Article published in the Otago Daily Times
Grace Turipa (DOB: 22.11.2001)
The performing arts have helped Grace Turipa to express herself and her Maori identity.
Her hope for the future is to help other young Maori young people do the same.
The 17-year-old says her passion for the performing arts comes from her family. Through her father, a musician, she was exposed to music from an early age.
She has danced since she was five, and music and dance have led to a deep interest in theatre and other kinds of performing, like public speaking.
``Performing is a kind of therapy for me, it's a way to express myself in a way that just having a conversation couldn't do.
``It helps me make sense of what's going on in my head, and help release those emotions.''
Because her other passion in life is helping others, she has chosen the performing arts as the medium for doing that.
She is involved with Camp Columba, a performing arts holiday programme in Pukerau for primary school-aged children.
Grace says she has yet to decide whether to attend university in Wellington or Dunedin, but wants to do a double degree in psychology and performing arts.
After she graduates, she wants to develop a support programme for Maori youth to help them ``find their identity, and to encourage them and uplift them''.
``I find very often, within my own community and most definitely in others, that Maori youth are often not given much opportunity to prove themselves, or to make the best of their opportunities.
``My goal is to help them do that through performing _ music, dance and drama.''
Achievements: Lead role of Gabriella in school production of High School Musical (2019), lead role of Dragon in Gore Musical Theatre's Shrek Jr (2018); Otago Southland Theatre Awards nominee for performance as Dragon; Gore Musical Theatre's Best of Broadway
cast member (2013) and Peter Pan Jr cast member (2014); winner of prepared speech section and was second overall in the Manu Korero Maori speech competition, for Southland and Otago, in June; 2018 Junior Outstanding Youth Award at the Gore Youth Awards;
First in Senior Scripture for sight reading and psalm reading for Bishops Shield Competition (2018); leadership role in To Hato Petera Kapa Haka group; Intermediate Eisteddfod School Champion (2015); Senior Eisteddfod School Champion (2017-2018); Grade Seven
Hip-Hop achieved with Honours (2017); Achieved ANZCA Practical Piano examinations Grade Two and Three with Distinction (2017).
Academic _ NCEA Level One and Two with Excellence Endorsed; Level One subject endorsements with Excellence, Religious Education and English; Subject endorsements with merit, Science and History; Level Two subject endorsements with excellence, Religious
Education and Photography; Subject endorsements with merit, Performing Arts and English.
Role models: Her mother.
Hopes for the future: Develop a performing arts-based support programme for Maori youth.
Thomas McKenzie (DOB 7.1.2001)
Thomas McKenzie loves sport for its physicality and the social connections it forges.
``You get to meet new people, and I thrive off the making of a team.''
In his favourite sport of rugby, a typical squad of 23 boys means he gets to make a lot of new friends.
The 18-year-old says sport is big in his family. One of three boys, his older and younger brothers are also keen sportsmen.
``It's always been the norm in my family to be playing rugby or some other sport, so I just went along with that.
``Playing with them is pretty good fun.''
However, as well as the sheer enjoyment, sport has helped him in other parts of his life, helping him develop self-discipline and emotional and mental resilience.
``I really like training and going to the gym. It keeps me level, calms me down and gives me time by myself.
``Sport puts you under pressure for an extended time, so learning to live with that is a big thing for me.''
Whether it is preparing for a big game, or a trialling for a representative team, he has become better at ``keeping my emotions in check''.
``I can apply that to going into an exam _ using the same techniques to keep myself level-headed.''
His main goals for the rest of the year are to make the Southland Under-18 rugby team and complete his NCEA Level 3 qualifications.
Next year, he plans to study for a Bachelor of Commerce at the University of Otago.
He then intends to get a teaching degree so he can become a high school teacher.
Achievements: Rugby and rugby league _ 2017 - St Peter's 1st XV, Southland Under-16 rugby team; St Peter's Condors Sevens team member; 2018: St Peter's 1st XV; Southland Rugby Academy member; Highlanders Under-18 reserve team member; St Peter's Condors
Sevens Team; Cowboys rugby league Under-18 team (captain); Southland Under-17 Rams rugby league team (captain); South Island Scorpions Under-17 rugby league team member and Coaches' Player of the Year; 2019: St Peter's 1st XV (captain); Bula Bros Southland
Sevens team member; New Zealand rugby league Under-18 wider squad member; Southland Rams Under-19 rugby league team member.
Athletics _ St Peter's College athletics champion 2013-2019; record holder for Under-15 3000m and 1500m and Under-16 3000m; cross country champion years 7-10.
Academic _ First in Physical Education Years 7-10; First in Religious Education Year 12; First in Commerce Year 11; Academic Blues Award 2018-2019.
Cultural _ 2019: Gore Youth Awards nomination (diversity and inclusion); supporting Fijian international students at St Peter's College; Boys Outreach Programme leader; 2019 Principal's Award for compassion.
Role models: His parents.
Hopes for the future: To become a high school teacher, while seeing how far he can go in rugby.