Class Act 2023: Taieri College

Philippa King


Philippa King, 18, has not yet found the job or company she would like to work for, but she will be an asset to any workplace.

The Duke of Edinburgh silver and bronze award winner from Taieri College has subject awards in geography, maths and music and is a school environmental prefect.

College field trips to Mt Cook and Otago Peninsula to research the wildlife helped fuel her passion for environmental science and geography.

‘‘I’ve always liked geography and the environment, and chemistry. I want to do more research and I enjoy the science behind it,’’ Philippa said.

Caring for the Earth and animals is a priority.

As environmental prefect, she has encouraged other pupils to become ‘‘eco-warriors’’ through efforts to give back to the environment, such as planting trees with the Silverstream Planting Project.

Visiting the Penguin Place on Otago Peninsula, was a highlight for her.

‘‘I loved the penguins. At the reserve they had a rehabilitation area and we got to see them being nursed back to health. That was cool.’’

Since 2021, Philippa has been part of a Dunedin club team called Jump Start Aerobics, which combines dance and gymnastics.

She has travelled to Australia with the New Zealand Sports Aerobics team and recently competed in The Federation of International Sports Aerobics and Fitness Pacific Open, where her team placed third.

‘‘I really love performing.’’

In addition to coaching school netball and being a junior class and camp leader, she coaches young aerobics athletes.

She enjoys introducing year 7 and 8 pupils to the sport and watching them work hard to achieve their goals.

Next year Philippa plans to study geography and chemistry at the University of Otago.


Achievements: NCEA Level 1 and 2 endorsed with excellence; environmental prefect (2023); junior class leader (2023); camp leader (2023); sports blues (2022); academic blues (2021, 2022); orchestra and chamber music 2021, 2022); jazz band (2022, 2023); Duke of Edinburgh bronze (2021), silver (2022); netball coach (2021); subject awards, geography (2021, 2022), maths (2022), music (2021, 2022); aerobics, most promising in region (2021), 1st pre-choreographed at nationals (2021), national fitness team (2023); most talented Taieri College pianist (2022). 

Role models: Her parents and piano teacher for ‘‘always encouraging me to do my best and pursue my passions and goals’’.

Hopes for the future: To do more travelling and further studies overseas.


Caitlin Stewart


Caitlin Stewart hopes to pirouette her way to success.

The young dancer, who has been taking ballet classes since she was 5, has been awarded Taieri College’s Blues Award for dance for the past four years.

Caitlin trains up to 12 hours every week leading up to dance competitions. She has level 13 in contemporary and hip-hop dance, which includes modern jazz, and advanced 2 in ballet.

She has also competed at the National Young Performer Awards, as a soloist and in group events, since 2019.

Although the 18-year-old was offered a place at the prestigious Brent Street Performing Arts School in Sydney, she was not able to accept.

‘‘I was really excited to get that but I had to turn it down for next year as it was too expensive,’’ she said.

‘‘I’d like to apply again when I’ve had a chance to save.’’

Becoming a professional dancer is Caitlin’s main goal.

Next year, she aims to go to the New Zealand School of Dance, in Wellington, or possibly to Sydney, to train there.

She has been determined to engage with visiting and international dance companies to gain more understanding of the dance world.

‘‘Recently, I spent a week in Christchurch doing dance at the British Ballet Organisation dance days. It gave me a real insight into dance and what opportunities are out there.’’

Caitlin also took a class with the SCIMM Dance Company, of Melbourne, when company members visited New Zealand.

She credits her dance teacher as a role model and with providing her with a love of dance.

‘‘I really love the freedom you get from it and the enjoyment.

‘‘My dance teacher, she knows what the dance world is like and the places to go to.’’

A school staff member said of Caitlin that she was ‘‘calm, mature, kind, caring and conscientious’’.

Caitlin is looking forward to next year — to having more time to train and practise her dance — and where it might lead.


Achievements: NCEA level 1 endorsed with excellence; level 2 endorsed with excellence; deputy head prefect, arts (2023); junior class 
leader; Wellbeing Ambassador (2023); 40 Hour Challenge (2023); Arts Council treasurer (2023); academic blues (2021, 2022); college orchestra and chamber music (2022); school production (2021); Blues Award, dance (2019, 2020, 2021, 2022); National Young Performer Awards (2019, 2022, 2023).

Role Models: Dance teacher Shannon Cunningham and former Taieri College pupil and dancer Rebecca Murray.

Hopes for the future: To be a professional dancer.