I’m starting to think this girl is quite smart

February 2nd, 2010 at 9:39 pm by David Farrar

NZPA report:

A Wellington student who twice topped the world in an international English exam couldn’t have a more fitting name — she’s

The 18-year-old Samuel Marsden Collegiate graduate this year came top in the Cambridge International A-level English exams, a feat mirroring last year’s result, when she topped the AS-level exams in the same subject.

Although she is “stoked” with her 99 percent grade, she did not expect to get the top honour a second time.

She’s probably upset about the missing 1%!

“I thought I’d done quite badly, I felt pretty bad about the exam,” she told Campbell Live.

99% is bad for Maria I’d say!

She plans to study law at the University of Otago this year.

More than 90,000 students from more than 100 countries take part in the Cambridge exams every year.

Yeah I’m definitely starting to think she may be quite smart. I credit her mother’s genes :-)

From all accounts Maria is one of those students that everyone should hate for giving them an inferiority complex. A quick Google refreshes my memory that her recent achievements are:

But even worse Maria is not hated by all her peers for making them feel like stupid mortals, but from all accounts is incredibly popular and pretty much universally liked.

I see Maria is going to study law. I don’t know what area she plans to specialise in, but if she does go into criminal law I know who I’ll be calling to be my defence lawyer if I am ever up before the High Court!

Maria’s interview on Campbell Live is here, for those interested.

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54 Responses to “I’m starting to think this girl is quite smart”

  1. Fale Andrew Lesa (473 comments) says:

    Some very well-established credentials for someone so young and yet so talented: clearly one to watch out for in the world of academics.
    Its a small shame she’s a Wellingtonian, then again it just means that Aucklander’s need to catch up again. I know that Kings College, Auckland Grammar and other Auckland private schools tend to dominate in such areas so its very pleasing to see some new blood from the capital.

    I don’t mean to brag but I also hear her mother’s Samoan? I’m sure both sides of the family are very proud.

    Like you David, she would be very high on my list if I ever required the assistance of a legal expert.

    A job well done, as most Samoans would say at this point: Malo le Fa’amalosi ma le Galulue.

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  2. Cactus Kate (551 comments) says:

    Someone has to say it, so might as well be me.

    Definitely needs to specialise in trust law.

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  3. Rich Prick (1,705 comments) says:

    “But even worse Maria is not hated by all her peers for making them feel like stupid mortals, but from all accounts is incredibly popular and pretty much universally liked.”

    Good on Maria and very well done, this is the sort of educational aspiration we need to see more of. Not embittered teacher unions crying foul over any element of accountability through national standards that could see more of this sort of achievement being achieved by more like Maria. Again, very well done, but do please ignore Cactus, we want you in litigation.

    [DPF: I should start an auction for future employers to start bidding for Maria now :-)]

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  4. kiki (425 comments) says:

    Wonder what country will pay to have her?

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  5. Pauleastbay (5,035 comments) says:

    CK—-No no no no————- no more bloody lawyers, let her write novels thats are good for the soul, she is way to talented to be wandering around chambers billing by the minute, swatting away lecherous old less talented partners

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  6. David in Chch (519 comments) says:

    I remember knowing someone similar when I was in an outdoors club at uni. She was the best, fittest skier in the club, topped the test to get into Harvard Business School, was class president for her year, etc., etc., etc. I knew her and so knew she was also really a nice person. At a party one time, she got talking with someone who didn’t know who she was, and she finally got around to introducing herself, the other young woman said “OH! You’re So-and-So? But you’re so nice!” She expected some formidable domineering Amazon!

    Funny how that is sometimes, eh?

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  7. mavxp (483 comments) says:

    It’s great to have these people around to keep the rest of us humble. We can appreciate the talent and the hard work that goes along with it to achieve this kind of success :-)

    Yes David, I was thinking NZ uni’s are too mediocre for the likes of her talent. Ivy League or Oxbridge surely? Certainly for postgrad studies where a good school really makes a difference.

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  8. Nicholas Cross (5 comments) says:

    The New Zealand Schools Debating Team is leaving for Qatar on friday for the 2010 Championships, Maria included.

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  9. Monty (978 comments) says:

    First Catholic Head Girl at Marsden I understand.

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  10. Jack5 (5,137 comments) says:

    What an excellent and unpretentious young woman. Bill English and mother Dr Mary have a family to be proud of. Maria must be extremely intelligent, hard working, and organised, but her success is also a tribute to family values.

