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High achievers . . . St Kevin's College pupils Kalas Taukamo and Tiana Mansfield received Mana Pounamu Young Achievers' Awards last week. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

A pair of St Kevin’s College pupils were recognised at the recent Mana Pounamu Young Achievers’ Awards.

Kalas Taukamo (17) and Tiana Mansfield (16) attended the awards ceremony at the University of Otago College of Education auditorium last Friday.

The awards acknowledge the achievements of Maori pupils in secondary schools across Otago and aim to inspire them to consider tertiary education as a natural progression.

In total, 43 awards were handed out to senior and junior pupils.

Tiana, a year 11 pupil, said it felt “really good” to receive the award.

While she had not settled on what she planned to study when she left St Kevin’s, Kalas had a clear idea of where his future lay.

He planned to study primary-level teaching at the university’s teachers’ college.

Both agreed embracing Maori culture at St Kevin’s was particularly important, given the small number of pupils that identified as Maori at the school.

“Because we’re such a little Maori school, it’s good to have the culture,” Kalas said.

“We have the Maori courses, but it would be good to see more students taking it as a subject.”

The annual awards were established by the late Alva Kapa, a Maori educator, and a group of his peers in 2001, the Year of Mana Pounamu.

The awards are a Kai Tahu initiative supported by Ka Papatipu Runaka ki Araiteuru, the University of Otago, Otago Polytechnic, Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu, the Ministry of Education and the Otago Daily Times

A third Oamaru pupil, Waitaki Boys’ High School’s Joshua Thompson-Holloway, won a Mana Pounamu award. He will be profiled in a future Oamaru Mail