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George Bates is one of New Zealand's top scholars.
A year earlier than most, the 18-year-old King’s High School head prefect gained NCEA level 3 with excellence endorsements and university entrance.
He was recently named an NZQA Premier Scholar, one of 12 in the country, after receiving scholarships in English and physics and outstanding scholarships in calculus, chemistry and statistics.
He is closing in on 200 NCEA level 2 and 3 excellence credits.
And the secret to his success?
His faith in God, and strong role models.
"Having a supportive family and school has been a massive part of my achievements," he said.
"Over the last couple of years I've been finding my identity more in my faith."
Leading a Christian group at school was "really important to me".
"This year, being head prefect has been an awesome opportunity to exercise the personal growth I’ve found over the past couple of years."
Other highlights for George include his invitation to join the top 15 pupils to compete at the national mathematics final in Wellington last year, and his attendance at the prizegiving for the Australian Mathematics Competition, in which he placed in the top 1% in New Zealand.
He is also learning te reo Maori and beyond the classroom, George is a keen footballer.
He was a member of the First XI that made the top four of the New Zealand Secondary Schools Football First XI tournament in 2019.
Next year, he hoped to study at Otago or overseas, but was not yet sure what course to take or where he would end up.
"One night I lay awake thinking how I could fit maths, chemistry, Spanish, theology and a couple of other things into a degree.
"I might be a doctor, church leader, translator or politician, I’m not sure yet, but whatever I do, I’ll do it with God beside me."
Achievements: NZQA scholarships in English and physics (2019); NZQA outstanding scholarships in calculus, chemistry and statistics (2019); NZ Premier Scholar Award (2019); head prefect (2020); NZ scholarship in calculus (2017); NCEA levels 1, 2 and 3 endorsed with excellence (2018-19); NZ scholarship in statistics (2018); 6th in the junior national 1500m run (2017); junior 4x400m relay team gold (2017); Southern United youth football team (2018); King’s football 1st XI team, top four in NZ (2019).
Role model: Jesus Christ and my dad.
Hopes for the future: Would love to continue study at Otago or overseas, and to be faithful to God always.
James Nicolson has made a decision he hopes will take him all the way to the Olympics.
The 17-year-old King’s High School pupil was at a crossroads in his life and had to decide whether he wanted to pursue hockey or rugby, hoping to make it professionally in one or the other.
He chose hockey, and now has his sights set firmly on the podium.
"I miss it [rugby] a bit but I’m glad I chose hockey."
He started playing hockey in primary school, filling in for his sister at games, then coming into his own in the sport.
"I’ve been playing pretty much non-stop ever since.
"I spent my whole holidays at the turf — there were only one or two days I wasn’t down there playing or training."
Hockey is a special sport to play, he says.
"You can really watch yourself get better and grow as a player — there are fine distinctions between levels of skill."
James was selected for the High Performance Sport New Zealand Pathway to Podium programme, which looks at developing athletes fit for Olympic contention in the next one to two cycles.
"I was really proud of myself for that one."
He thinks going to the 2028 Olympics for hockey is a realistic goal.
"I’d love to be a Black Stick, put on the fern and represent the country — that’d be awesome."
But it’s not all sport for James.
In 2019 he completed NCEA level 2 with 110 excellence credits.
"I’m into study as well. I like trying my best in school and I really love classics."
This year he is taking history, English, media studies and classics.
James hopes to juggle studying law and classics at university alongside Olympic preparation.
Achievements: NCEA level 2 excellence endorsement (2019); NCEA excellence endorsements in business studies, classical studies, geography and English; senior boys 100m running final winner (2020); King’s hockey 1st XI (2015-20); King’s hockey 1st XI winner of the Rankin Cup (2019); Southern U18 hockey team (2019-20); hockey coach (2020); NZ U18 men’s hockey squad (2019-20); High Performance Sport New Zealand Pathway to Podium programme (2019-20); NCEA level 2 excellence endorsement (2019).
Role model: My coach Dave Ross, alongside Blair Tarrant and Hugo Inglis, Black Sticks players from the South.
Hopes for the future: Be a Black Stick, put on the fern and represent the country.