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Dunstan High School head girl Brooke Williams says her extended family’s focus on serving the community has influenced her to explore a career as a warfare officer in the Royal New Zealand Navy.
Brooke says all her family members have helped her, but her parents Maria and Sam Williams, and her Alexandra-based grandmother Valmai Breen, were her most significant role models.
"My parents for sure have paved the way for the person I am now and all my morals. But the person who stands out is my nana, Valmai Breen. She lives in Alexandra.
"My nana is a phenomenally driven person and she is very involved in the community. She gives back to people, she’s a very kind person, a coach, everyone looks to her for advice, including me, and I would like to be like her," Brooke said.
Brooke loves sports and is seeking a sporting and academic career.
She loved a recent tour of New Zealand’s naval base in Devonport, Auckland.
"I was very excited. I was fan-girling the whole time. I really did discover that is was for me. At the moment, I am sitting in the candidate pool to be chosen by a selection board for further interviews in October."
At school, Brooke shines in the music department, where she is a confident singer and plays the guitar.
Brooke is of Samoan descent, through her grandfather Hugh Williams, and enjoyed being a member of the school’s kapa haka group because it kept her connected with people from other cultures, she said.
Achievements: Head girl (2021); NCEA level 1 (2019), level (2) excellence; merit, 2nd music, 2nd social studies, 3rd in English, 3rd equal science (2017); merit, 1st social studies, 1st design visual communication 4, 1st music 1, 2nd science (2018); merit with distinction, 1st health and physical education, 1st maths and statistics, 2nd English 1, 3rd equal music (2019); merit with distinction, 1st physical education, 2nd maths and statistics (2020). Rowing: South Island Secondary Schools, gold U15 octuple/bronze novice quad (2018); gold U15 octuple/gold U15 quad/silver U15 four (2019); silver U17 quad/silver U16 quad/bronze U16 four (2020); silver U17 quad (2021); Maadi Cup, gold U15 octuple (2018); gold U15 octuple/gold U15 quad (2019); South Island clubs, gold U15 octuple/gold U15 quad (2019); silver women’s premier coxed eight/bronze U17 quad (2021); NZ Championships, silver women’s coxed eight (2019); gold women’s club coxed eight (2020); South Island clubs, gold women’s coxed eight/gold U16 four/silver U16 quad (2020); Otago interprovincial team (2019, 2020); Dunstan High rowing (2017-21); Dunstan Arm Rowing Club (2017-21). Netball: senior A (2020-21); senior B (2020); senior reserve (2019); 10A (2018); 9A (2017); Central Otago representative netball (2017-18); girls 1st XV rugby (2020); Dunstan High athletics (2017); Otago secondary U14 1st javelin (2017); Otago Southland secondary U14 3rd javelin (2017); Shukokai Karate Do 1st Kyu (2017); Dunstanza (Big Sing) (2017); Dunstanza senior girls (Big Sing, Cadenza) (2019); school musical (2018, 2019), arts committee (2020, 2021); Kapa Haka (2017); Pyke House waiata leader for haka competition (2020, 2021); lead school waiata at powhiri (2021); Pyke House swimming, athletics, cross country, choral fest, haka fest, dance-off (2021); junior girls swimming champion (2017); senior girl athletics champ (2020); Dunstanza blue (2018); rowing blue (2019); Dunstanza bar (2019); Rowing bar (2020); Dunstanza senior girls blue (2020); rowing bar (2021); Dunstanza senior girls bar (2021); Mt Aspiring Camp 10X leader (2021); Salvation Army volunteering (2021); formal committee (2021); school council (2021); Outward Bound Scholarship (2020); Arthritis Appeal (2017).
Role model: Parents, Maria and Sam Williams, and grandmother Valmai Breen.
Hopes for the future: Career as warfare officer in the Royal New Zealand Navy.
Alexandra's top teenage whitewater kayaker Nick Collier thanks his coach and mentor Gordon Rayner and older brother, Max Collier, for his sporting success.
The Dunstan High School deputy head boy has competed nationally for several years and after making the U18 NZ team for canoe slalom this year is gunning for a place in the U18 NZ canoe polo team which will be announced after September trials.
"Gordy has got me to where I am in terms of kayaking and taken me on trips all over the country. He and his wife, Mary, run the Central Otago Whitewater Club and coach.
"But it would have started through my brother Max — he introduced the sport to me and has really paved the way in terms of showing me what’s possible within kayaking with hard work and commitment," Nick said.
Nick loves kayaking because it connects him with the outdoors.
"I just feel in the zone. Everything else is locked out. I only have to focus on what’s in front of me and the whitewater around me."
Nick is keen to succeed in business and commerce. This year he is studying physics, chemistry, calculus, economics, accounting and geography and eyeing courses at Auckland or Waikato universities.
Heading north is important for sporting ambitions too.
"I want to keep training. The pathway for canoe slalom is in Auckland, as they built a whitewater park there in 2016."
He intends to take a leaf out his mentor’s book and give back to a club. He is already volunteering with the Alexandra Canoe Polo Club, helping create teams and draws, teaching, refereeing and ensuring equipment and gear is in working order. He also helps coach youth canoe slalom skills and take participants on river trips.
Achievements: Deputy head boy (2021); Kayaking captain (2021); Sticks’n’Stones (2021); NCEA levels 1 (2019) and 2 (2020) endorsed with excellence; first in class accounting/economics (2019), second in class algebra (2020); Central Otago Sports Awards finalist Junior Male Sportsman of the Year (2021); canoe slalom: NZ U18 worlds team (2021); NZ development squad (2017-21); 3rd U18 Oceanias (2020); 7th overall Oceanias (2021); 1st U18 and 4th overall Nationals (2021); 1st overall South Island Championships (2021); 2nd U18 and 4th overall North Island Championships (2021); canoe freestyle: 2nd U18 Australian Open (2020); 1st U18 National Secondary Schools (2021); canoe polo: 2nd South Island Secondary Schools (2020); 7th National Secondary Schools (2020); xtreme slalom: 1st National Secondary Schools (2021); interhouse activities: dance-off house and haka competition; school Kayaker of the Year (2020); canoe polo bar (2020); canoe slalom bar (2020 and 2021); PTA student representative (2021); Youth representative kayaking committee (2021); Student Council (2019, 2021); Central Otago Youth Council (2018).
Role model: Central Otago Whitewater Club coach and mentor Gordon Rayner.
Hopes for the future: Winning a place in the under-18 and under-23 New Zealand canoe slalom teams, trialling for the 2023 Olympics and going on to compete at world level.