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Auckland student wins annual award, heading to Duke University

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Tāmaki Makaurau – Auckland student Hunter Haynes, 18, has won the annual Robertson scholars leadership programme and is off to Duke University in the US to study economics and international comparative studies.

At Westlake Boys High School, Hunter gained outstanding scholarships in 20 subjects over three years ranging from earth and space science to art history; agriculture and horticulture to classical studies.

His academic achievements are matched by success in other fields, including debating, where he led the Westlake Debating Society to wins in major competitions from 2020 to 2022, and was awarded best speaker several times.

Hunter has also written prize-winning short stories and poetry, and sings in the Westlake Boys’ premier choir, which won the best male choir in the regional big sing competitions in 2021 and 2022.

His teachers say his success in both the worlds of debating and his wider academic profile reflect Hunter’s humility, alongside a receptiveness to feedback and advice from those around him.

The Robertson programme was established by American philanthropist Julian Robertson and funds young leaders from around the world who strive to make transformational contributions to society.

The scholarship supports four years of undergraduate study at either Duke or the nearby University of North Carolina–Chapel Hill and recipients enjoy the facilities of both universities.

Hunter believes studying economics and ICS at Duke will allow him to benefit from the rigorous study a degree in economics can provide, while gaining from the breadth and experience of an ICS major.

As deputy head boy and academic captain at Westlake, Hunter held positions of responsibility and leadership within the school.

In the wider community, he was involved in leaderships roles in local government, such as the treasurer for the Devonport-Takapuna Youth Board, a youth-led initiative which aims to deliver civic engagement programs for youth.

He was selected as the youth advisor for the Auckland Council’s inquiry into the I Am Auckland initiative, working with policy advisors and youth engagement officers in the Auckland Council to assess the Auckland Council’s youth and child policy.

He has a passion for bringing the perspectives and voices of youth to bear in local and national government.

Hunter has led the inter-school UNICEF Club, a cross-school initiative between Westlake Boys and Westlake Girls and has been involved as a school leader in the Pupuke Kāhui Ako community of learning, a cross-school collaboration with 10 other schools.

Applications for the Robertson Scholars Leadership Program are administered in New Zealand by Universities New Zealand – Te Pōkai Tara.