Here two of our gold recipients reflect on the significance of the award to them:
I am grateful for the flexibility of the Duke of Edinburgh Award, specifically how it enabled me to engage in diverse activities despite the restrictions of the lockdown. For my Adventurous Journey, we embarked on a three-day circumnavigation of Auckland by kayak. Kayaking under the Harbour Bridge and past notable natural landmarks like beaches and reserves, helped me realise the accessibility of natural beauty around Auckland. The award has also enabled me to consolidate my interpersonal skills by tutoring younger students in English, maths and science. It has empowered me to persevere in activities including water polo, debate, and singing. I also utilised the unique travel experiences offered by the New Zealand Secondary Students’ Choir for my Gold Residential Project. In April 2021, we rehearsed for a week in Wellington in preparation for a performance during the National ANZAC Service, which was rewarding for us as performers due to the connections we made with the veterans and dignitaries present.
Completing my Duke of Edinburgh Gold Award was a fulfilling experience that allowed me to make new memories with a variety of people in a range of settings.
Helen Cai (Year 13, Taylor)
For my Gold Duke of Edinburgh, I tried to branch out and try some new things that pushed me out of my comfort zone. For my sports section, I took up running, aiming to improve my pace and distance every week, while for my skill I pursued creative writing, submitting my work to competitions and magazines, eventually being rewarded with publication in the likes of the Tarot and Mayhem Journals. For my service, I initially worked through the school’s community service programme, providing tuition and after-school care to kids in the local community. However, once we went into last year’s lockdown, I switched to volunteering on the Smithsonian’s website, transcribing documents from their archive into their database.
The real highlights for me, though, were my Residential and my Adventurous Journey. For the journey, I was lucky enough to go away for a week last summer on an unforgettable kayaking trip with my friends around the islands in the Waitematā. Equally exciting was my Residential, for which I volunteered for 5 days at the Kawau Island Historic Reserve. Here, I helped to maintain the Mansion House and the grounds of the park, as well as having the opportunity to meet some amazing new people.
Overall, doing my Gold Duke of Edinburgh has helped me to grow and improve as a person, and I will be forever grateful for the opportunities I have had and people I have met because of it.
Conor Doherty (Year 13, Marsden)