What does it take to be invited to dinner with the 44th President of the United States of America?

I spoke with successful recipient Dajah McIver a student of Waitakere College – who was personally invited to be a guest at an exclusive dinner for the former US President Obama’s, speech and facilitated question and answer session.

Held at the Viaduct Events Centre in the Waiheke room on Thursday night 22nd March 2018, hosted by actor Sam Neil, a banquet dinner cooked by Internationally renowned chef – Peter Gordon – who especially flew in from London to oversee the meals for 1000 guests.

Labour deputy leader Kelvin Davis visited Waitakere College to request their top student to attend this special event.  Minister Davis asked Principal Mark Shanahan ‘who is your top student of Maori heritage, who will represent your school well?’ To her great surprise, Dajah was handpicked above 1300 students, by the school’s Principal and Head Teachers, to be the representative at this special event.

CPHB member Waitakere College was the 2017 winner and recipient of the Prime Minister award for excellence in teaching and learning.  Dajah McIver has attended the College since year 9, among her many schooling achievements is being a prefect.

Dajah explained how she chose Waitakere College, “The schools where I live, favour and promote sports whereas Waitakere College has a performing arts academy for year 9 and 10 students. Here we could try an array of art disciplines such as painting, sculpture, music, dancing, singing, and acting. This included technical experience such as stage lighting, sound engineering and more, from all areas on stage, back of stage, production, promoting a whole learning experience” It’s a beacon for others who are invested in performing arts to cultivate and come together.

Dajah travels from Kelston to Henderson to attend school.  Her work ethic and excellence in performing art and academics and has seen her develop into a  and accomplished student. Dajah views Waitakere College as a platform that has allowed her to pursue her talents and cultivate her natural abilities.

Being in creative arts, she found her groove at Waitakere College along with excellence in Maths, Dajah has been recognised as a student who excels in all areas due to the support network of likeminded students who are equally focused on performing arts, which is refreshing.

Dajah is currently finalising her year 13 (7th form) and feels that being committed to school is worthy, for her it is a regular routine of putting 100% into everything she does. Being dedicated and consistent, embracing all aspects of what must be done (including the non-glamourous jobs) is the enduring feature that has won Dajah respect and accolades.

Dajah embodies the House values of ‘Aroha’ and school values of Waitakere College ‘being the best you can be’ along with caring, respect and learning.

Dajah McIver is of Celtic heritage from Scotland fjords of ‘The Firth of Forth’ and Māori descent; Ngāti Kahungunu and Ngāpuhi.

Everyone was so proud of her, especially her parents.

Michelle Coughlan

Foci Solutions