Celebrating Success

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Cups, trophies, shields and certificates were awarded to Ōtaki College senior students when they celebrated their year’s work and achievements at their recent prizegiving evening.

Principal Andy Fraser began his address with a saying from our Maori ancestors, some thought provoking words, in te reo and English, “A great mountain cannot be moved but a giant wave can be broken by the prow of a canoe — do not give up easily most things are possible”. He went on to speak of the high achievements both academically and in the wider sports fields by Ōtaki College students, the Education Ministry’s recognition of Ōtaki College in pilot programmes, eg Pathways (to work), their involvement and participation with Energise Ōtaki and the Clean Technology programmes including the school’s use of blended fuels, solar panels energy for school use.

The introduction of the youth Rotary Interact club and the Duke of Edinburgh awards programme and the introduction of the xŌtaki Alumni Association (past students association) bringing new opportunities and challenges for the students, as well as contact for past pupils and also the introduction of several new scholarships for year 13 pupils.

“It’s exciting to see the growing number of students who were being acknowledged for merit and excellence endorsements at all levels of NCEA,” he said. “This is evidence that the level of achievement at the college continues to get stronger. For a small rural college, Ōtaki College continues to punch above its weight in sporting (fields) and academics”

Judge Christina Inglis, a past pupil and deputy head girl

The guest speaker for the evening was Judge Christina Inglis, a past pupil and deputy head girl, she spoke of her time at Ōtaki College, relating some of experiences and the teachers she had, much to the delight of the past and present students attending. Swimming sports was a very memorable occasion “Mr Jull came into our classroom, looked round and asked for entrants for the senior girls’ 100metre freestyle race, no one volunteered, then he pointed at me and said I would be swimming the 100 metre freestyle. Came sports day and when the race was called I was the only other swimmer beside the school champion. She in her top line swimwear and me in my flowery one, I swear she had touched the end of the pool before I came up from my belly flop into the pool!” The packed college hall roared with laughter! But this experience — being nominated for something she hadn’t agreed to, sparked her interest in judicial work.

She spoke of her work as a lawyer, a litigator in court hearings in the South Auckland criminal court and some of her court experiences.

“If you want to know more background knowledge of a case before making a decision, you’ll make a good lawyer,” she concluded.

Through her narrative, often poking fun at herself, Judge Inglis proved to be a very amusing speaker, keeping the students “hooked” on her words waiting for the next punchline. She was one of the more interesting visiting speakers the college has had.


During the evening students from the performing arts classes entertained. First up were a couple of mime artistes — the fishermen. Other performers were a male dancer and a singer.


Following the head students’ valedictory speeches and the presentation of the leaders’ taonga, presented to the each of the student leader team members, the 2016 student leaders were announced.

  • Head girl will be Cassie Lundie,
  • Head boy — Krunal Modi,
  • Deputy head girl — Kate Crighton and
  • Deputy head boy — Joel Taranchokov,
  • Associate heads of school:
    • Felix Crowe,
    • Kaya Edginton,
    • Sophrose London,
    • Ashleigh Stevenson,
    • Elijah Tapine-Miller and
    • Jordyn Thompson.

Top students in years 11 and 12 were Michael McInerney-Heather and Cassie Lundie respectively.

For the older students the most important part of the evening was the presentation of the major awards. This year there were a number of new scholarships awarded, including from the newly formed xŌtaki Alumni Trust, the Gaylor Bevan Award to study accountancy, the Kevin Crombie Memorial Commerce Award to study commerce, the Stuart Pritchard Scholarship to study agriculture, horticulture and land based skills and the KidzOwn Group Award for runner-up to Dux and KidzOwn Group Vocational Pathways Scholarship.

Francesca Flaws
Dux Francesca Flaws

The two top year 13 students were Dux Francesca Flaws and runner-up to Dux Clare McInerney-Heather. Both received a number of trophies and scholarships. Francesca was awarded the following scholarships: the KidzOwn Group Award for Dux, The Ōtaki Memorial RSA award for Dux, the KidzOwn Group Education Scholarship enabling her to have paid work experience in the field of children’s education, and the McLaren Cup for Poetry and Prose. She will be studying law and politics at Otago University next year.

Runner-up to Dux Clare McInerney-Heather
Runner-up to Dux Clare McInerney-Heather

Clare was awarded the KidzOwn Award for Runner-Up to Dux, the Marjorie Gordon Memorial Award presented by the Ōtaki Community Health Trust for study in health sciences, the Ōtaki Women’s Community Club scholarship and the Sander Apparel Scholar award for a reciprocal Ōtaki Scholar visit to Robert Gordon’s College in Aberdeen and the Chairman’s Award for All Round Excellence. Clare will begin her health science studies also at Otago University.

The following were awarded financial scholarships:

  • Wendy Tam received
    • the Kevin Crombie memorial Commerce Award,
    • the Gaylor Bevan Award and
    • the Ōtaki Historical Society Award,
  • Adele Finnie received
    • the xŌtaki Alumni Trust Scholarship,
  • Isla Gray was awarded
    • the Concrete Doctors Financial Scholarship,
  • Erin McArley received
    • the Stuart Pritchard Scholarship, and
    • the Horowhenua Veterinary Services Scholarship,
  • Ashleigh Tawharu received
    • the Ōtaki Masonic Award,
  • Natalie Rankin was awarded
    • the KidzOwn Vocational Pathways Scholarship,
  • Cassie Lundie’s
    • Concrete Doctors Outdoor Pursuits Scholarship entitles her to a seven day leadership course at the Outdoor Pursuits Centre in Turangi and
  • Krunal Modi received
    • the JB Northern Cup for Level Two Science.


Following the evening’s awards conclusion, parents, students and whanau were invited to the canteen for refreshments.

All senior students then had a week’s study leave before the external NCEA exams began.