Scholarship Recipients' Friendly Rivalry

Callum Hill and John Ma have been to the same primary, intermediate and high school and have now both won the same scholarship, for the same university where they will be studying the same degree.

The Whangarei Boys' High School students, who have been friends since they started Hurupaki Primary School, are two of 16 students from the school who have been awarded scholarships together worth about $300,000.

Principal Karen Gilbert-Smith said staff from the school couldn't remember ever having this number of scholarships at the school in one year.

"It shifts the focus for us onto the fact we can compete at that level ... and that our boys are very capable of getting these top scholarships," she said.

Callum and John both attended Kamo Intermediate School and are both deputy head boys at Whangarei Boys' High School. They have also each been awarded a $45,000 academic excellence scholarship for Otago University where they will be studying a Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery.

"The last few years I've been trying to stick around him so I have someone to copy off when I need to study," joked Callum.

"And vice verse," said John.

When the pair found out they had also won the same scholarship it was a "big surprise".

"I never even comprehended they would give two scholarships to the same school. So I was talking to John and said 'Oh John, please tell me you got a scholarship' and he was like 'mate, sorry I think I'm going to Otago' and I said 'mate, me too,'" said Callum.

The reasons behind their decision to study medicine are also similar, the want to help people.

"It's one of the most rewarding careers. I just want to see the smile on people's faces," said John.

While John and Callum are both excited to move out of home, they said it was great knowing they will be together.

"It's not the total unknown we go into but it makes it a little bit easier," said Callum.

Meanwhile, student Chris Pidgeon has been awarded an Auckland University of Technology Vice Chancellor's Significant Student Scholarship to study a Bachelor of Computer and Information Sciences.

Chris has used his IT skills to help the charity Dress for Success Northland.

"We re-did their database, they had everything in forms so we got that automated and electronic which we've been told was really helpful."

He said when he found out he had been awarded the scholarship he was in disbelief. But his mother's reaction was pretty funny, he said.

"She found out first and got to call and tell me. She's gone through a lot of medical hardships so when she called up and was in absolute hysterics, we thought the worst, and then I made out the word scholarship and knew what she was talking about."