"My name is Teina Watling and I live in Palmerston North. I am the recipient of the Cooper-Connell Scholarship for the class of 2016, named after two very prestigious Old Boys - form Headmaster Sir Henry Cooper '22 and Barrie Frederick Connell '44, a former Dux, Head Prefect and 1st XV captain. It is awarded to those who have the potential to achieve excellence in academic endeavours and participate enthusiastically in sporting and cultural activities.
"I came from a Kura Kaupapa Maori (full Maori immersion school) in Palmerston North and I grew up in Te Ao Maori. Coming to Auckland Grammar was never expected until I was in Year 8. The school's principal received a letter to select a student for a scholarship to Auckland Grammar, a school that I knew very little about. We sent in an application and I got shortlisted. We drove to Auckland and had an interview and 2 days later I got a call that I had been awarded the scholarship.
"The Cooper-Connell Scholarship has allowed me to live at Tibbs House and attend Auckland Grammar since I was in Form 3 in 2016, up until 2020. Gaining this scholarship has been one of the greatest opportunities I have ever received, allowing me to strive further than I thought possible. I have made life long friends and the experiences I have gained will remain with me for many years to come. Compulsory prep each night was a real challenge at first but, I have since developed a work ethic that I am proud of.
"Going to a Kura Kaupapa Maori for my first 12 years of schooling meant coming to Grammar was a big change, but it has opened my eyes to different cultures and ways of learning. Going from a school of eight Year 8 students to 500 Form 3 students means that I have been challenged academically, socially and in sports, and I believe I have grown as a result. Had I not received the Cooper-Connell Scholarship, I may have taken a more relaxed approach to my secondary schooling, but the opportunity to come to Grammar has really pushed me and motivated me to do well in my schooling. I feel appreciative of the opportunity that has been given to me through the scholarship.
"I have applied myself in many different spheres of Grammar, including Basketball and the Kapa Haka group. Many opportunities are provided by Grammar to help students excel. One such opportunity was to participate in the Form 6 Leadership Camp at Venturelodge in Ohakune, which helped me develop my leadership skills which I believe will benefit me as a senior at Tibbs House. I have learnt a lot from living at the hostel. The constant social atmosphere has helped me enhance my social skills, and the wide range of personalities allows myself and many of my hostel friends to interact with other students.
"When I arrived at Grammar, I thought that one of the biggest sacrifices may have been my culture and Te Reo Maori, but I have learned more about my iwi and whakapapa through other hostel students (such as Form 6 student Taitimu Murray at the InZone hostel). We talk about our cultural heritage in Maori class as it is something many hostel boys have in common.
"It was expected by myself that one of my main commitments for receiving the scholarship is to the Kapa Haka ropu (group). It is great to see the improvement that this team has made, and I am so proud that I have been able to stick with Kapa Haka at this school as it is something that I am very passionate about. I have had different roles performing and that is one of the reasons that I am so grateful to have received this scholarship.
"Having the opportunity to come to Auckland Grammar through the Cooper-Connell Scholarship has opened up so many opportunities for me and I can only imagine how many ways the scholarship has changed my life. From the great education to the great people and teachers I have met along the way, I can only be forever grateful."