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Top Technology student in New Zealand


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Mackey Johnstone (OC 2019), has left a lasting legacy at St Andrew’s College, both as a top scholar, and for creating a project which continues to have a daily positive impact for staff during the lunchtime food rush.

He says he was ‘stoked and a little shocked’ to find out he was the top Technology student in New Zealand, following the 2019 NCEA Scholarship examinations when he received a perfect score. “I thought I must have read the result wrong. I was surprised and very excited.”

Mackey also won an Outstanding Scholarship for his project, which was to create an online staff payment system for the College Cafeteria. To complete food orders using the system, staff now simply swipe their St Andrew’s College ID tag in front of a screen on the Cafeteria counter. Their purchases are automatically charged to their account and later automatically deducted from their pay. This has significantly sped up the purchase process and greatly reduced the length of the staff queue each break time. “The staff lines in the Cafeteria had always been a problem. When Head of Innovation and Information Services, Wilj Dekkers, and I first talked about the project, it seemed a perfect fit. It was a great thing to do for the College community, and I knew the advanced technology would challenge me and show my skills.”

It was with help from various other stakeholders at St Andrew’s, particularly ICT Systems Administrator, Joshua Harrison, that Mackey’s system was able to be fully integrated into the College’s IT network. “Joshua was a great help, particularly around integration and security. Helpdesk Supervisor, Kagan King also had some ingenious, random ideas that helped, and others in the IT Department provided great support as well.”

Mackey enjoyed working with a range of stakeholders on the project, including Cafeteria Manager, Sharon McDonald, and the Accounts and Communications teams, who provided feedback on the project design, and how the information and transactions should flow. “It was great to interact with people who had an investment in the project, and who wanted it to succeed.”

Mackey says ICT teacher, Phil Adams, also provided fantastic support. “He inspired me to push myself with all the technology and was an instrumental figure in my success.”

Phil Adams is understandably proud of Mackey’s achievements. “He is a curious, talented, and hard-working student, who balanced the demands of multiple stakeholders to build a great solution. He also did a good job of writing up the project, summarising all the decisions he made and the reasoning behind them, which the markers found very valuable.”

Mackey says the almost 60-page document he put together to outline his project was highly detailed. “It included all of the conversations I had with stakeholders, and the ton of problems I ran into and how we solved them.”

This year, Mackey is enjoying his studies in Computer Science at the University of Canterbury, and says he is proud of his top student achievement, and his project. “I loved every minute of it. It was a great motivator to wake up and do some work that was really fun. Working with stakeholders and creating solutions in the real world is something I would happily do as a career.”

Mackey Johnstone (OC 2019), with Marketing Communications Co-ordinator, Camila Reyes, and Cafeteria Assistant, Marlene Scott

Mackey Johnstone (OC 2019), has left a lasting legacy at St Andrew’s College.