    The MSM and leftist knockers who attacked Bill English’s Wellington housing arrangements, clearly designed with family goals foremost, should hang their heads in shame. Young Maria may have still been as successful if the family had had to live at remote Dipton, but it would have been much harder.

    Yes Fale Andrew Lesa (9.47 post), Maria’s maternal grandad is Samoan, a Scanlon I believe. Her maternal grandmother is, I understand, Italian from Stromboli, and dad Bill is of Southland-Irish farmer stock.

    With people like Maria and Willy Apiata coming through the population blender, it’s clear the new New Zealanders emerging over the next century or two will include some very impressive people.

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  11. Rich Prick (1,705 comments) says:

    [DPF: I should start an auction for future employers to start bidding for Maria now ]

    Hmmm, an education futures market of some kind, now there’s a thought! Lets call it National Standards, or something like that! Labour won’t like that at all ;)

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  12. Angus (536 comments) says:

    Well done Maria English – the inevitable by-product of a great and functional family.

    My only hope is that she doesn’t become a lawyer – traders in human misery – cancerous polyps on the anus of civil society.

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  13. Adolf Fiinkensein (2,903 comments) says:

    When her talent is auctioned off, here’s hoping it fetches more than $45k.

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  14. Angus (536 comments) says:

    “The 18-year-old Samuel Marsden Collegiate graduate this year came top in the Cambridge International A-level English exams, a feat mirroring last year’s result, when she topped the AS-level exams in the same subject.”

    And if she did NCEA she would’ve just “achieved”

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  15. Robert Black (423 comments) says:

    Maria the best of luck.

    It has been said that all the best lawyers in New Zealand graduated from Otago.

    And when you get there give that old coot (he must be by now if he is still there) Henaghan a punch in the arm from me on the first of the month.

    He is/was a fantastic guy/law lecturer.

    And as an aside, shut up Cactus Kate.

    WTF would you know about being a lawyer?

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  16. Viking2 (11,488 comments) says:

    HMMM, lets spoil the party. Well done to the young lady, clearly her Mum & Dad know about our new standards and good stuff, but here’s the rub.
    The best users of the English language in most countries belong to the left, they are known language manipulators.
    Oh but hang on a minute English of course is from the left. ( and of course most lawyers are as well.)
    Oh bugger!

    Now if you told me that the young lady aspired to be a scientist I could get excited but lawyer ,well no.

    [DPF: Doing a law degree does not mean you will be a lawyer. Maria said on TV3 that she is doing a BA also and not sure what she will do]

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  17. cha (4,036 comments) says:

    A kid with well educated parents who grows up in a great environment with the wherewithal to do well achieves at a high level, who wouldda thunk.

    [DPF: Somewhat of a difference between high and world beating]

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  18. Tim Ellis (251 comments) says:

    I think we’re seeing the emergence of a second level of a great political dynasty.

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  19. cha (4,036 comments) says:

    Although Millie Elder had the well educated parents and an environment with the wherewithal to do well too, so the difference, Bill and Mrs Bill are damn fine parents.

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  20. toad (3,674 comments) says:

    DPF: Yeah I’m definitely starting to think she may be quite smart. I credit her mother’s genes

    Doesn’t that call into question the whole national standards issue DPF? If kids are genetically predisposed to high intellect, they will be more likely to do well like Maria. If they are genetically predisposed to low intellect they will be more likely to leave school with poor literacy and numeracy. No much national standards can do about that.

    [DPF: I'd rather not politicise this thread but national standards are not about making everyone equal. They are about identifying who needs greater assistance. Those of lower intelligence may not win essay competitions, but it is disgraceful they leave school unable to even read or write]

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  21. peterwn (3,275 comments) says:

    Robert Black – Cactus Kate IS a lawyer.

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  22. dime (9,980 comments) says:

    toads right. some kids are born dumb. screw em! let them leave school without basic skills. they can start breeding, go on the DPB, claim WFF, claim all sorts of shit. then vote left for their entire lives out of fear.

    LETS NOT EVEN TRY!!!

    toad – ya still owe me “horror stories” over the fire at will law. you said there would be countless examples of employees being mistreated. when youre ready.

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  23. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    I know that Kings College, Auckland Grammar and other Auckland private schools

    Grammar’s not a private school! Rah!

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  24. stephen (4,063 comments) says:

    And if she did NCEA she would’ve just “achieved”

    The levels are: achievement, achievement with merit and achievement with excellence. I think there is different grading for vocational subjects.

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  25. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    Obviously “quite smart”, a great achievement.

    But I’m curious, I always thought that while in maths it was easily feasible to get 100% (if you were good enough), with English a perfect score was just about impossible. Maybe I’m just wrong, or maybe they examine and mark differently these days. Is it all multiple choice now?

