After two years since it was established, Hākinakina Champions Academy in Whangarei held its inaugural awards recently celebrating the achievements of youth in sport.
And it was grand entrance onto the red carpet with the girls arriving on limousines while the boys arrived as passengers of a group of local Harley Davidson motorcycle riders.
Founder Marcelle Kaipo says, "They want to go further. They want to represent New Zealand. We've got nine participants who've represented their country. Three of our tamariki have attained scholarships so they've set a path for all of our kids and they all know that everything is attainable now. You work for it, you'll get it."
One of the founding students, Jade Stewart told the gathering, "Having talent will only get you so far. Hard work and commitment is going to get you the rest of the way."
Jade is currently attending Saint Kentigern College in Auckland after receiving a rugby scholarship, while another founding student Tama Anderson received a multiple of offers from top schools of which he chose to attend Mount Albert Grammar.
They've both been appointed the academy's first patrons.
Jade told the audience, "I would like to thank Marcelle and Hākinakina (Academy) for helping me to achieve my goals by helping me to see what I can achieve with a little hard work."
The success of the academy is being put down to having created an environment where athletes can develop not only their natural talent and physical attributes but also the mental toughness to reach the ultimate performance.
Kaipo says, "They all know it's really tough but they support each other through that and every single one of them is aiming high. We've got eight year olds talking about we want to go to university. No one's stopping them. What we're doing is showing them the path."
While the Academy trains twice a week in the early hours of the morning, it's only the results on the sports field that are seen and acknowledged with the awards providing a real opportunity for the children and their families celebrate their achievements.
The academy is currently training 37 kids who are all representing Northland in at least two sporting codes.
However, what's also incredible is that their results have all been achieved by volunteers with very little financial support.
Kaipo says, "Oh we'd love to get funding for a trained instructor. A lot of the training we're doing is off Youtube and we're producing results. We'd love more funding but I think the thing is we triple that in heart."
The initiative is seen as a pathway for creating future leaders.