Bay rugby player lands prestigious award

Originally from Ruatoki, Stacey attended Whakatane High School where she was captain of the school’s rugby, touch and netball teams. Photo: Tracy Hardy.

An Eastern Bay of Plenty rugby player is one of two recipients of Waikato University's most prestigious awards - the Sir Edmund Hillary Medal.

Sporting all-rounder Stacey Waaka and top cellist Matthias Balzat have each been given an award.

The award is bestowed every year to two top graduating students on the Sir Edmund Hillary Scholarship programme - one for sport and one for creative and performing arts.

Winning a medal is a significant achievement, as awardees have to reach the highest level academically and in their chosen sport or performing art, while also demonstrating exceptional leadership.

Originally from Ruatoki, Stacey attended Whakatane High School where she was captain of the school's rugby, touch and netball teams.

She has competed at high levels in touch rugby, rugby, sevens, netball and hockey.

As a rugby player, Stacey thrives on competition and utilises her training sessions to build on her speed and power on the field.

Alongside this Matthias Balzat has been playing the cello since he was three years old.

Now 17, he has won a range of prestigious contests, including the American Protege Competition, the National Concerto Competition, and Performing Arts Competition Association of New Zealand.


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