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  26. Dave Mann (1,224 comments) says:

    The idea that this obviously talented young woman is going to study law is, perhaps, the most depressing thing I have read on the internet this week.

    Isn’t there something useful she could do with her life?

    [DPF: Maria is doing an LLB and a BA and has not decided on her career]

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  27. Pete George (23,591 comments) says:

    It sounds like she should be smart enough to make her own choices on what further education will be useful for her.

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  28. Jeff83 (745 comments) says:

    Feeling a little dumb now!

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  29. Manolo (13,837 comments) says:

    “I see Maria is going to study law.”

    Maria English is a very bright and talented young woman and I do wish her the best in her future professional career.
    Pity she didn’t take up science, because the reality is: do we need another lawyer? Imagine what she could achieve as an engineer.

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  30. Gooner (995 comments) says:

    Labour has just announced its policy on achieving students. Hot off the press.

    Labour is going to take some of Maria’s achievements and simply give them to others as that is only fair and creates a more equal society.

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  31. queenstfarmer (782 comments) says:

    WTF would you know about being a lawyer?

    Says the guy who thinks there is no bar exam in NZ.

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  32. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    Yeah I’m definitely starting to think she may be quite smart. I credit her mother’s genes :-)

    Shame about her father.

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  33. Murray (8,847 comments) says:

    You’re a sad specimen gazz.

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  34. gravedodger (1,566 comments) says:

    A lot of this post and subsequent comment fits very well with what Mrs GD has been watching on the telly in recent days. The national yearling sales at Karaka, allowing for the untried status of those horses Maria would fit better in a ready to run sale.

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  35. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    When I was at uni they told us that roughly half of the students who complete a law degree end up being admitted to the bar. It is a great degree to do, even if you have no intention of practicing law (like Lee Child, for example).

    Interestingly enough, DPF, I find that often the academically gifted students are that crash hot as criminal lawyers. Even ones who are good at debating! In fact, often really smart people don’t do well at law because it is just so different from almost all other disciplines. I think being a good criminal lawyer is really something of an aptitude rather than being something that people of high intelligence can do. It often takes a lot of street smarts, the ability to appeal to people at all levels and not just the intellect; based on the speech report, perhaps Maria is halfway there.

    Good to see her doing well, however. I wonder if she will follow in Bill’s footsteps?

    queenstfarmer: there isn’t. Or did you mean the multiple exams we sat during profs?

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  36. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    “because the reality is: do we need another lawyer? Imagine what she could achieve as an engineer.”

    How do you know what we need? That’s what markets are for.

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  37. peterwn (3,275 comments) says:

    Queenstreetfarmer and F E Smith – The nearest in NZ to a comprehensive bar exam seems to be “New Zealand Law and Practice Examination” which some overseas qualified lawyers may be required to sit to practice in NZ. Bar exams seem to be a USA thing where each state sets its own bar exam which all applicants are required to sit.

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  38. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    I think you are correct, peterwn.

    I must say that I think I got more out of the 13 week course than I would have out of a single exam. Although I think NY State has 6 exams to qualify.

    And of course the Supreme Court has its own bar exam.

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  39. F E Smith (3,305 comments) says:

    re my 10.20 comment: I meant that the academically gifted are often NOT that crash hot as criminal lawyers!

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  40. queenstfarmer (782 comments) says:

    peterwn & FE Smith: there is a bar exam – the prescribed exams which must be passed for admission to the bar – how is that not a bar exam? There is also a version (the “Practice Examination” – okay, different name there) for overseas lawyers coming here. Granted it is not much of an “exam”, but it is one none the less. Chris Finlayson got stuck into it in that speech he gave last year.

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  41. Paulus (2,632 comments) says:

    As a grandfather of a senior pupil at the same school Maria is a well respected, even well loved, contemporary – she is a thoroughly well balanced young lady with no pretensions, as was seen on TV3 last night. Well done – a fine example of a family orientated and supported scholar.

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  42. grumpyoldhori (2,362 comments) says:

    F E Smith I do not hold a degree so I am curious why a degree in Law would be better than say an engineering degree if one is looking for a degree to build a career on ?

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  43. mavxp (483 comments) says:

    grumpyoldhori:

    Pro’s of engineering: In demand internationally (physics and mathematics are pretty much universal), mixture of practical, analytical, field, lab and office – enough to suit anyone really. Lawyers and accountants are pretty much stuck in an office, and may be restricted to local countries of expertise.

