AUCKLAND — One Catholic school was represented among a dozen at an awards ceremony at Government House in Auckland on September 1.
Thirty-one young people were at Government House to receive their Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award Gold Awards from the Governor-General, Sir Jerry Mateparae and his wife, Lady Janine.
Four of the 31 were from St Dominic’s College, Henderson — Andrea McDermott, Rhonwen Grace, Samantha Lee and Laura Brittney Cooper.
The award, for people aged from 14 to 25, has bronze, silver and gold levels. It has five sections: Service, Skills, Adventurous journey, Physical recreation and, for gold level only, Residential project. The award is recognised as tough and not easily achieved.

St Dominic's College old girls and Gold Award recipients at Government House: From left, Rhonwen Grace, Andrea McDermott, Samantha Lee and Laura Brittney Cooper with St Dominic's teacher and award coordinator Philippa Geary and principal Carol Coddington.

Sir Jerry told the young people that they and their families, friends and supporters could be proud of their achievement.
“Participating in the Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award is about more than learning valuable skills,” he said. “It is also about recognising the importance and benefits that flow from service to the community.”
Samantha said that completing the residential project with Youth to Everest was quite exciting. Also, she said, “Every tramp that I went on allowed me to also bond closer to my friends, making the award even more enjoyable”.
Laura said she learned many valuable life skills, such as First Aid, working with community groups and how to pack lightly. “I would like to thank Ms Geary, who has been the most inspirational teacher.”
Rhonwen said her highlights were tramping in many parts of New Zealand, the residential project in Nepal and learning bushcraft. “I met a lot of new people through service, physical recreation and tramping.”
Andrea said, “Going on the Spirit of Adventure was a great opportunity to meet so many people and make friends — one of the best experiences of my life so far”.
The presentation ended with a group photo session and morning tea.