Youth Excellence Scholarships

Established in 2004 and awarded annually, the Horowhenua Youth Excellence Scholarships aim to reward and celebrate young people's efforts and achievements in the following areas:

  • Community Services - for recognition of outstanding service to the community
  • Excellence in Sport
  • Excellence in Academia
  • Excellence in Art and Culture.

These scholarships not only recognise achievements and contributions, but also assist recipients to continue to advance in these areas. A total of 12 x $250.00 scholarships are awarded across the four categories listed above.

2023 Horowhenua Youth Excellence Scholarships

Horowhenua Youth Excellence Scholarships

Youth Excellence Scholarships were awarded to:

Paloma Janse - Academia

Paloma's academic journey at Ngā Tawa Diocesan School has been marked by unwavering excellence. At NCEA Level 1, she secured excellence endorsement before external examinations, accumulating a remarkable 69 excellence credits.

Her commitment to excellence extended into NCEA Level 2, undertaken in 2022. Across subjects including English, History, Music, Statistics, Biology, Physics, and Chemistry, Paloma consistently achieved excellence marks, amassing a commendable total of 84 excellence credits. Notably, she also claimed the top spot in her Music class.

Paloma's academic prowess has earned her the prestigious 'Academic Tie' at Ngā Tawa School, a well deserved recognition of her outstandingly high achievement.

Currently, Paloma is diligently pursuing NCEA Level 3, maintaining an impressive grade average and preparing for her NCEA scholarship examination in Drama. Beyond her academic achievements, Paloma shines as:

  • Chair of the Rangitikei Youth Council
  • Humanities Head Prefect
  • A dedicated participant in cross country
  • An active contributor to speech, drama, and her band, DAHLIA.

Paloma's well-rounded excellence extends beyond the classroom, showcasing her leadership and talent in diverse pursuits.

Looking ahead, Paloma would like to continue her academic journey through tertiary education. In 2024, she plans to pursue a Bachelor of Laws and a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Film, a testament to her ambition to excel academically and further explore her intellectual interests through higher education.

The scholarship she receives will aid in her transition to university, supporting her as she continues to excel in her academic pursuits.

Congratulations Paloma, we extend our best wishes for your future endeavours.

Isabel Mclean - Academia

Isabel's academic prowess is truly exceptional, characterised by a diligent work ethic and a proactive approach towards maximising her potential. Her exceptional time management skills have consistently propelled her to the highest academic achievement levels.

This dedication to excellence was first acknowledged during her time at Horowhenua College, when she was honoured as the Runner-up Academic student in Year 10 at the 2020 end of year prizegiving. Building on this accomplishment, Isabel achieved the coveted title of Top Academic Year 11 student the following year. In 2022, she further solidified her academic standing by earning the prestigious title of Top Academic Year 12 student.

Isabel's remarkable academic accomplishments extend across various subjects. She secured 1st place in a multitude of Level 2 subjects including Biology, Chemistry, Mathematics, English, and History, and achieved a commendable 2nd place in Level 2 Drama.

Isabel's unwavering commitment to excellence is evident in her attainment of Level 1 and Level 2 NCEA endorsements with Excellence. Given her record of accomplishment, there is every expectation that she will successfully achieve University Entrance.

In recognition of Isabel’s outstanding contributions and capabilities, she was selected to join the Prefect Team for 2023 and entrusted with the role of Social Action Prefect. These appointments reflect not only her academic prowess, but also her dedication to making a positive impact within the school community and beyond.

Isabel aspires to pursue a Bachelor of Science at Otago University, with a specialisation in Biochemistry. This scholarship will assist in covering her university course fees.

Congratulations on your accomplishments Isabel, and all the best for your journey ahead at Otago University.

Nathan Eyles - Academia

Nathan has consistently demonstrated an exceptional commitment to academic excellence throughout his Horowhenua College journey. His dedication to his studies is commendable making him an outstanding candidate for academic recognition.

In Year 9, Nathan's aptitude for academics became evident when he was named the Top Academic student. This accomplishment marked the beginning of a series of impressive academic achievements. In Year 10, Nathan secured the top position in Mathematics, Social Studies, and Outdoor Education, earning the title of Top Academic student again. His achievements in Year 11 further solidified his academic prowess, with an NCEA Level 1 endorsement with excellence.

Year 12 was no exception to Nathan's remarkable academic journey. He achieved an NCEA Level 2 endorsement with excellence, an excellence endorsement in Physical Education, and merit endorsements in Mathematics and Commerce. His notable performance in specific subjects, including 1st in Physical Education, 1st in Physics, 2nd in Mathematics, and 2nd in Chemistry, demonstrated his versatility and competence.

