Queen Charlotte College pupil Tarn Greenlaw is more than just a step ahead - he is a whole year ahead of his fellow art pupils.
Last year Tarn submitted a year 13 art and design folio - even though he was only in year 12. It was so good that it was singled out for a rare NZQA scholarship.
He received that award at a special assembly at the college yesterday.
Principal Tom Parsons said he was beyond proud of all his pupils' achievements in the NZQA assessments, but especially Tarn's.
"Tarn proved to himself that hard work and passion combined can result in great success," he said.
Tarn's art and design topic was a longboard helmet safety campaign for Adrenaline Longboards. He said his passion for longboarding really helped with the work: "I love longboarding. So it was easy for me to take on the challenge to help change the view that wearing a helmet is uncool."
He designed different posters and adverts using Photoshop and animation effects to make skateboarders appear really small and the helmets really big.
"I can't remember a specific day that my interest was sparked in art and design - I've just played with Photoshop as long as I can remember," he said.
His parents and his sister served as major influences - his parents are web designers and his sister owns her own longboarding company.
Having completed art and design at a year 13 level last year, he will study painting this year. "Painting will be a lot of hard work, but I hope fun as well," Tarn said.
He hoped that his art subjects would help him study to be an animator after finishing school this year.
"If I could do anything it would be working as an animator for Weta Workshop. The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit have proven what New Zealand can do - I would love to be a part of that."