Top Maori and Pacific Islander scholarship winner Eruera Bidois wants to become a surgeon to "give back" to his Maori people and make his whanau and iwi proud.
The Te Kura o Te Koutu student, who affiliates to Ngati Rangiwewehi, was awarded the University of Auckland Chancellor's Award for Top Maori and Pacific Island students after he was encouraged to apply at a university camp.
The scholarship, given to students studying a health science qualification specific to Maori and Pacific Islanders, covers all fees and tuition for three years, residency in the first year and assistance with travel and associated costs.
When Eruera attended the camp, he was persuaded to change his career path from his original intention of studying engineering to becoming a surgeon.
"I entered a week-long camp for Auckland University, they encouraged me to apply for the health school there. I'm going to sit a Certificate of Health Science especially for Maori and Pacific Islanders, I was really interested in that - before that I was thinking about becoming an engineer. I thought health would be a good way to give back to the Maori people, it's an honourable job and will make my whanau and iwi proud."
Eruera said he believed he got the scholarship because of his dedication to his kura and his work ethic. He was also nominated as the Te Koutu young achiever of 2012, something Eruera said would look good on his CV.
"Without sounding up myself, I consider myself quite a hard worker, especially in my dedication to my school. I started here when I was 7, I'm now the head boy and was the top student last year."
He also has a deep association with his marae Tarimano in Te Awahou.
"My culture is everything to me. I was brought up with my parents only speaking Maori to me. Growing up in a kura kaupapa with the reo and the tikanga it's always been a huge part of my life, it's just a part of me."
Te Kura o Te Koutu's Tania Smith said Eruera had consistently pushed himself to achieve at a high level.
"This is a great honour, but not so surprising for such a dedicated young man," she said.
"His achievements show us that our Maori rangitira across the country are pushing past the stereotypes."