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Department of Conservation Southern South Island director Aaron Fleming gave the Sir Peter Blake Trust's Young Leader Award to pupil Zara Mackley (12) during a special assembly at Remarkables Primary School yesterday.
Zara, of Frankton, was nominated for the coveted award for ''overcoming her shy nature'' to become a leader who gained the respect of others at the school.
''It feels amazing to get the award,'' Zara said after receiving the award.
''I think I received it because I have got a lot better at public speaking and making myself be heard to inspire people.''
The Young Leader Award is given to pupils who have their own style of leadership, work well with others and always go the extra mile to help their peers, while maintaining a good attitude.
It is awarded to one Year 5-8 pupil at every primary and intermediate school in the country each year.
Remarkables pupil Josh Watson (12), of Frankton, was recognised as runner-up for the award.
Mr Fleming also gave an inspirational speech to senior pupils at the school about his journey to become an athlete after his right lung collapsed four times at the age of 16.
He has had a varied and successful career, being recognised as an exceptional leader time and time again.
With more than a decade's worth of experience working in local and central government, he won a Sir Peter Blake Leadership Award last year and was New Zealand's Olympic Games torchbearer in 2008.
Mr Fleming said it was a ''brilliant opportunity'' to recognise the leadership skills of young people at the school.
''It really does come down to every young person being a leader and setting that goal for themselves to achieve great things.
''The award is very special as a young New Zealander to be able to have that recognition.''
The award is inspired by the late Kiwi legend Sir Peter Blake, KBE, who was known as one of the world's most celebrated yachtsmen.
Sir Peter had a career spanning three decades and won and defended the America's Cup title.
After years of winning bluewater races around the world, he made a huge impact as an environmental campaigner.