    Con’s of engineering: Pay is not as high for top engineers as it is for top lawyers or accountants. Largely due to engineers being generally crap at marketing and consequently have lower market value. Competition is fierce in some market sectors cutting profit margins to the bone as companies try and enter new markets and undercut competitors. Growth being the way the partners decide is the best way to increase their share net worth before retirement, rather than establish a quality brand and charge clients what they are worth for their skills and operate more “long term”/ best practice for industry. Companies like http://www.arup.com try and buck this trend going for quality/ growth, but are still affected by the market. Pay in NZ is around $20k – $30k lower than equivalent job in Aus.

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  44. bka (135 comments) says:

    “I don’t know what area she plans to specialise in, but if she does go into criminal law I know who I’ll be calling to be my defence lawyer if I am ever up before the High Court”
    DPF, you seem to think you would need a criminal lawyer more than another kind. I have never met you but I thought the only gang you belonged to was the VRWC!!

    Maria English clearly has talent, intelligence and character in truckloads; I am sure she will do something great with it all, and it will be interesting to see what.

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  45. Robert Black (423 comments) says:

    Queenie, you are a retard.

    There is NO bar exam in New Zealand.

    There used to subject examinations but they were replaced with a 13 week practical course in 1988.

    I did the course.

    There was no exam.

    You just had to complete some assessments and if the tutor was satisfied you became eligible to be admitted as a Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand.

    Does that sound like a BAR exam retard?

    If you are indeed a lawyer, please stay away from the “P” pipe for a little while.

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  46. Robert Black (423 comments) says:

    Kiss me Kate is a lawyer?

    If so, please accept my humble apologies.

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  47. queenstfarmer (782 comments) says:

    Robert Black, you are wrong (though I’ll have to take your word for what the requirements were back in 1988). You contradict yourself in your own post. Let’s break it down:

    1. As you say, there are a series of assessments (prescribed by the Counsel for Legal Education, I believe).
    2. These may be either passed or failed (passed or “not yet passed” in PC-speak)
    3. As you say, passing the assessments qualifies you to be admitted to the bar.

    See Part 3 of the Lawyers and Conveyancers Act 2006 (quite different from the Law Practitioners Act 1982 in force when you were admitted).

    PS If you actually want to debate this like an adult, I’m keen – but try using reason and logic, not schoolyard name calling.

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  48. PaulL (5,987 comments) says:

    1. Well done Maria.
    2. Lawyers v’s engineers. Lawyers, in general, have a level of localisation. Hard for an Indian to outsource your job. Engineers now – well, let’s just say you’re competing against more than just the old colonial empire
    3. Different aptitudes. Topping the world in English is not necessarily an indicator you’d be a good engineer – but it is pretty likely that someone who is an international debater and topped the world in English would be pretty good at law.

    I’ll readily agree we don’t need any more lawyers, and from my experience at hiring top grads from NZ universities, I often find that lawyers don’t live up to their marks – law teaches some transferable skills, but also misses a bunch of critical skills like team work. I’ve had some law students I hired that I just couldn’t turn into anything else – and they eventually went back to law.

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  49. francis (712 comments) says:

    She’s a shining light. Let’s hope she grows into a national treasure. She certainly could, whatever she does.

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  50. KtNZ (3 comments) says:

    Bill’s sister was my English teacher some years back. Totally crazy, but also completely brilliant.

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  51. Mark Unsworth (41 comments) says:

    Get up to speed Fale Andrew Lesa. The top school in the country for scholarships last year was not an auckland private school or Grammar-it was Wellington College-a stae school !!!

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  52. Fale Andrew Lesa (473 comments) says:

    You might want to swallow the bullet of your own advice Mark Unsworth and “get up to speed” with the accurate facts and figures.

    When we define the most “prestigious” New Zealand secondary schools we do not highlight scholarships alone Mr Unsworth, its important to consider a number of different internal and external factors.
    Scholarships alone might be enough to indicate schools that harbour the very well educated but the issue is a lot deeper than abnormal intellect alone.
    Access to a variety of databases including university entrance rates, teacher turnover, student suspensions and stand-downs, literacy and numeracy achievement, exam results per school (and not by individual), etc are all very helpful indicators when choosing the best education for our young adolescents.

    St Cuthbert’s, Diocesan, Epsom Girls Grammar, Baradene College, St Dominic’s, St Kentigern, Kings College and Auckland Grammar tend to dominate within the Auckland region and often dominate nationally as a result.

    Another supportive example would be the position of The University of Auckland and the international reputation that it has come to earn for itself as a result of prestigious Auckland secondary education.

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