Class Act: Kaikorai Valley College

Mallak Momani

Mallak Momani is proud to provide the representation she wanted as a child.

The 17-year-old works hard to make sure everyone’s opinion is heard, whether it be in school or around the city.

Out of all of her responsibilities, her role as head girl keeps her the busiest.

She had to learn time management and it can be a bit difficult to keep track of everything, but she appreciates how it has helped her grow as a person.

"I really enjoy the role."

Although it keeps her busy, she is proud to be a Muslim girl in a position of responsibility within the school.

Growing up she rarely saw people like her voicing their opinions and is glad she can make sure others like her have their opinions heard.

Part of what equipped her for the position was taking part in a global competence certificate this year, which saw her work online with international pupils and learn different styles of communication.

As head girl she often has to act as a mediator and learning those different styles helped her connect with others and give them space to express themselves.

She also works to ensure minority voices are heard throughout the city.

As a member of the Dunedin Youth Council she listens to young people and represents them.

When she is not focused on the needs of her fellow pupils she is studying science or helping out on the school urban farm, a small patch with a little stream where they have gardens and animals.

She did not expect much when she signed up for the group, but found she really enjoys and is proud of her work.

As an environment leader at the school she works to ensure positive steps are being made to conservation.

Working with nature reminds her of her home city of Jordan in the Middle East.

The city is known for its luscious orchards and she felt proud to be working towards a similar environment here.

Achievements: Head girl (2022); environmental leader (2022); environmental committee leader (2022); peer support (2022); student council (2022); Dunedin Joint Council representative, secretary and social media manager (2022); Braithwaite Centre production (2021-2022); board of trustees student rep (2020-2021); Rathbone communication award (2021); Dunedin Youth Council (2021-2022); health committee member (2021-2022); Rockquest Central Otago finals (2018); debating (2018-2021); Level 1, 2 excellence (2020-2021)

Role model: Her parents, for shaping who she was and upholding their own culture through immigration.

Hopes for the future: To study Health Science at the University of Otago

Zaria Muirhead

A long-running rivalry, a passion for her studies and a love of community has driven Zaria Muirhead far in life.

The 17-year-old deputy head girl is an active member of her school kapa haka group, the school choir, the council and excels in her studies.

She enjoys the community feel of kapa haka group, even though getting up on stage could be nerve-wracking.

Despite her anxieties, she really enjoys performing and likes getting immersed in her team’s production.

It was a very social group which learned routines in unique ways, which she really enjoyed.

One method they used for learning songs and chants was to sit in a dark room and listen to an instructor then repeat the words back to them.

It is a style of learning she had not found elsewhere.

As a New Zealand European she feels lucky to have grown up and share in Maori culture.

She also enjoys singing in the school choir, which was a different style of community.

She finds choir to be more about spending time with friends than learning the discipline of Kapa Haka.

Together they are two sides of the same coin which stem from her love of music.

That passion had led her into roles of responsibility.

As well as deputy head girl, Zaria acted as a school cultural leader and was responsible for helping out with school events, like the planning of school Talent Quest.

She is also co-captain of her netball team, which allows her to get to know girls in different year levels and travel around the region with them.

Part of what drove her was a loving rivalry with her older sister, Kayla.

Being three years younger, Zaria always wanted to try and one-up her sister.

She is very academically driven and enjoys trying to improve her grades.

She is still uncertain about her future, but wants to go to the University of Otago and hopes to keep shooting for high grades there.

Achievements: Deputy head girl (2022); cultural leader (2022); board of trustees student rep (2022); Kapa Haka blue (2021); top year 12 maths (2021); academic achievement award (2016, 2017, 2019, 2020); science and biology award (2021); year 12 academic excellence award (2021); Senior A netball co-captain (2022); Polyfest (2017, 2019, 2021), Grade 5 music theory exam distinction (2021).

Role model: Her older sister Kayla.

Hopes for the future: To continue her studies at the University of Otago.