The recipients of the New Zealand Youth Awards 2018 were announced by Minister for Youth Peeni Henare at a celebration event in Parliament today.

“It’s my privilege to celebrate these inspirational rangatahi who are leading initiatives and supporting their communities in areas such as the arts, culture, education, business and the environment,” Peeni Henare said.

In addition to announcing 17 category Awards winners, two outstanding young people were recognised as the inaugural Junior and Senior Supreme Awards recipients.

“I am pleased to announce that Injy Johnstone was named as the Senior Supreme Award recipient, and Ranisha Chand as the Junior Supreme Award recipient. It was a difficult job singling out these two young people as all recipients have demonstrated strong commitment to their important mahi. Injy and Ranisha have worked tirelessly to make a significant contribution to addressing the needs of young people in their community and deserve this extra recognition,” Peeni Henare said.

The Awards category recipients are as follows:

New Zealand Youth Award for Leadership

• Latayvia Tualasea Tautai – National Council of Women and PACIFICA speech competition winner and regular volunteer at Mount Eden prison.
• Injy Johnstone – environmental, foster children and disability advocate and New Zealand representative on two United Nations groups.
• Kaitlyn White – President of University of Canterbury’s ‘Thursdays in Black Society’, supporting both survivors and people with harmful sexual behaviours.

New Zealand Youth Award for Inclusion and Diversity

• Oliver Tapiki-Thorpe – established rural support group for LGBTQI+ youth in Kawerau and Whakatane.
• Umi Asaka – advocate of young people with disabilities and valued member of The Lucy Foundation, a charity which speaks up for the rights of people with disabilities.
• Ranisha Chand – Shakti Youth ambassador and campaigner striving to break intergenerational cycles of family violence in migrant and refugee families.

New Zealand Youth Award for Commitment to the Environment

• E Wen Wong – founder of P.S. Our Beaches to raise awareness on plastic pollution, developing a drone to detect and geo-reference macro plastics.
• Ranger Leary – filmmaker and winner of the Enviroschools Sustainable Future Award, on the dangers of single use plastics.
• Anya Bukholt-Payne – founder of the Climate Challenge, a youth programme for climate change awareness; youngest speaker at 2018 Pacific Change Conference.

New Zealand Youth Award for Entrepreneurship

• Social Enterprise Group – St Johns College Hastings – school students teamed up with young people in prison to create ‘Bruthas Ltd’, creating and successfully selling individually crafted rimu platters. The students are currently working on ‘George’ a flexible device that will relay real time information about water and rain flows to cell phones.
• Angus Grant – farming entrepreneur started his ‘lamb foster-care’ business in suburban Christchurch post- 2010 earthquake using empty sections for grazing.

New Zealand Youth Award for Working for Youth

• Shine on Kaitaia Youth Project – overcoming rural barriers, this group of rangatahi built community spirit through youth-run events including Children’s Day, Far North Got Talent and Christmas in the Park.
• Urutapu – a group of young wāhine running community building events for young people within their hapori, hapū or whānau, including The Otira Great Race (to help rangatahi connect with their whakapapa) and Drive It (to reduce fatalities of young Māori within Tai Tokerau).
• University of Auckland Muslim Students Association – advocates for the rights of Muslim students and raises awareness through events such as Islam Awareness Week.

New Zealand Youth Award for Outstanding Youth Champion

• Halberg Disability Sport Foundation – works to enhance lives of New Zealanders with physical disabilities through sport and recreation; host annual Halberg Junior Disability Games.
• Maisy Bentley – advocate for young people at the United Nations; ran national campaign ‘True Love Is’ raising awareness on difference between true love and emotional abuse; advocated for young people, women’s issues and mental health at events such as the International Leadership Alliance for Women and the Women in Law Committee.
• NZ Blue Light Ventures Incorporated – improves relationships between the New Zealand Police, young people, their whānau and the wider community, running hundreds of programmes across 60 towns and cities each year.

“It is hugely important to acknowledge the mahi that Aotearoa’s youth put into the present and future of our nation. The New Zealand Youth Awards recognises the hours, commitment, and perseverance that goes into affecting positive change. For me personally, this award recognises the strength of diversity and inclusivity in leadership particularly for youth with access needs and that come from disadvantaged backgrounds,” Injy Johnstone said.

“Receiving an award assured me that I was making a positive change in the community through my passion for feminism and social justice for migrant women and young people. This recognition helps in amplifying my voice for others who are less fortunate. While I feel my contribution towards making change is small, it is nonetheless significant enough to change the mindsets of others and also break negative societal stereotypes. I believe that when I speak it’s not just me talking, but I am representative of other young people who are yet to gain the confidence to voice their opinions,” Ranisha Chand said.

“The Awards winners will inspire and encourage other young people to get involved and make a difference. I’d also like to recognise all of those who were nominated for an Award this year. It’s demonstrated to me that Aotearoa New Zealand is in good hands for the future. Our country is full of committed, creative, and talented young people who are leading change and developing innovative solutions,” Peeni Henare said.