Beyond his academic excellence, Nathan actively engages in extracurricular activities, such as representing the college on the Jimmy Carter Quiz team, showcasing his intellectual talents in a regional academic competition. His dedication to academics extends to his role as the Academic Prefect, where he promotes academic pursuits amongst his peers and organises academic activities for students to engage in.

Nathan aspires to pursue a Bachelor of Engineering at Canterbury University and plans to utilise the scholarship for university course costs.

Congratulations Nathan, your hard work and dedication have paid off, and your future is very bright.  All the best for 2024.

Lavalea Fonoti - Arts and Culture

Lavalea has demonstrated a deep commitment to preserving and sharing Samoan and Pacific Culture at Waiopehu College and within the local community. Her dedication to being a Cultural Leader and representative is truly commendable.

Lavalea consistently volunteers her time to engage in events that celebrate and uphold her cultural values. One notable example of her involvement is her leadership and active participation in the Fa'atasi Cultural Group at Waiopehu, where Lavalea shares her talent and knowledge with her peers, teaching dance and helping choreograph items.

Lavalea volunteered at Levin East School this year where she worked with the Cultural Group to develop a performance set that represented cultures of the Pacific, for the Junior Jandal Jam event. This support was invaluable for the school and large group of performers.

Furthermore, Lavalea has expanded her reach by being an integral part of the Vaka Ora Pasifika Forum, using her voice and influence to advocate for the empowerment and support of Pasifika Youth. Her role as the Head of Culture for Waiopehu College, alongside her dual role as Deputy Head Girl, reflects her exceptional leadership skills and the high regard in which she is held within the educational community.

Lavalea's impact extends beyond her immediate circles, as she serves as an inspirational role model for other young Pasifika students who look up to her with admiration. Her passion for her cultural heritage and dedication to empowering her peers is both evident and inspiring.

Lavalea would like to pursue a career in early childhood education. Congratulations Lavalea, keep up the fantastic work, all the very best for 2024.


 Charli O’Brien - Arts and Culture

Charli is a remarkable individual whose passion for the performing arts is evident in her outstanding achievements and contributions to Horowhenua College and the wider community of performing arts.

Charli’s dedication to the arts was immediately apparent as she commenced Horowhenua College which saw her acknowledged with a Year 9 Arts Scholarship. Charli's commitment to the field was further acknowledged when she was honoured with a Merit Award for Year 9 Drama during the end of year prizegiving.

Charli is actively involved in community arts. She initially performed in ensemble roles in various well-known productions such as Mamma Mia, Rock of Ages, Jesus Christ Superstar, Oliver, Hairspray Jnr and Annie.

Over time, Charli's expertise and abilities developed which enable her to take on female support roles in productions like Frozen Jnr, The Lion King, The Sound of Music and the Levin Artistic Awards. Most impressively, Charlie has transitioned to lead female roles in Star Blaze, A Slice of Saturday Night and High School Musical – performing these roles amazingly well and receiving accolades far and wide.

Charli’s commitment to the arts extends to her role as the Arts Prefect for 2023 where she successfully organised and promoted events related to the arts.  2023 has also seen Charli involved in preparing a group of students for the National Showquest. This required significant time commitment and the group gained a commendable 2nd place.

Looking forward, Charli aspires to pursue a Bachelor of Nursing in 2024.

Well done on your successes Charli, we are excited to see what the future holds for you!

Te Waipounamu Tamati - Art and Culture

Te Waipounamu has demonstrated exceptional dedication to her education and the promotion of Māori culture. She excels academically, consistently producing work of an excellence standard.

Her involvement in the Kapa Haka roopu – Te Rōpu Haka o Te Awahou, enables Te Waipounamu to share her culture through performances at various events and school functions across the Horowhenua.

Te Waipounamu's passion for learning about her culture and Te Ao Māori is evident in her active participation in class activities related to Te Reo, the recent Matariki focus, and her comprehensive understanding of Te Whare Tapa Wha, reflecting her dedication to holistic wellbeing.

As a school leader and house captain, Te Waipounamu exhibits exemplary leadership qualities. She takes initiative in organising and conducting house meetings, making a conscious effort to include younger students in the proceedings.

Te Waipounamu's future aspirations are centered on her continued involvement in Kapa Haka. She aims to further enhance her proficiency in Te Reo and seek out leadership opportunities in her educational journey.

Te Waipounamu intends to utilise the scholarship funds to enrich her education. Her interests lie in exploring New Zealand fiction with Māori themes and settings, and she plans to invest in additional resources that align with this passion.

