Although Summer Rose Johnson found out the hard way that high school was not for her, she's happily learning that her education still counts.
For the 17-year-old, bullying at school led to a bout of depression and saw her drop out of high school two years ago.
"My parents tried their best to get me to go back but I just wasn't interested," she says.
"I felt like I was wasting my time there because I already knew what I wanted to do."
Since she was young, Summer had a passion for dancing, acting and singing and is now pursuing these disciplines through the NCEA Level 2 Creative Industries programme in Performing Arts, delivered through the Māngere Campus.
"My aunty thought this would be a good place to come because she'd heard that the wānanga had a really good performing arts programme. At the start I wasn't looking forward to coming because I thought it was going to be similar to school but it turned out to be way better than I expected."
The youth programme, which began in May, is specifically designed for 15-17 year olds to provide a basic grounding in the job skills relevant to developing a career in the performing arts industry, multimedia, tourism as well as retail hospitality.
Summer says that from day one she could see the effort the teachers were making to ensure they all understood what they were doing.
"I think it's awesome that I get to learn all these different things in one class, while I'm also doing what I want to do. It's been absolutely amazing, here the teachers are really kind and I can understand and I know what I'm doing because I’m not afraid to ask. I've loved it, it's been so different from school."
Summer also says the programme has already helped her set achievable goals.
"This course gives you a lot of resources and more, so if you don't want to go school, this would be a really good place to come. You get to have fun and connect with people but you also get to learn at the same time. That's what I really like about it," the budding artist says.
"If I hadn't dropped out of school this would probably have never happened and I'm so glad it did. I want to follow through to the next level and eventually get my bachelor's degree here. I'm not planning to leave for another six or seven years. This is an awesome place to be."