plans to study music at University of Waikato, and, along with her excellence endorsement, had received the Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship.
Along with the money the scholarship came with an expectation to represent the university and be passionate in all she did.
Although she planned to pursue music through tertiary study she had already been cutting her teeth with the tutelage of director of the Auckland Opera Studio Trust director Frances Wilson (ONZM).
Guitarist Gray Bartlett, while promoting his latest album, Platinum, said the songbird was "on the verge of worldwide recognition".
The two, who have known each other since Alexander was a tot, are now recording a single together.
Alexander plans to make more content for YouTube with a blog about her experiences that touch on moving out of home, going to university, her scholarship and other "adulting" things.
"This whole YouTube channel is slightly more personal. I love to write and to sing and perform. This is just another way for me to express myself."
She had advice for those entering NCEA level 1 or making goals for the future.
"I would never be in this position if I hadn't done these things. Do everything you are interested in. If you enjoy do it and try to set individual goals. Play your own game."
About 1.3 million exam booklets had been marked already, according to NZQA.
To cope with demand extra NZQA staff worked until 8pm last night, poised to answer specific questions students had about results.
The authority warned that if students were delayed in accessing results online it could be due to a number of factors such as what kind of device the student was using and the quality of internet connection.
Students had until February 15 to apply for a review or reconsideration and final national attainment statistics would be on the NZQA website on April 16.