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Everyday Young New Zealanders saluted

Hon Nanaia Mahuta
Minister of Youth Affairs, Minister of Customs, Minister of Local Government, Associate Minister for the Environment, Associate Minister of Tourism,
MP for Tainui

28 May 2008 Media Statement

Everyday Young New Zealanders saluted

Youth Affairs Minister Nanaia Mahuta is today saluting 12 Young New Zealanders chosen from across the country to be part of a special Youth Week ceremony at Parliament this evening.

The young people were chosen from more than 140 nominations for the Celebrating Everyday Young New Zealanders event.

“I’m impressed by the quality of the nominations received from across the country, and this highlights the extent and variety of the many positive things young people are doing in our communities every day,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

Nanaia Mahuta said those nominated for Celebrating Everyday Young New Zealanders made marked contributions to their communities, from environmental work, volunteering, entrepreneurship, mentoring, sporting/cultural success, to young people who had turned their lives around.

“Each of the nominees works hard to create quality relationships in their communities. All of them are passionate about making a difference,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

The twelve young people, whose contributions are being celebrated are:

Tuhulu 'Oe Mo'oni 'Isileli-Fo'ou (Pukekohe)
• Ariana Denise Toetoe (Manurewa)
• Vau Atonio ( South Auckland)
• Te Rawhitiroa Bosch (Whaingaroa /Raglan)
• Bryn Baz Tunohopu Palmer (Mount Maunganui)
• Sian Te Riini (Rotorua)
• James Tautuku (Hawera)
• Paula Strickland- Laumemea (Porirua)
• Harriet Salisbury (Wellington)
• Josh Fitzgerald (Motueka)
• Greg Sinclair (Westport)
• Paula MacKenzie (Gore)

‘‘It takes courage and commitment to use the skills you have to make a difference. From championing those less fortunate, challenging negative stereotypes, organising dance competitions, to being a volunteer fire-fighter, each of the young people nominated, have a great sense of community,” Nanaia Mahuta said.

“It’s great to know that through the relationships these young people have formed, more young people lives are enriched.”

Young New Zealanders are volunteering in a variety of ways through: their communities, sport, church, cultural groups and schools. Volunteering provides an opportunity for young people to develop valuable social and organisational skills and boosts self confidence.

The 12 young people reflect the diverse nature of their communities and have contrasting achievements highlighting the variety of activities in which young people engage.

For more information about Celebrating Everyday Young New Zealanders, go to http://www.myd.govt.nz/eventsconferences/celebratingeverydayyoungnewzealanders

Celebrating Everyday Young New Zealanders is part of Youth Week 08, where the focus is on relationships. The Youth Week 08 website has all of the events listed, to find out what is on in your region go to www.youthweek.org.nz

--

Profiles of the 12 young people selected for the Celebrating Everyday Young New Zealanders event


Tuhulu ‘Oe Mo’oni ‘Isileli-Fo’ou
Age: 18
Tongan
Pukekohe

Tuhulu is a young father and artist. He is currently attending Manukau Technical Institute doing a Diploma in Visual Arts. He prefers to be the spectator rather than the spectacle. Tuhulu has always been interested in art, and most recently, graffiti art. As a younger boy he would spend lots of time watching other artists legally bombing walls in Auckland.

Tuhulu has been involved in removing tagging from the walls of Pukekohe, and through this work he was approached by the Pukekohe Youth Centre Coordinator to paint the centre. He did this work on a volunteer basis to help show people the difference between art and tagging.

He has gone on to produce art works for the Tuakau and Jubilee swimming pools and /a building along port Waikato. These walls, according to his knowledge, have not been tagged since he painted them.

His work has also formed part of the 2008 Child Poverty Action Group calendar. Tuhulu is a young man who through his artistic skills has helped build a greater sense of community pride. He is an inspiration for young people to respect property, appreciate all forms of art work and realise that they can make an impact on others by doing positive things in their community.

Ariana Denise Toetoe
Age: 16 years
NZ Maori
Manurewa, Auckland

Ariana is currently a boarding student at Turakina Maori Girls College in Marton. She is a high achiever and aspires to attain high results with her studies. She attended kohanga from birth, followed by total immersion Maori at Primary school. She is the first in her family to make it as far in education or schooling. In a recent achievement, she won first place as Kaitataki Wahine (female lead) for her kapahaka group at the school’s Manuariki competition. Her family are very proud of her.

Ariana has developed into a mature young lady who is responsible, reliable, and very proud of her way of life. She is a positive role model amongst her peers and inspires others to do well in school. Ariana’s eldest sister, who nominated her, believes she should be acknowledged for her achievements and commitment to study, as “it doesn’t take much for young people from low socio economic backgrounds to veer off track in terms of their education”.

Ariana has identified that she would like to become a police officer specialising in forensics. She is fundraising and seeking holiday jobs to put herself through her future university studies.

Vau Atonio
Age: 20
Samoan
South Auckland

Vau is one of the core group members of the Black Friars Theatre Company, a company that aims to keep talented young Polynesian people off the street and on the stage. He is currently in his second year of completing a Bachelor of Performing and Screen Arts at Unitec. As the leader of the Black Friars company, Vau has worked tirelessly to bring Shakespeare to young Polynesian to illustrate the universality and relevance of his works.

