In a day fraught with political controversy, Prime Minister
John Key appeared to be at relative ease during yesterday's
2014 Otago Daily Times Class Act awards, basking in the glow
of Otago's top secondary school achievers.
He told the 58 outstanding pupils from 29 secondary schools
it was the sixth time he had attended the Class Act ceremony
at the Dunedin Public Art Gallery, and he looked forward to
it each year because it was an opportunity to celebrate each
new generation of New Zealanders coming through.
''They will be great leaders for our nation in the years
Mr Key praised this year's award recipients and gave credit
to their parents and teachers for guiding them in the right
He also shared some sage words of advice: ''Have really big
dreams and big ambitions.''
''My big thing for you would be for you to go on and become a
great leader in New Zealand.
''There's lots and lots of potential that you have and we
have a great need for what you're doing.''
Otago Daily Times editor Murray Kirkness said events such as
Class Act provided a ray of light in a world where more
newspapers were sold if they were filled with trauma and
tragedy, tears and fears.
''So, to our Class Act 2014 recipients I say: You may not
realise it, but you already inspire and encourage those of us
''The world is yours for the taking. Grasp your
opportunities. Continue to strive to achieve.
''Refuse to yield. Be humble. But most of all, keep the sun
Class Act was established in 2000 by former Otago Daily Times
editor Robin Charteris because the newspaper felt, and
continues to feel, excellence should be encouraged.
As such, the criterion given to schools when nominating Class
Act recipients is simply, excellence.
Academic, sporting, social, artistic or cultural excellence,
leadership qualities, or a combination of those, was the
standard by which pupils were nominated.
The 2014 award winners now join the ranks of the 837 other
Otago school pupils who have won Class Act awards since they
were established in 2000.
Class Act recipient Kasper Humphrey, of Mount Aspiring
College, in Wanaka, said the ceremony was an ''incredible
acknowledgement'' of the hard work and dedication he had
given in recent years.
''It's been really humbling. It's just awesome.''
Bart Lind, of Taieri College, was also delighted by the
recognition and said it had provided a ''unique experience''.
''It's a great way to reflect on what's happened, and what's
going to happen in the future.''