Class Act: Otago Girls' High School

Jennifer Marsh
Jennifer Marsh
Jennifer Marsh

School, training, home, study, eat, sleep and repeat.

Otago Girls’ High School head girl Jennifer Marsh says her routine keeps her on track and reaching goals.

"I can achieve better when I have my routine set."

The 17-year-old has a busy schedule between her four passions: netball, volleyball, kapa haka and choir alongside school.

Jennifer says she has always been musical, and found outlets for this in choir and kapa haka.

"We grew up singing, so it’s something I’ve always loved."

She has been the leader of kapa haka since 2018, attending the national competition the same year. She loves the Maori language and culture, she says.

"I started Maori in year 9 and have stuck with it ever since.

"I’m not Maori, but I love the whanau aspect in the Maori classroom and in kapa haka."

This year, she entered and won the Otago Race Unity Speech Competition, held during lockdown, and went on to place in the national finals of the event.

"I really loved the topic I was speaking about and that’s why I think I did so well ... I spoke about Maori and te reo."

Jennifer is a member of the senior B netball and senior A volleyball teams.

She has been an Otago volleyball representative in the under-17 A and under-19 teams.

Being voted head prefect this year was her biggest achievement to date.

"It’s been incredible."

Academically, she has achieved NCEA level 1 and 2 with excellence.

Jennifer plans to complete a bachelor of arts and science degree at the University of Otago.

"I want to carry on with Maori, kapa haka and sport as well."

She thinks she might become a teacher.

"I love working with people and I think that’s why I’m looking at teaching."

Achievements: Head prefect (2020); academic blue (2018-19); Cruickshank House leader year 12 (2019); NCEA level 1 and 2 with excellence; scholar blue (2019-20); OGHS Board of Trustees Scholarship to further opportunities in cultural activities (2018-19); Te Mana Wahine prize for excellence in senior te reo Maori (2019); Winner of the Otago Regional Race Unity Speech Competition (2020); finalist in Race Unity Speech Competition, won Tohu Manukura i te Reo Maori Language Commission Award for te Reo Maori and Tohu Eke Panuku Human Rights Commission Award for Impact (2020); kapa haka leader (2018-20); Nga Manu Korero blue (2019); Wairua Puhou blue (2018-19); choir blue (2018, 2019); volleyball senior A team (2019-20); netball senior A team (2017-18); netball senior B team (2019-20); volleyball blue (2019); arts council member (2020).
Role model: My principal and my dad.
Hopes for the future: Go to the University of Otago and do a bachelor of arts and science.

Hannah Matehaere
Hannah Matehaere
Hannah Matehaere

It's nothing but net for this rising basketball star.

Otago Girls’ High School deputy head prefect Hannah Matehaere has represented New Zealand on the global stage already in the sport, and hopes to one day make it into the Tall Ferns.

Hannah started playing at the age of 6, and made her first representative team at the age of 9.

"I love the fast pace; possession time is max 24 seconds so even if you make a mistake there’s always something else you can do."

A member of the Junior Tall Ferns squad, she first made it into the national U16 team in 2017, going to the Australian State Championships.

Last year, she was in the NZ U17 basketball team which went to the International Basketball Federation championships in New Caledonia, where the team came second.

"That was an amazing experience."

Less than a month after the championships, Hannah experienced a major setback, tearing her ACL.

"I tore it the day before my 17th birthday — not the birthday present I wanted.

"It’s been really difficult. I think Covid has sort of helped because I had all that time to focus on rehab. It would’ve been hard seeing the team and not being able to play".

Hannah is hoping to rebound, after being told she can start playing again in September, a year on.

"I would love to represent the country [in basketball] one day."

Next year, she was planning to travel to the United States on a basketball scholarship, but it depended on what border restrictions were in place.

She was not short of backup plans.

A strong grounding in maths and science, alongside numerous academic excellence prizes, meant she was thinking of doing health sciences next year.

"I really like physics and chemistry ... I might try to get into medicine."

Achievements: Deputy head prefect (2020); NCEA level 1 and 2 with excellence (2018-19); scholar blues (2019-20); academic excellence prize in year 12 (2019); Mana Pounamu Young Achievers Teina Award (2016); Sidey Medal (2017-19) NZ Sidey Blue (2018-19); Nga Manu Korero Blues (2016-17); Marchant Medal (2016); member of the New Zealand U16 basketball team (2017); member of the NZ U17 basketball team (2019); reserve for the New Zealand Junior Tall Ferns basketball team (2020); Otago Goldrush women’s basketball team (2018-19); U19 Otago women’s basketball team (2019) MVP U17 and U23 Otago women’s basketball teams (2018); MVP selected into Otago Academy of Sport (2019); basketball blues (2017-19); senior A basketball team (2016-20).
Role model: My older and younger sisters for keeping me in check.
Hopes for the future: Get through this year and succeed in my exams.

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