The school’s principal, Mark Nicholas, says the Rarotongan students not only found the programme testing, but homesickness and the cold in winter were also hard to bear.
But Nicholas said the school was now proud to announce that both Sam Taraeka and Reef Rangi had passed NCEA Level 1 and NCEA Level 2 in their Year 9.
“These results are indeed a fine testament to a great opportunity, perseverance and personal sacrifice,” he said.
Nicholas says the scholarship will be offered to Cook Islands students again in 2019, but successful applicants will have to be made of the right stuff to succeed.
“The programme is very challenging. Our college pupils get up at 5am and train until 7.30 each morning.
“Showers and breakfast are then taken to be ready for pure at 8.30am and then school. After school they play games, twice a week, sometimes away and then further practice on two other days.
“The curriculum itself is extraordinary, involving much travel throughout the country. We adopt a hands-on practical approach and follow individual education plans for each student using every possible learning opportunity as well as every institution available. It is full on and requires considerable grit.
“However, we are about making champions and fulfilling each student’s potential. A no pain, no gain attitude rules.”
Nicholas says the school’s ingredients for success stem from “te reo Maori, high expectations, overboard support, 21st-century learning imperatives, environment-based and peu tupuna-based curricula, highly qualified staff and counsellors, whanau-based education, cultural and pastoral care, good old, traditional hard work and a never-surrender attitude”.
He added that this formula allowed the school to win the NZ National Secondary Schools Girl Championships in 2015, irrespective of the fact there were only 12 girls in the college at the time.
“It is the reason too our school last year held the highest percentage pass rates in NCEA across all of New Zealand,” said Nicholas.
“These feats are not small and when coupled with the 2018 Education Review Office report (yet to be published), shows the school does provide high-quality education.
“We are proud to offer Education/Basketball Scholarships for Cook Islands students again in 2019, but we will have to be selective.”