Eleven-year-old Theresa Kaukura is excited.
She’s just been’ awarded Dux at St Joseph’s School, and now she’s being interviewed by Cook Islands News.
“I wasn’t expecting it, I was astonished,” she says. “Without me praying to God, maybe someone else would have won it”.
Kaukura was delighted to receive a 22-carat gold bracelet with New Zealand paua, donated by the New Zealand High Commission.
Around to the east at Takitumu, newly-acknowledged Dux Teina Vogel says: “It’s cool, it’s the best experience.”
He encourages his schoolmates to concentrate on their school work and listen to instructions. Vogel loves the knowledge he learns at school and the wisdom he receives from God.
A little further down the road in the breezy Gibeona Sunday School, open to the fresh air, Apii Te Uki Ou is holding its prizegiving.
Principal Mark Harris speaks of the joy of seeing changes in lives – not just of the growing children, but of their parents and families, confident in their children’s happiness and well-being. “Our school values integrity.”
In the audience is well-known singer Stan Walker, looking proud as his partner Alex King's daughter receives an award.
Xarean Temana Bates is named Te Uki Ou Dux. Weighed down in a tower of ei, she dances with her family.
Bates has been at Te Uki Ou since preschool. “I count myself lucky,” she tells her schoolmates and their families, “lucky to be given the opportunity to learn well, to discover and to grow.”
She especially acknowledges teacher Iantha Mutu, who returns to New Zealand this summer. “Thank you very much for caring, and for encouraging me.”
Mutu is similarly moved by the award. Her student Temana is both “beautifully talented and very humble,” Mutu says. “And she’s got a very dry sense of humour and all her peers, they love her for it.”
At Apii Nikao. Dreena Willie-Teapa feels amazing accepting the Dux award and has this advice for the up-coming senior students: “Work had and try not to fail, always push yourself and never give up, pay attention in class and have some fun.”
Ketia Kiliuyi was awarded the Dux of Apii Avarua the previous night, and it feeling excited and happy. “My parents were very proud. Always study and don’t be afraid,” she says.
Apii Nikao Year 8 awards
Best Attendance 2nd Aiturau class, 1st Manuela class, Tapere Shield 2nd runner up with 7948 points Turama, 1st runner up with 8385 points Pokoinu, 2019 Tapere Champion with 8488 points Tepuka.
Sports Girl of the Year 1st runner up Kayla Marama Fraser, Sports Girl of the Year Louireina Samson, Sports boy of the year 1st runner up Sepa Ioane, Sports Boy of the Year Duke Tokorangi, Top Student in Mathematics Dreena Willie-Teapa, Top Student in English Charlie-Rose Matai, Top Student in Maori Mataturua e te au Margaret Herrmann-Tuaivi, Top in Topic Study Dreena Willie-Teapa, Most Improved Senior Student Jabez Tagivakatini, Tu Rangatira award (prefects) Dreena Willie-Teapa, Most Outstanding Student (Academic, Community Services, Culture and Sports) Dreena Willie-Teapa, 2nd Runner up Dux Lorriane Dolson, 1st equal Runner up Dux Charlie-Rose Matai and Mataturua e te au Margaret Herrmann-Tuaivi, Apii Nikao Dux Dreena Willie-Teapa, Principals award Kahl Frederick and Kayla-Marama Fraser.
Apii Takitumu Senior awards
Dux Teina Vogel, Runner up Dux Kahana Ellison, Most Outstanding Eikura Albert, Senior Te Kaveinga o te Apii Takitumu (citizenship award) Kahana Ellison. Senior Maths Noovao Blake. Senior Maori award Tauariki Nia, Senior Creative writing Holly Johnston, Senior sportsperson Jacob Toa, Senior Performing Arts Sounuu Kaveao Gempton, Senior Visual Arts Teina Vogel.
Apii Avarua Senior awards.
Top Maori student Tofena Tome, Highest achiever in English Ketia Kiliuyi, Highest achiever in Mathematics Stanley Tutai, Principal’s award Mere-Jean Piri, Sport boy champion Aurametua Vavia, Sport girl champion Maria Patia, Most improved student Aurametua Vavia, Most outstanding student Maihanarei Short, 2nd runner up Dux Lilyana Mataitini, 1st Runner Up Dux Stanley Tutai, Dux of the year Ketia Kiliuyi. Teacher of the year award Elizabeth Takaia,
St Joseph’s school awards
Certificate of excellence: Melody Tommy Academic Excellence in Religion, English Literacy, Reading and Oral Language, Maori Language and Culture, Mathematics Numeracy, Merits in Science, Social Science, Performing and Visual Arts, and Sports (Runner up Dux; Student of the Academic Year 2019. School Dux Theresa Kaukura.