One of four graduates of a Whangarei academy offering military-style residential school programme for boys says he was just cruising through school before he joined.
Leadership Academy of A Company was set up in 2010 in response to the revelation that 86% of Maori boys in Whangarei left high school with no NCEA qualifications.
Based on the 28th Maori Battalion's A Company, the academy builds on that reputation bravery and leadership .
The boys live on site from Sunday - Friday and are taught to be proud of their heritage.
One of those graduating is Mana Ashby, 17, who says he was not performing well at his old school.
He now hopes to enrol in a health sciences degree at Otago University.