NZ’s most creative secondary school students acknowledged in the Bright Awards

Media Design School’s annual Bright Awards, which recognise and celebrates up and coming creative talents from secondary schools around the country, have been announced, with Pakuranga College taking top honours – named Bright School of the Year.

The third annual Bright Awards sought out digital design submissions from Year 11–13 students to showcase and celebrate their creative nous in digital design and technology. Winners were handpicked for five categories on offer, including Animation, Graphic Design, Games, Web and Interactive, and Photography.

Winning students came from: Cashmere High School, Pakuranga College, Hillcrest High School, Long Bay College, and Macleans College.

Each category winner was awarded two major cash prizes: $1,000 for the student and $3,000 for their secondary school to put towards further nurturing their students’ creative digital abilities.

“We’re delighted to see such an array of inspiring work from across Aotearoa.  These awards are a great opportunity for young creatives to showcase their talent and the calibre this year is as high as ever,” said Bright Awards Head Judge and Media Design School Lecturer, Jim Murray.

“None of the work on display would be possible without the support of the teachers and schools who challenge and inspire these students. If this is a sample of the emerging creative talent across NZ, then we have a bright future ahead.”

The list of winners can be found below.


Graphic Design category winner

Faith Belisario (Year 13 at Hillcrest High School in Hamilton).  Project name: The Year was 1985

Faith created her project as a development of a mock animated film, from its characters, posters, and the overall story of the film. Her story follows the main protagonist, Valentina, in the less than stellar fictional suburbia town of Croywater. She unlocks a new found power of time travel and is sent back to 1985 with an accidental time jump by a mysterious force. The judges’ were highly impressed and commented on her “beautifully illustrated and well-constructed style decoded from 80’s design and pop culture referencing”.


Photography category winner

Abbie Simpson (Year 12 at Long Bay College in Auckland) Project Name: Horror/ Death

Abbie’s ‘Horror/death’ composition is a haunting collection of black and white, gothic-inspired photos.  Judges complimented her usage of multiple exposures and choice to go black and white. “The images create the discomfort the photographer is looking for. More than just a nice image.. these photographs create feelings.”


Animation category winner

Joel Graham (Year 11 at Cashmere High School in Christchurch) Project Name: Three Short Stories

Joel’s entry includes three unique animated stories, demonstrating a few of the animation styles he has experimented with. The judges complimented his variation with style & aesthetic as well as his animation timing. Overall they were “highly impressed with the level of work” that Joel produced.  


Games category winner

Yuewei Zhang (Year 13 at Pakuranga College in Auckland). Project name: Totally Realistic Sledding VR

Totally Realistic Sledding is a one of its kind VR sledding game that lets you control your sled by pulling the ropes attached to it. Programmed in the Unity Engine, the game was intentionally designed with a low poly style to compliment the ‘wacky’ physics. Judges complimented Yuewei’s impressive use of VR technology, along with the ‘fun sledding action’ in the gameplay. 


Web + Interactive category winner

Kate Middleton (Year 13 at Macleans College in Auckland). Project name: Veil Poetry Festival Website

Kate created her entry to express the topics of physical expression of our identity through the creation of a website for a poetry festival. The judges described it as a “Beautiful integration of photography and illustration.” They complimented her “well crafted design with slick typography and contemporary colour story.


Keen to enter next year? Keep an eye on the Bright Awards website.

Graphic Design award winner
Graphic Design Winner - Faith Belisario
Photography Winner - Abbie Simpson
Animation Winner - Joel Graham
Games Winner - Yuewei Zhang
Web & Interactive Winner - Kate Middleton