Ko te manu e kai ana I te miro, nōnā te ngahere. Ko te manu e kai ana I te mātauranga, nōnā te ao – The bird that consumes the miro berry owns the forest. The bird that consumes knowledge owns the world.

Congratulations Te Waipounamu on this well-deserved award.

Maiah Cudby - Community Service

Congratulations to Maiah Cudby. Maiah's achievements in the field of surf lifesaving are truly remarkable. It's not every day that a year 11 student is named a finalist as a Support Officer of the Year, at the Surf Lifesaving New Zealand National Awards of Excellence. This recognition is a testament to her exceptional dedication and hard work.

Maiah's commitment to the safety of beachgoers in Horowhenua, is something that deserves our utmost respect and recognition. Her ongoing involvement with the Foxton Beach Surf Club showcases her determination to give back to her community and ensure their wellbeing.

Maiah started Surf Lifesaving at 2 years old at the Foxton Beach Nippers Club where she learned beach safety. Then graduated to water safety. Made the transition from Nippers to Rookie Lifeguard when she was 13 and then onto Patrol Support in 2022.

This year, at the Foxton Beach Surf Lifesaving Club, Maiah provided 90 hours of patrol, which was the most patrol hours on the beach for the summer. This moved her to the Capital Coast Awards where she won Best Patrol Support and Most Hours.

Maiah's contributions to the surf lifesaving and community as a whole, are greatly appreciated. Her dedication serves as an inspiration to all and her work in ensuring beachgoer's safety is exemplary.

Congratulations Maiah for this well-deserved recognition and thank you for your efforts in making our beaches safer. Your dedication is a shining example of what can be achieved when passion and hard work come together.

Georgia Cruse - Community Service

Georgia's dedication to working every Saturday and during school holidays at Helping Hands and the Shannon Kai Hub is commendable. She is known for her warm and friendly demeanour and always greets clients with a smile.

Georgia's willingness to take on new challenges and her commitment to giving her best in every task is admirable. She also has a great knack for relaxing clients with her warm smile and a listening ear.

In 2018, Georgia's leadership qualities were recognised with the prestigious Sir Peter Blake Young Leadership Award, which is bestowed upon young New Zealanders who demonstrate exceptional leadership within their school community. Additionally, she achieved the Duke of Edinburgh Bronze Medal in recognition of her commitment to personal development and community service.

Most recently, in September Georgia along with 450 other young wāhine from across New Zealand, were celebrated and recognised at the GirlBoss New Zealand Awards.

The GirlBoss awards are dedicated to celebrating young women defying stereotypes and leading change in their communities. Georgia won the Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths award category, for her selfless work and passion for technology and architecture where she has been using her architectural skills to benefit the community.

With aspirations to become an Architect, Georgia hopes to put these skills to use in the Horowhenua District to improve and create useful spaces in the community.

Congratulations Georgia on your achievements and thank you for the positive impact you have made in our community.

Ta'lia Tuitama - Community Service

Ta'lia is an exceptional individual who has shown an unwavering dedication to creating safe and inclusive spaces for the Rainbow community in the Horowhenua. While pursuing a fulltime degree at Massey University, she devotes a substantial amount of her free time to spearheading initiatives for the Free2BME Horowhenua Rainbow Group and other community events.

Ta'lia played a crucial role as a member of the organising team for the Horowhenua Uenuku Pride Ball in 2021 and 2022. Her contributions were instrumental in ensuring the success of these important events.

In 2019, Ta'lia took on the role of OK2BME facilitator at Horowhenua College, providing invaluable support and guidance to students seeking a safe space to express themselves.

In 2023, Ta'lia took the initiative to found and facilitate FREE2BME, an endeavour that further underscores her dedication to promoting inclusivity and acceptance within the Rainbow community.

Ta'lia's tireless efforts and contributions to the Rainbow community in the Horowhenua exemplify her passion for inclusivity and acceptance.  Her work has undoubtedly made a positive impact on the lives of many in the Rainbow community, and her future endeavours are bound to continue this trend of positive change.

Currently pursuing studies in Social Science with a future goal of becoming a child therapist, Ta'lia plans to allocate the scholarship towards her educational costs and make a donation to Free2BME.

Congratulations, Ta'lia, on your outstanding achievements and contributions to this critically important space. Your dedication and passion are truly commendable, and we look forward to witnessing the continued positive impact of your work.

Flynn Warren - Sport

 Flynn's accomplishments in the realm of sports are truly commendable and his achievements are a testament to his hard work and commitment to excel in multiple disciplines.

One of Flynn's remarkable feats was his selection in the New Zealand U18 Baseball team, a historic achievement for the country, as it marked the first time the team secured a victory over Australia.

