Meet this year's batch of Gold Heart Scholars

Variety is proud to announce its 2020 Gold Heart Scholars.

Every year, Variety awards Gold Heart Scholarships to deserving young people who excel in arts, music, sports or academics and are disadvantaged financially or living with an illness or disability. Funding is up to $5,000 and can be used for tuition fees, personal development, coaching, training and sports equipment, or travel and accommodation.

The scholarship is now on its 14th year, and Variety has teamed up with CMC Markets to help 20 exceptionally talented young people move closer to achieving their life goals.

Congratulations to our new scholars! 


Andre’s goal is to become a decathlete and compete in the Olympics. He has had a lot of success at the North Island Colgate Games, Auckland Heptathlon, and the Secondary School Bay of Plenty Champs where he set a record for discus. Andre’s Gold Heart Scholarship will allow him to cover costs associated with his Athletics including coaching, equipment, and competition fees.

Andre Gundersen


Azayliaz is a talented basketball player and has won a number of awards including best defence and most valuable player. He was also selected for the Under 11s boys Northland Basketball team. Funding will allow Azayliaz to attend the Cameron’s Boys Under 12 Basketball academy tour in Melbourne, Australia.

Azayliaz Wiki-Henare


Blessing’s long-term goal is to represent New Zealand in Shot Put and Discus at the Commonwealth and Olympic Games. He has won a number of silver and bronze medals at both regional and national Athletics competitions in his three years of competing. Blessing’s Gold Heart Scholarship will be used for equipment and registration so he is able to compete and continue to give back to his Athletics community.

Blessing Sefo


A previous Gold Heart Scholar, Cruz is a talented, hardworking, and dedicated swimmer training up to 8 times a week. At the 2019 South Island champs, Cruz earned one first and one third placing. In February 2020, Cruz gained three first, two second, and three third placings at the Alexandra club meet. This year’s funding will help with training fees, travel and accommodation costs, competition entry and training camps, getting Cruz closer to his goal of representing New Zealand in swimming.

Cruz Morland


Danielle is fast-rising star in Cheerleading. She has been selected to represent New Zealand for Cheerleading in USA in early 2021. She also won gold at Cheerfest and NZ Nationals, and silver at Cheerfactor. The scholarship will fund her training, uniform, competition entry fees, and travel costs.

Danielle Gilfedder


Dante is a humble, committed and dedicated young athlete who has a strong passion for Softball. He is a natural leader and constantly works hard on developing his skills. Dante has received numerous awards including, Sports Person of the Year, Most Valuable Softball Player and Most Committed and Fairest Sports Player. He was selected for the Under 13 ISA New Zealand team for Softball to travel to Canada and USA. Dante’s scholarship will be used for travel and accommodation costs for the New South Wales Softball Bay of Plenty Junior International Challenge Tournament in Australia.

Dante Roper


David continues to excel in Rugby League on his third year as a Gold Heart Scholar. He travelled to Australia last year for a rugby league tour of Brisbane and the Gold Coast gaining valuable experience. He also represented Tonga in the Under 18 Hakula Rugby League team. This year, David’s scholarship will cover training gear, uniform, and equipment costs and club and school rugby fees.

David Pulotu


Eruera is a passionate and enthusiastic team player, constantly training hard at Softball to improve his game. Eruera represented Horowhenua at the Under 15’s National Softball Tournament. His will use his funding for travel and accommodation costs at competitions.

Eruera Matehaere


Hannah is a previous Gold Heart Scholar, and currently working on her goal of going to the USA on a tennis or academic scholarship. Her determination and talent as a sportswoman enabled her to be the champion at the Under 16 Western Bay of Plenty Residential tournament. Hannah was also selected to represent Waikato-Bays as a member of the Under 16 team at the Junior National Teams event. Aside from training hard and volunteer-coaching young tennis players, Hannah also excels academically. Her scholarship will go towards squad training, individual coaching, and competition costs.

Hannah Walpole


Keanu is a Gold Heart Scholarship for the second year for his achievements in Softball. In 2019, he was awarded Sportsman of the Year, Top Batter and Most Valuable Player in various competitions. Keanu is a committed and dedicated athlete and is always eager to improve and develop his skills. He will use the scholarship to fund his trip to Australia to compete at the Under 14 International Softball Academy.

