Raymond Chiu never considered winning the dux prize, all he wanted was to do well at school.
So he was stunned when his name was read out as Western Heights High School's 2017 recipient of the prestigious award.
"I didn't know what to do. It took me a while to actually realise it was my name that was called out."
He said he was filled with nerves as he walked up to receive the trophy as he suffered from stage fright.
"I was so scared to get up in front of everyone but once I saw my mum sitting in the back I felt more at ease."
Raymond is the latest from Western Heights High School to take the dux title, along with six other Year 13s across Rotorua schools.
"I never expected to win because there are so many smart students here that could have won it instead, but I'm still really proud to achieve something like this."
Raymond was also awarded the $20,000 academic potential scholarship which will help him pursue a career in either electrical or civil engineering at the University of Auckland.
"I've always enjoyed building things and math and physics are my strongest subjects, so engineering seemed like a perfect fit."
Like most teenagers, he found it hard deciding which career path he would go down, but said he was in no rush to pin himself to one option just yet.
"When I was young I always wanted to study art, then architecture, now engineering. I'm going to use my first year to look at my options and figure out what's best for me."
Born and raised in Rotorua, Raymond is anxious about moving to the hustle and bustle of Auckland.
"I love Rotorua because it's so peaceful and there aren't too many people, so it may take a while for me to adjust but I'm Iooking forward to the challenge."
He said it would be hard for him to leave his life in Rotorua behind, but embraces the independence that comes with it.
"All my friends are heading off to different universities so I'll have to do my best to catch up with them before I leave in January.
"All I'm worried about is learning how to do my own laundry."