Top cellist Matthias Balzat and sporting all-rounder Stacey Waaka have each been given one of Waikato University’s most prestigious awards – the Sir Edmund Hillary Medal.
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.
Matthias Balzat has been playing the cello since he was three years old. Now 18 he has won a range of prestigious contests, including the American Protege Competition, the National Concerto Competition, and PACANZ (Performing Arts Competition Association of New Zealand).
Stacey Waaka has competed at high levels in touch rugby, rugby, sevens, netball and hockey. Originally from Ruatoki, Stacey attended Whakatane High School where she was captain of the school’s rugby, touch and netball teams. As a rugby player, Stacey thrives on competition and utilises her training sessions to build on her speed and power on the field. She was also the Black Fern’s youngest player in the team that beat England in the final of the Women’s Rugby World Cup last year.