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Top performer .. Waitaki Boys' High School pupil Jacob Tuisani. PHOTO: DANIEL BIRCHFIELD

Jacob Tuisani is proud to embrace his Tuvaluan heritage at Waitaki Boys’ High School.

The 17-year-old year 12 pupil is not only a top academic, having achieved Level 2 excellence, but is also a second-year member of the school’s First XV rugby side, and plays on the volleyball team.

“I try my hardest,” he said when asked of his academic and sports achievements.

Jacob has also flourished in cultural activities. This year, he led the school’s Polyfest dance group that performed in Dunedin.

“To me, it wasn’t really about the dancing. It was showing them where we’re from, where our parents come from and encouraging all of the other boys that we are not here just to play sports. We’re here to get better grades and do what we think we can do.”

An aspect he had enjoyed in his time at Waitaki Boys’ was meeting people from different countries, and forging friendships with fellow pupils regardless of where they were from.

“There’s people coming from Tonga and Fiji and stuff, from Invercargill and Auckland too. There’s a lot of different faces and there’s a real band of brotherhood here.”

He also appreciated what the school had done for him.

“I’m from Auckland, and you have better opportunities here and more one-on-one time with teachers to get help, and the coaches really get involved with us.”

While Jacob still had another year at school, he was excited about heading off to university.

“I want to go to Canterbury and study up there, and get into civil engineering or something like that.

“My dad has a cousin who is a civil engineer. I had a talk with him – he lives up in Christchurch – he has inspired me to follow that career.”