Class Act 2023: Cromwell College

Kaia Hutchinson


Helping people has always been at the forefront of Kaia Hutchinson’s mind.

From a young age, the 18-year-old Cromwell College pupil wanted to pursue a profession in which she could use her skills to help people.

‘‘I am interested in the human brain and psychology,’’ Kaia said.

‘‘I want to be part of new research and developments around the human brain that can help people with neurological disorders.’’

One path stood out when she was considering her options for the future.

‘‘When I was looking into all the study pathways I could take at university, I came across the Otago University neuroscience course.’’

She decided then that was the career path she wanted to take.

This was cemented by the National Rotary Science and Technology Forum in Auckland, which she attended this year.

‘‘I got an insight into life at university and the different science subjects that I could take.’’

This built up her excitement and passion towards studying neuroscience.

Her decision to pursue her dreams at Otago was helped by her family’s history with the university.

Her late grandfather was former Dunedin mayor Dave Cull, who attended the university and inspired Kaia to apply and study there.

‘‘I know that he would be very supportive of my chosen path of study and that he will always be proud of me.’’

Kaia already has experience using her skills to help others, having been a member of St John Youth for the past eight years.

‘‘During that time I have learned extensive first-aid skills that helped spark my interest in pursuing a career where I would be able to help people.’’


Achievements: NCEA Level 1 with merit (2021); NCEA Level 2 with excellence (2022); Rotary Science Forum (2023); St John Youth Grand Prior Award (2022); Bronze Duke of Edinburgh Award; Silver Duke of Edinburgh Award; Whanau School Leaders Council (2023); Cromwell College Cup for diligence (2022); Cromwell College premier award for top academic pupil in year 12 (2022); faculty excellence award for high achievement in distance learning (2022); outstanding achievement in education outside of school (2022); karate black belt (2023); Student Volunteer Army (2023); Student Council (2017-23); Pride Council (2023).

Role model: My grandfather and former mayor of Dunedin, Dave Cull.

Hopes for the future: To be part of research and development that can help people with neurological disorders.


Angus Drinnan


Angus Drinnan hopes his love of science and maths can give him a career which will one day take him around the world.

The 17-year-old Cromwell College head pupil will study towards a bachelor of engineering at the University of Canterbury next year, looking to specialise in civil engineering.

Angus says he has always had a love of the outdoors.

‘‘I enjoy the sciences and maths because it challenges my thinking and problem-solving.’’

While he had many different career aspirations through his life, his interest in maths and physics swayed him towards engineering.

‘‘Getting to see projects come to life that I help to design ... sounds exciting.’’

Angus says his achievements during high school helped him to decide on a career, as they gave him opportunities to find what interested him.

Becoming academic prefect this year, having achieved NCEA level 1 with merit and NCEA level 2 with excellence, means Angus is well set up to pursue a degree in engineering.

‘‘My achievements in my school subjects have helped me to narrow down my interests and decide what career interests me most.’’

Angus completed his bronze and silver Duke of Edinburgh awards and is working towards his gold award.

He has been involved in the Cromwell Hockey Club as a player, coach and umpire and has been selected for several Central Otago representative teams.

Angus sees volunteering as a way to repay the club that has supported him for many years.

‘‘Coaching and umpiring meant I could share my passion for the game and help to strengthen hockey for future years.’’


Achievements: Head  pupil (2023); 2023 academic prefect (2023); NCEA Level 1 with merit endorsed (2021); NCEA level 2 with excellence endorsed (2022); coach and umpire of senior reserve B hockey team (2023); captain of senior reserve A hockey team 
(2023); 2018 Sir Peter Blake Young Leader Award; 2020 Cromwell Rotary Club award; Pioneer Energy excellence in science scholarship (2022); New Zealand Economics Competition (University of Auckland Business School) achieved with credit (2022); Rawley 
hockey award (2020); Central Otago U15 hockey (2021); Tania Trusler hockey award (2022); Central Otago U18 hockey (2022-23); first XI cricket; junior boys’ volleyball award (2020); intercollegiate golf tournament (2021, 23); Cromwell College quad team 2018-19, 23); William Pike Challenge award; Duke of Edinburgh Hillary award, bronze (2021); Duke of Edinburgh Hillary award, silver (2022); youth representative for Automobile Association Central Otago board of trustees; youth representative on Central Otago Hockey Association board of trustees.

Role models: His parents, because they always act with integrity and kindness. 

Hopes for the future: To study engineering at the University of Canterbury.