Class Act Awards

By Arnika Hazelwood and Jane Johnson and ODT | Posted: Sunday May 28, 2017

Congratulations to Ahi Kaitai-Mullane and Oscar McGuire for their Class Act Awards.

Oscar and Ahi were presented their awards by Prime Minister Bill English at a special ceremony at the Dunedin Art Gallery on Thursday the 3rd of August.

The Otago Daily Times Class Act Awards recognise Excellence and Outstanding Achievements. You can read some of Ahi and Oscar's achievements later in this article. 

Mr English acknowledged the pupils had to face new pressures, including those posed by social media, but said the recipients were well poised to handle life’s challenges.

"Because of your mix of a very good education, Kiwi qualities of being problem-solvers, being pragmatic, being able to get on with people, being able to work in teams, you can go anywhere and that sets a high bar for us to focus on making New Zealand an interesting enough place where you can realise your talents."

University of Otago vice-chancellor Harlene Hayne told the pupils to "never lose sight of the pursuit of excellence that has brought you where you are today".

Prof Hayne encouraged the pupils to consider contributing to the University of Otago’s atmosphere of excellence by studying there next year.

She also acknowledged the work of the families of the 2017 Class Act cohort.

"As a parent myself, I know that this level of success does not happen by accident. Your son’s or your daughter’s success is granted in a large part to their own work, but it is also a reflection of your consistent love and support."

Following the presentation the pupils had a chance to talk to the prime minster, city councillors and local MPs.

All Class Act recipients were awarded University of Otago Leaders of Tomorrow scholarships.

The scholarships offered a minimum of $6000 towards study at the university and there was scope for pupils to receive more depending on how well they did, Prof Hayne said.

This year, 34 of last year’s Class Act recipients are attending Otago University.

Oscar McGuire and some of his achievements:

Oscar McGuire thrives on the stage. Whether it is performing at United Nations national Youth Debates, the regional secondary school debating contests or delivering a Shakespearean dialogue on stage, the Logan Park High School Head Boy always aims to inspire his audiences and to challenge their thinking.

Having won the 2017 Shakespearean Contests with his fellow thespians, Oscar was selected to represent Otago at the national secondary Schools’ Shakespeare Festival in Wellington. Oscar has taken on the complex lead role as Lady Macbeth’s alter ego or masculine “hidden” side, debating the ethical issues of killing a Scottish king for personal gain. It is in such roles that Oscar combines his honed skills of debating and compelling theatre performance.

In his role this year as a debating prefect, Oscar has also enjoyed coaching and adjudicating junior school debating and in 2016, demonstrating show debates for Dunedin secondary schools. As Head Boy, Oscar’s public speaking and debating skills have been much appreciated at many school events. His debating skills have also led to regional and national representation. Selected in 2016 as one of four NZ secondary students to participate in the UN Youth Debates at the University of Sydney and in a separate UN event in Wellington, Brisbane and Samoa, Oscar has gained valuable, international-level experience in UN conflict-resolution and diplomacy strategies. As Oscar noted, his UN experience has helped him explore complex political issues through the eyes of many different national perspectives.

History is also a passion for Oscar and it is a thread which combines well with many of his UN debates and speeches. Oscar has excelled as an academic student, achieving both NCEA levels 1 and 2 with Excellence and adding to this outstanding profile by gaining two national Scholarships in History and English in Year 12.

Since his primary school years, Oscar has studied Speech and Drama privately and has won Honours, Distinctions, High Achievers’ awards, top in grade and Scholarships from Trinity College Speech and Drama exams. On achieving his ATCL with Distinction in 2016, Oscar was asked to perform his exam monologue from Richard III at the Dunedin Trinity College Award ceremony in 2017.

Oscar plans to study Law and Arts major in 2018 at the University of Otago next year, in the hope of pursuing a career in public service.

Achievements: Head boy (2017); house and peer support leader (2017); Debating and Drama Prefect (2017) NCEA Level 1 and 2 with excellence; NZ Scholarships in History and English (2016); ATCL Distinction, Trinity College Speech and Drama exams (2016); NZ UN Youth Representative at University of Sydney Evatt Competition (2016) and the UN Youth Pacific Project in Brisbane and Samoa (2016); UN Youth Declaration Otago representative, Auckland (2016- 2017); 1st Lions Regional Speech contest (2017); Runner-up in Otago/Southland secondary schools debating contest (2016); Cup for Most Promising Speaker in Otago/Southland Russell McVeagh Debating contest (2016); Member of the regional Debating Development squad (2016); “Best Student-Directed, five-minute piece at the regional Shakespeare Festival (2017); Fortune Theatre Ambassador (2017); Dunedin Fringe Festival actor in world premiere of “Black Edge to Nowhere” by Simon Wilkinson (2016).

