Class Act 2023: East Otago High School

Abigail Paton


Abigail Paton is ready to tackle her next challenge — studying physiotherapy.

The East Otago High School head is a passionate rugby player with a love for Jesus.

"I just love playing," she says.

Her proudest achievement is making the Otago Spirit squad for two consecutive years.

She is also proud of being part of the Under-18 Otago girls team that beat Canterbury in the South Island tournament — the first time the team had won the tournament in 14 years.

Abigail is also heavily involved in touch rugby.

She has played for Otago for several years and is now using her skills to coach others.

She is the captain of the school’s senior team and coaches the year 7 and 8 team.

Church is also a massive part of Abigail’s life.

She says Jesus is her biggest role model and she tries to live by his example in the Bible.

Abigail plans to study physiotherapy at the University of Otago.

Her ultimate goal is to coach elite sports teams overseas or use her knowledge to benefit her missionary work.

Abigail says her biggest role models, aside from Jesus, are her parents.

She is appreciative of her mother for pushing her outside of her comfort zone.

Her father acted as a grounding force with good advice and a strong work ethic.


Achievements: Head girl (2023); NCEA levels 1 and 2 with excellence (2021, 22); overall excellence award (2017-22); senior girls cross-country champion (2021); EOHS contribution to sport trophy (2021); EOHS all-round sportsperson of the year (2021, 22); sports blue for touch (2021), rugby (2021, 22); David Murray prize for contribution to the school and community in an education sense (2021, 2022); 
sports captain (2021, 22); citizenship award (2022); senior girls athletics champion (2022); most valuable rugby player (2022); EOHS spirit award (2022); Courtney Duncan Cup (2022); EOHS sportsperson of the year, female (2022); Waihemo Council senior speech trophy (2022);  Jubilee Cup for achievement in year 12 (2022); BOT representative (2022); house captain (2021, 2022); senior girls touch rugby captain (2020-22); Otago touch representative (2018, 2019, 2021, 2022); U18 Otago rugby representative (2021, 22); Otago Spirit representative (2022, 23); Christian Youth Camps youth leader (2018-23); student council (2018-22); Challenge Wanaka (2021, 2023); Southern Lakes half marathon (2022); Outward Bound (2023);  peer support leader (2023)

Role models: Jesus and her parents.

Hopes for the future: Study physiotherapy at the University of Otago.


Ashley Robinson


Ashley Robinson is not one to follow the herd.

The 18-year-old East Otago High School head pupil is planning to pursue a career in farming.

She is passionate about agriculture and hopes to work on a sheep, beef and deer farm.

Her whole life has been spent on or around the family farm, a sheep, beef and deer station that she one day hopes to run.

She particularly likes working with deer because of their emotional sensitivity and impressive intelligence.

She is not alone in her love of farming. It is a love that has been passed down through generations.

"It’s kind of been bred into me. I fell in love with it and decided that’s the way I want to go," she says.

She also enjoys the production side of farming.

The family farm has merino sheep for their wool and deer for their velvet, and Ashley enjoys knowing something great is going to be made from it.

She hopes to pursue further education before entering the workforce, although she is unsure whether she will pursue tertiary training at Telford or get a cadetship to learn on the job.

Ashley has a strong focus on family and says her parents and grandfather are her biggest role models.

They are hard-working people who support her and encourage her to pursue her dreams, she says.

Ashley also has a passion for visual art, particularly painting and drawing.

Inspired by the farm and surrounding area, the 2022 visual arts prefect has a strong creative focus on landscapes.

Ashley has always enjoyed art but her passion was rekindled in year 11 when she was taking art in school.

"It’s bubbled into something I really love," she says.

Her art helps her connect to the land and ground herself after a long day of farmwork.


Achievements: Head girl (2023); NCEA levels 1 and 2 with merit; peer support leader (2023); student council representative (2017-19, 2021-23); Anzac Day pupil representative (2023); visual arts prefect (2022); house captain (2021, 2022); junior volleyball coach (2020-22); school-wide positive  behaviour for learning representative (2022-23); citizenship award (2021-22); overall excellence (2017-18); overall merit (2019, 2021-22); Beauty and the Beast junior production (2019); Footloose production (2023).

Role models: Her mum, dad and grandfather, Murray.

Hopes for the future: To work on a sheep, beef and deer farm.