Keanu Jennings


This is Laci’s third year as a Gold Heart Scholar for her excellent achievements in tag rugby, netball, and rugby league. Her team placed second overall in the Under 21 Senior National Tag rugby competition. Laci also played for the Cook Islands Under 21 Women’s team at the Senior Oceania Rugby Tag Nationals. Her Gold Heart Scholarship will be used for equipment, training gear, competition fees and travel costs for tournaments.

Laci Iro


Nigel is a Gold Heart Scholarship for the second time for his commitment and dedication to his rugby league and TAG footy. His team placed second at the Senior Tag Nationals in the Under 21s mixed grade in February 2020. Nigel was the rugby league captain of the counties Māori under 17s which won the final at the Māori Nationals. This year’s scholarship will be used for equipment, training gear, competition fees, travel and accommodation costs for the World Champs in November 2020 held in the Gold Coast, Australia.

Nigel Iro


Percy is a Gold Heart Scholarship for the third year for his hard work and determination in Athletics. Percy is a former two-time Youth World Discus Record Holder for the 11 & 12-year-old age groups. He currently holds Discus and Shot-Put records for his age group for Counties Manukau and Auckland. Inspite of a rigorous training schedule, Percy still manages to volunteer his time at the club. His scholarship will be used for training gear, equipment, club fees, chiropractor and Auckland and International competitions.

Percy Maka


Rina is a gifted athlete who consistently shows determination, passion, and a positive attitude towards her chosen sport: Shot Put and Discus. At school, Rina was the only intermediate student to have broken both the Year 7 and 8 records in Shot Put. Rina is a great role model and teaches the younger members of her club the basics of athletics events. Her Gold Heart Scholarship will be used for training gear, equipment, club fees, chiropractor and throwing shoes.

Rina Maka


Samuel is a gifted dancer extremely committed to his training. Through his dance school, Red Studio, Samuel travelled to Brisbane in 2019 for a competition, qualified for Nationals in 2020 and won the cup for Most Improved Dancer in Hip Hop. His Gold Heart Scholarship will be used for dance lessons, and travel and accommodation costs for competitions.

Samuel Forbes Brown


A previous Gold Heart Scholar, Troy is a natural in Shot Put and Discus. Troy is currently the Youth World Record Discus holder for 11-year-olds. He also is the Athletics Auckland Record Holder in Discus for ages 10 and 11. No wonder he won the Arahoe Primary School Sportsman award for 2018. His scholarship will be used to cover the cost of training gear, equipment, and club fees.

Troy Maka


Earning the Gold Heart Scholarship for the second year, Tusipepa is a dedicated student who works hard towards her dream of becoming a doctor. She also has a strong interest in Music and is the Principal’s chosen piano player for the school. Tusipepa received excellence in all of her subjects and overall for NCEA Level 1. This year’s Gold Heart Scholarship will fund Tusipepa’s extra academic tutoring.

Tusipepa Tautailevao


Venessa is a talented and dedicated singer, now on her second year as a Gold Heart Scholar. In 2019, she gained first overall at the Te Awamutu and second overall in Hamilton at the local singing competitions. She also received two second placings at the National Aria competition at the end of 2019. Venessa has shown great progress and improvement in her vocal skills through her private singing lessons,. Venessa will use her Gold Heart Scholarship to fund further singing lessons, performing equipment and competition fees.

Venessa Joyce


This is Verity’s third year as a Gold Heart Scholar for her continued success in the Performing Arts. In 2019, Verity travelled to the USA for the World Championships of Performing Arts in Hollywood and won 12 medals in singing, acting, and modelling. This year’s Gold Heart Scholarship will be used to fund her personal mentoring in Las Vegas by international vocal coach Romeo Johnson, who said he has ‘found a very special and awesome talent in Verity’.

Verity Howells


Xavier is a gifted Tag Footy player, committed to perfecting his skills. Xavier has been accepted to the New Zealand Kiwis Auckland Tag20 Under 16s boys team. He also contributes to his community through volunteer work and was awarded an across year level cup in 2019 for his community efforts. Xavier will use his Gold Heart Scholarship to fund his trip to the Tag Footy World Championship in Brisbane, Australia.

Xavier Mika