Additionally, Flynn's regular commute from his hometown to Auckland during Terms 1 and 4, every weekend, to participate in Senior Men's Baseball for the Bayside-Westhaven Club, demonstrates his dedication to the sport. The Club's impressive 3rd place finish in the Men's National competition further attests to Flynn's role as a valuable member of the team.

Furthermore, Flynn's involvement with T-ball coaching in Levin for 5–7-year-olds shows his commitment to nurturing young talent and giving back to the community. His acquisition of the Community Umpire Certificate further exemplifies his dedication.

In addition to his accomplishments in baseball, Flynn's representation of Waiopehu College in both the 1st XI Football and Hockey teams for annual competitions highlights his versatility and proficiency in multiple sports.

Flynn's ambition is to secure a sports scholarship in baseball at a US college in 2025. His determination to continue participating in top tier competitions in Auckland and maintaining his position in National teams reflects his commitment to representing New Zealand on the international stage.

To top off a successful year, Flynn was recently announced Waiopehu College’s Head Boy position for 2024. Congratulations Flynn, your success is well deserved, keep aiming high and chasing your dreams.

Cassie Yates - Sport

Cassie is a remarkable athlete who has been involved in Tae Kwon Do from the age of four and has collected achievements that are nothing short of extraordinary. Her dedication, skill, and perseverance have propelled her to the pinnacle of this demanding discipline.

At the national level, Cassie won the prestigious title of National Champion in the fiercely competitive 18+ category, showcasing her dominance in her division. Her attainment of a First-Degree Black Belt further underscores her proficiency, marking a significant milestone in her martial arts journey.

At an international level, Cassie has clinched the title of Oceania Champion in her division an impressive four times, and in 2017, also distinguished herself as the Australian Champion in her age group, solidifying her status as an exceptional athlete on the national stage.

Cassie recently represented NZ at the World Championships in Finland, where she was a member of the team who won Gold in Team Patterns. Cassie placed 5th in the world for sparring, demonstrating her prowess in intense one-on-one combat.

Her future endeavours are characterised by a clear ambition to continue training rigorously and striving for qualification in further World Championships. Cassie’s ultimate aspiration is to secure individual event titles and add to her already illustrious collection of Oceania, National, and regional titles.

Cassie's achievements and future aspirations exemplify the qualities of a dedicated and accomplished athlete. Her commitment to her craft and her pursuit of excellence serves as an inspiration to her peers, and testament to her potential for continued success in the world of ITF Tae Kwon Do.

Congratulations Cassie, we wish you all the very best for the future.

Whatu Kiriona - Sport

Whatu is an exceptionally gifted sportsman with a remarkable proficiency across a diverse range of sports. His impressive track record in softball includes stints with three club teams for the 2022/23 season and being selected for the Manawatū U17 Boys Rep Team in 2023.

Not limited to softball, Whatu has also excels in hockey. He is a valued member of the Horowhenua College 1st XI Boys Hockey Team and in 2023, he played a pivotal role in the Levin Combined Colleges 1st XI Boys Hockey Team, which emerged victorious in the Hockey Manawatū Secondary Schools Intercity 1 Competition. They also won the Woollaston Trophy at the Secondary Schools Hockey Tournament. Furthermore, Whatu also played for the Tai Uru Haupoi Māori Men’s Hockey Team this year.

In football, Whatu played for the Levin AFC Combined Colleges U17 Boys Football Team, and on the rugby field he played for the Horowhenua College 1st XV Boys Rugby Team this year.

Notably, Whatu's leadership qualities shine through as he assumes the role of Team Captain for the Horowhenua College J19 Boys Waka Ama Team. Whatu's leadership style is characterised by his ability to lead by example and his unwavering support for his teammates. He consistently upholds the values of fair play, demonstrating both humility in victory and grace in defeat. Whatu's dedication, sportsmanship, and versatility make him a standout figure in the realm of sports.

Congratulations Whatu, keep excelling with your sport, there is nothing you cannot achieve, if you put your mind to it.  

All 2023 Award Recipients

2023 Horowhenua Youth Excellence Scholarships Closed 

Nominations closed Friday 15 September 2023. 

Recipients and their whānau will be invited to attend the Civic Awards evening in November 2023, when the awards will be presented.

Criteria for Horowhenua Youth Excellence Scholarships

  • The nomination must show a clear link to a either a Community Service, Excellence in Sport, Excellence in Academia or Excellence in Art and Culture area.
  • The nominee must live in the Horowhenua District.
  • The nominee must be between the ages of 12 and 24 years.
  • The nomination must be supported by someone who is familiar with the young person’s success, ie involved in their sporting club etc. This person will be utilised as a reference to verify the young person’s achievements.