Vau uses his skills as both a performer and public speaker to challenge negative Polynesian stereotypes: that they are dumb and are just meant to work in factories. Vau is testament to the opposite, he was dux of his school and has been acutely aware of the box that many people like to put young Islanders in. His passion to empower other young Polynesians is allowing other young Polynesians in South Auckland to realise that they too can achieve their dreams. He has been described as an amazing ambassador for Polynesian youth and a powerful mentor.

Te Rawhitiroa Bosch
Age: 22
Ngati Kahu, Pakeha
Whaingaroa / Raglan

Te Rawhitiroa Bosch is committed to life. As the National Youth Coordinator for the Enviroshools Foundation, he uses his creativity to make connections and create a greater awareness and empowerment of rangatahi around Aotearoa and Te Waipounamu.

In his role as National Youth Coordinator, Te Rawhitiroa shone as an instigator, mentor, facilitator and leader in the inaugural Enviroshools Youth Jam in 2007. Te Rawhitiroa promotes sustainable communities, respects diversity, is committed to Maori perspectives and always takes a student centred approach. This means he has developed into a powerful motivator for everyone he works with. He has realised the importance of connecting with other people and working together to make things happen, as a result of this he values his relationships with all of the great people around him.

Heidi Mardon, National Director of the Enviroschools programme says “At an individual level, when we go into schools young people gravitate towards him, because he listens and is fun. He is a great role model because he makes personal attributes like being respectful, passionate, caring and committed to making respecting our environment cool for young people - he makes it okay from them to be caring and committed themselves.”

“This country really needs role models for living sustainably – people that have the courage to stand up for their planet and to bring out the potential in the people around them. I think that Te Rawhitiroa is one of the emerging young leaders in this area.”

Bryn Baz Tunohopu Palmer
Age: 17 years
Maori
Mount Maunganui, Tauranga

Bryn’s years of schooling were difficult for him as he was seen as ‘different’. He was later diagnosed with Aspergers Syndrome (Autistic Spectrum). Despite consistent bullying, Bryn stuck at school, doing his best to deal with things himself using strategy, rather than adult intervention. He has spent his secondary years at Mount Maunganui College where he has been supported to succeed by Kaye Sutherland, the best teacher in the world, Anne Sweet and Deputy Principal Tina Yule. He is now in Year 13. The College calls on Bryn when they need a computer technician; he is admired and looked up to as a role model by the younger students; he has friends and a social life.

In 2007, Bryn and SIDS New Zealand Incorporated; a national organisation that provides services for families and communities when children have died of any cause including SIDS (cot death) were selected to take part in a yMedia project, the UberSavvy Conference. The conference involved young students and aimed to teach non profit organizations about the digital generation. Bryn, along with two graduating media students Anthea Whittle and Hayden Hunter, updated SIDS New Zealand’s one-page website into a fully functional business tool. Bryn was given exposure to the latest web development software and continues to develop the site. Margret Free from SIDS NZ says about Bryn “You couldn’t meet a more kind and generous young man.”

Sian Te Riini
Age: 20
Female
Maori
Rotorua

Sian Te Riini is based in Rotorua and works with and for young people. In high school she helped establish an all girls dance troupe to help empower young women with their performing arts abilities and is now currently working with another group of young ladies assisting them to becoming great role models overall, for the community.

Sian is currently employed as a Youth advocate/peer support worker by Rau o Te Huia Community Trust where she works with high schools helping to educate young people about alcohol and drug abuse, self esteem and personal goals. Sian's area of expertise professionally is mental health, and more generally youth development and outreaching volunteering.

She has a wonderful ability to develop trusting relationships with young people and helps them to understand issues they may face. She is an advocate for many young people and their whanau. Sian is an active member of her local community, organising huka hula hop, youth balls and being part of other youth groups who organise and hold week to week programs for other young people.
Sian leads by example, encouraging others to dream, to achieve and to become active young adults in their communities also.

James Tautuku
Age: 19 years
Maori
Hawera, South Taranaki

Michael Jackson inspired James to dance. Growing up in rural schools he was always dancing. Talent quests, choral singing, and high school Stage Challenges developed his talents. Through this he discovered a passion for interacting with the community.

James formed the first hip-hop/krump crew in South Taranaki, PKC (Peace Krump Crew). He initiated PKC to help keep Hawera youth out of trouble by giving them something fun to positively channel their energy towards. He tutors weekly hip-hop dance classes and organises krump battles, performances and fundraisers aiming to reach his dream of coordinating a dance organisation. He has steadily built up the profile of PKC, and parents and community members are now supporting them with venues, transport, food, helpers and fundraisers. James is inspiring the youth in his town to dream big.

“His confidence has increased massively,” enthuses James’ mentor Bianca Aldridge, “He has developed great relationships throughout the community. He now knows how to gain adult support and build his ideas and make them into reality.”

