Wanganui High School students were presented with their Gold Duke of Edinburgh's Hillary Awards by the Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mateparae, at Government House in Wellington on August 16.

The 11 students were accompanied by principal Garry Olver and high school coordinators Claire O'Connor and Steve Kiesanowski.

"It is such a prestigious occasion and it is an honour to see the students receive their awards knowing they have put in four years of hard work to get there," Mrs O'Connor said.

"Some of them have already graduated and started their tertiary studies and Renee Nyman qualified for her award two years ago but she has been studying overseas."

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To earn the award students have to learn a skill, provide service to the community, do some form of physical recreation, go on a four-day expedition and attend a five-day residential project.

The length of time for each activity changes from three months for Bronze to six months for Silver and 12 months for each section at Gold Level.

Some of the students' activities have included coaching hockey, helping at the Whanganui District Library, being a youth counsellor, learning how to knit, learning how to play the bagpipes, tramping and kayaking the Abel Tasman National Park, canoeing down the Whanganui River, being a youth leader at the YMCA camps at Raukawa Adventure Centre, and going on a 10-day trip to Nepal.

"The Governor-General took time to speak to each student and acknowledge their individual achievements - he was very personable," Mrs O'Connor said.

The Duke of Edinburgh's Hillary Award is a programme for 14- to 25-year-olds that is open to all young people in New Zealand regardless of background or ability.