Class Act 2023: Maniototo Area School

Emma Kinney


"Don't let uncertainty or nerves get in the way of an opportunity — just do it."

That is the advice from 17-year-old Maniototo Area School pupil Emma Kinney, who says some of her best experiences have come from just giving things a go.

Emma aims to study for a bachelor of science at the University of Otago next year, majoring in mathematics and minoring in physics before turning her attention to teaching.

She wants to help her future pupils share her love of mathematics.

"Inspiring others, providing opportunity and watching them grow in knowledge is something I am very passionate about," she said.

Emma says mathematics is not well represented in schools and she has, at times, struggled to enjoy the subject.

"I have met a lot of people who struggle with maths. This is my time to go out and make a difference."

As a pupil of an area school there were limitations to pursuing her love of mathematics. This year she is taking calculus and statistics online.

While she is isolated in her learning, she says it has made her a better pupil, giving her control over her own learning.

Her experience as a swimmer and pool lifeguard is a way for Emma to give back to her community and to hone her skills as a teacher.

"[Swim teaching] inspires me to make a difference in the world of swimming abilities."

Emma was awarded her lifeguard certificate last year and is now pursuing her AUSTswim swim-teaching qualification.


Achievements: NCEA Level 1 with merit (2021); NCEA level 2 with excellence (2022); Service Industries Vocational Pathway (2022); J.A. Becker Trophy (2021); hockey (2021-23); school netball team (2021-22); school curling team (2021-22); swimming senior girls champion (2022); Otago cross-country championships (2022); hockey MVP (2022); contribution to netball umpiring (2022); NZSS curling bronze medal (2022); first in senior girls’ school athletics (2023); Otago athletics championships (2023); first in swimming sports (2023); New Zealand Young Farmers leadership pathway certificate (2021); Borland Lodge Lions leadership camp (2022); school prefect (2022-23); 
house leader (2022-23); student council (2022-23); netball umpire (2022); netball coach (2022); Duke of Edinburgh bronze (2021); pool lifeguard practising certificate (2022); child protection in play, active recreation and sport certificate (2022); Duke of Edinburgh silver (2023); AUSTswim teaching programme (2023); grade 8 speech and drama (2023).

Role model: Her parents, who are her biggest inspiration.

Hopes for the future: To train as a secondary school teacher and receive her water safety teacher’s licence.


Kassidy Pont


A drive to help others and a unique perspective on rural healthcare are tools Kassidy Pont will take with her when she studies towards a bachelor of nursing at Otago Polytechnic next year.

The 18-year-old Maniototo Area School pupil says her admiration for nurses began when she saw her mum receive treatment for lymphoma.

"[I] looked up to the nurses who made her chemotherapy journey so much more bearable."

Nursing is an opportunity to have a positive impact on people and their whānau, Kassidy says.

"I want to provide care, comfort, and support to patients during challenging times."

She has already been able to make a positive impact in her community by volunteering at Ranfurly Hospital once a week and has loved every minute.

She says volunteering has developed her patient care, interpersonal skills and cultural awareness.

"It has made me even more in awe of what nurses do for our community."

Living in a small rural community all her life has given Kassidy a unique perspective on the importance of healthcare.

"We rely very heavily on these services, living where we do."

This year, Kassidy completed her level two first aid course.

Her accomplishments have helped her develop her sense of self-confidence.

"[They] make you feel like the hard mahi that you have put in was worth it."

Kassidy says her sister, Madi, is her role model and has supported her on her journey.

"She has been a pillar of support, providing guidance and encouragement."

Being able to see how Madi navigated challenges and triumphs taught Kassidy about perseverance and inner strength.

In the future, Kassidy hopes to specialise in Māori healthcare and help improve health outcomes for Māori.


Achievements: Central Otago hockey U15 representative (2019-20); Central Otago hockey U18 representative (2021-22); Dunstan High School 1st XI (2019-22), tournament team (2021-23); hockey umpire for Maniototo Area School (2021-22); second place senior athletics; second school swim sports; second school road race; fair play award area schools tournament (2022); area schools national tournament team (2021-22); community radio; Relay for Life fundraiser; Umbers Award for Service (2021-22); head  pupil (2023); prefect (2022); house leader (2022); Mana Pounamu junior award (2021); Mana Pounamu senior award (2022); Kapa Haka Kaea; Duke of Edinburgh bronze; Maniototo Area School cultural award (2021-22).

Hopes for the future: To specialise in Māori health and improve health outcomes for Māori.

Role model: Her sister for her support, kindness and intelligence.