Previously there had been no groups for Hawera youth to be involved in besides youth groups or gangs. PKC has provided consistent events and a positive place for youth to hang out. James informally mentors individuals within the group. This initiative has given youth in Hawera something accessible, fun and relevant for them to get involved in, build their confidence and unlock their hidden talent.

Paula Strickland-Laumemea
Age 21
Samaon/ Cook Island Maori
Porirua

Hollah FM is the brain child of Paula Strickland–Laumemea. After leaving college and uncertain about a career path, Paula decided to complete a pre-entry nursing course a Whitireia Polytechnic and went on to start a Bachelor of Nursing. She also worked as a youth announcer for Samoa Capital Radio. It was then that Paula realised she was more passionate about radio than nursing. So in 2006, she completed her diploma in Broadcasting.

Hollah FM was born after a chance meeting with three young women in 2007. After a year of planning, the group’s community owned station went to air in January 2008. The station targets young people living in Porirua. Over 40% of the population is under 24 years old. Hollah FM is an innovative initiative for Porirua City because it directly engages with young people in the community through music. The station is run by young people for young people. By holding youth nights at a local community centre, and promoting the positive achievements of young people in Porirua, Hollah FM has built a solid listenership.

At 21, Paula is running her own business and is an inspiration for many young people in the Porirua community.

Harriet Salisbury
Age: 14 years
European
Lowry Bay, Wellington

Harriet, since age 11, has suffered from anorexia and OCD and has spent a total of over 2 years in the Rangatahi Unit, Kenepuru Hospital. She has not let these issues get in her way. She is currently in Year 10 at Athena Montessori School in Wellington. She is a volunteer for SAFE (Save Animals from Exploitation), WARN (Wellington Animal Rights Network), SPCA, and the RDA (Riding for the Disabled). She is also a member of Greenpeace and PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and contributes to the PETA2 website. Harriet has fundraised countless times for the above mentioned organisations.

She is not only an animal rights volunteer, she has also instigated many environmental actions in RRAIS (Regional Rangatahi Acute Inpatient Service) and at school. These include power saving campaigns, recycling, and reducing waste. She has also organised educational visits to the Wellington SPCA. Meghann Russell, Harriet’s friend who nominated her, says “I think these achievements and contributions to the environment and animal rights community are phenomenal considering she has spent years in and out of hospital, even when suffering with severe mental illness. Harriet is only 14 but can hold a conversation about topical issues better than those far beyond her years.”

Josh Fitzgerald
Age: 18
Pakeha
Motueka

Josh was born in Nelson and raised in Motueka. He is the head boy at Motueka High School. Josh is a keen cyclist and his love of the outdoors has informed much of the work he has done in the community. He is committed to developing his leadership skills to ensure other young people are able to experience the power of working in a supportive environment. He has worked as a mentor on Whenua-iti, which is set up to help young people at risk by motivating them to participate in outdoor activities. He has also attended the Boyle River outdoor centre leadership course where he learnt the importance of leading from the back.

Josh has put into practise the skills he has learnt by organising the Motueka High School contribution to The Relay for Life. He wanted to show the school as being motivated, respectful and committed to their community.

Greg Sinclair
Age: 18
New Zealander
Waimangaroa/ Westport, South Island West Coast

Greg joined the Fire Service as a cadet at age 12. For the last three years he has been a full member of the Volunteer Fire Service in Westport and now trains the cadets. Greg was Head Boy at Buller High School last year and as such was actively involved in the community, speaking at Lions Clubs and representing both the Fire Service and his High School in the ANZAC Parade.

He has represented his school at national events and attended an Outward Bound Course which helped develop his leadership qualities. Greg lost his mother to cancer very suddenly a few years ago and after that became a Victim Support worker. He is involved in youth groups, has helped to organise Blue Light Rages and drug and alcohol free dances and is involved in the Town Watch, a voluntary community patrol.

Greg is currently working towards applying to the Fire Service to become full-time. Family friend Claire Helm, who nominated Greg, says “Greg has been an example, by the life he leads, to many within his community. He has become a wonderful young man who touches many by being himself and touches others by the services he does. He has kept his fun and humour and achieved a maturity that makes him someone to celebrate.”

Paula MacKenzie
Age: 17
Pakeha
Southland

Paula hails from the deep south where she in an important leader in the St Peter’s College school community. She is actively involved in school life, in sports, performing arts and liturgy. Paula leads the Social Justice Committee which in concerned with raising student awareness of those suffering in both her local community and in various international settings.

Paula’s work on the school health committee has helped the college receive a silver heart beat award for promoting healthy eating. Paula is seen as a role model for younger students to make the most of all the opportunities that the school and church community offer. She is leading a group of students in attending World Youth Day in Sydney in July, an international gathering of young Catholics attended by Pope Benedict.

Paula has developed superb organisational skills which she needs not only for each of the activities she is involved with, but in order to fit them all into her own hectic schedule and remain on top of her academic studies. She has also developed excellent communication, problem solving and people skills. Paula’s personal sincerity, informed arguments, dogged determination and obvious passion becomes infection for all around her.

ENDS

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