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Congratulations . . . (Left) Waitaki Boys' High School vocational award winner Kadin Turner; (top right) Wynter Horrell (right) receives her vocational award from Waitaki district councillor Hana Halalele at the Waitaki Girls' High School prizegiving, watched by deputy principal Margaret Williams; (bottom left) Henry Guerin received his vocational award from St Kevin's College principal Paul Olsen. PHOTOS: SUPPLIED

Oamaru secondary schools joined others throughout New Zealand in presenting the inaugural prime minister’s vocational excellence award at their senior prizegivings.

The awards acknowledge pupils making a successful transition from school into the workforce.

The St Kevin’s College recipient was Henry Guerin. He earned it by gaining a merit endorsement in NCEA level 2 and a vocational award in primary industries. He passed NCEA level 3, came first in materials technology, played rugby in the 1st XV, and attained a silver service award.

Henry spent two years in the school’s primary industries trades academy, learning skills including farm vehicle driving and safety, fencing and animal handling.

He undertook work experience with a fencing contractor and on a sheep and beef farm, and completed a diesel automotive level 3 gateway programme of study and work experience at Johnson Gluyas.

Henry’s excellent work ethic was combined with great mentoring by experienced staff, his teachers said.

He hoped to complete a dairy industry apprenticeship, and had already spent his $2000 vocational prize on a chainsaw.

Waitaki Boys’ High School head of technology Rick Suter said the prime minister’s office urged schools to give the award due significance, because it was as important as academic honours.

He nominated Kadin Turner for the Waitaki Boys’ prize.

“He was a real top practical kid right through school,” Mr Suter said.

Kadin was placed with Oamaru building firm Kennard Construction. It was such a good fit he took up full-time work there at the end of the third term and is embarking on a four-year carpentry apprenticeship.

Kadin said it was “pretty good” to be the first recipient of the award.

“It’s the first big thing I’ve won,” he said.

The Waitaki Girls’ High School award went to Wynter Horrell.

“Wynter is a very worthy recipient of this inaugural award,” principal Tracy Walker said.

“She has overcome many challenges and not let them be a barrier to her achievements.

“She has passed NCEA level 3 and next year plans to study at Otago Polytechnic for a certificate in social services.

“Wynter has taken vocational subjects this year including gateway, transition and tourism. As part of her gateway course she has undertaken a work placement at Fenwick Primary School.

“She is a motivated and resilient student and her academic achievements are thoroughly deserved and also show that she has made great use of the vocational pathways offered her while still at school,” Ms Walker said.