Ahi Kaitai-Mullane and some of her achievements: 

Having achieved NCEA levels 1 and 2 with Excellence and achieved a Drama national Scholarship as a Year 12 student, Ahi can look forward to a high-achieving future in the Arts and Sciences. She has earned two top awards in the 2016-7 NZ Biology Olympiad, represented Otago in two Shakespearean national Festivals and performed as a finalist last year at the national Ngā Manu Kōrero Speech contest.

Proud of her Kai Tahu descent, Ahi is one of Logan Park’s Wahine Kaitiaki, as well as a busy Drama and Academic Prefect. This year during her Study periods, she has set up a new NCEA Tutoring programme with two other senior student tutors to help any senior student with their learning. Ahi is also a volunteer Peer Reading tutor for junior students and an active member of the LPHS Tupuranga Committee, a Maori and Pasifica student leadership group.

A keen scientist, Ahi has enrolled in the recent New Zealand Bio Olympiad program and been awarded both a Bronze and Silver for her success, ranking top 25 in New Zealand. Selected for the 2016 University of Otago “Hands-on” Science Summer School on a Ngā mahi-a-ringa Pūtaiao Scholarship, Ahi enjoyed expanding her network of students looking at Science as a tertiary and career pathway. As a Year 10 and 11 student, Ahi took part in the Otago University Science Wānanga Programme on a scholarship.

As a senior student, Ahi won the regional Ngā Manu Kōrero English prepared and impromptu speeches and represented Otago at the 2016 National contest in Whangerei: this year Ahi was placed first in the prepared speech in the regional contest.

Having experienced the exhilaration of performing in front of a national audience, Ahi has challenged herself further with a lead part in the national 2017 Shakespearean Festival after winning the regional Shakespearean contest in the five-minute, student-directed section. Taking the part of a troubled Lady Macbeth, Ahi based her direction of the “Macbeth” extract on a clever concept, where Lady Macbeth’s internal struggle to justify her murderous intention is performed by both male and female actors.

Ahi’s other significant theatre experiences have included being part of the 2015 cast of the teacher-directed, bilingual “Othello” at the 2015 national Shakespearean Festival. Judged by Patrick Spottiswoode from the London Globe, this LPHS production was awarded “Best Piece” of the NZ Festival. In 2016 Ahi played a part in the world premiere of Simon Wilkinson’s play “Beyond the Bright Black Edge to Nowhere” at the Dunedin Fringe Arts Festival. Drawing on these influential theatre experiences, she became a Fortune Theatre school Ambassador in 2017.

Ahi plans to do a BASc at Otago University next year, studying both biology and theatre to pursue a creative and intellectually stimulating career in either genetics or theatrical performance.


Maori, Academic and Drama Prefect, Fortune Theatre Ambassador (2017)NCEA 1 and 2 endorsed with Excellence; NZ Scholarship in Drama (2016), Bronze and Silver Awards in the NZ Bio Olympiad (2016 & 2017); University of Otago Hands-on Summer School Maori Scholarship (2016); Winner of the regional Shakespeare Festivals 2015 & 2017; national Shakespearean Festival representative 2015 & 17;”Best Piece” award at the 2015 national Shakespearean Festival; 2016 Fortune Theatre Shakespeare 82-hour Read-through participant; Dunedin & LPHS Theatre-sports events (2014-16); regional winner of the Ngā Manu Kōrero English prepared & impromptu Speech ( 2016); winner of the prepared speech (2016); Cast member of the World Premiere of “Beyond the Bright Black Edge of Nowhere” at the 2016 Dunedin Fringe Arts Festival; Junior Show Stage Manager 2016; qualified Futsal referee and Sports coach; Stage Challenge dancer (2013-15); Academic Tutoring and peer Reading programmes at LPHS (2017); Volunteer at University Bookshop Story-time Train and Dunedin Public Library Storylines Programme.

Image Gallery