Awards shine light on inspiring Hastings youth
At a special awards evening at Waipatu Marae this week, 24 deserving young people were recognised for their achievements against the odds at the 2019 Youth Potential Awards.
Now in their 13th year, the annual Hastings District Council-run Ngā Tohu Aumangea Youth Potential Awards were instigated as way to acknowledge the efforts of young people who, despite challenging circumstances, were setting and achieving their goals.
Aged between 13 and 19, the awards were in three categories (tane (male), wahine (female) and roopu (group)) and the recipients were nominated by the likes of local services providers, youth groups, marae and schools who could see that this kind of acknowledgement would further encourage them to pursue success.
The evening was made extra special due to the surprise appearance of home-grown international basketball superstar Steven Adams.
His attendance was kept under wraps until the moment the awards were about to be presented when he appeared on stage alongside Hastings Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst and MC for the evening Hastings ambassador and councillor Henare O’Keefe.
After a waiata from the Hastings Intermediate School kapa haka group, the award recipients conducted a quick question and answer session with Adams where the audience learnt one of his role models growing up aside from his Dad was Gordon Ramsay, and that the main things he missed about New Zealand was the culture and the people.
The recipients then went on stage to receive their award and a specially designed and signed basketball singlet, and to have a photo taken with Adams and the mayor.
One of those to receive an award was Year 9 Te Kura Kaupapa Māori o Te Wānanga Whare Tapere o Takitimu student Pania Paku, aged 13.
She prompted a laugh with Adams on stage, who towered above her when presenting her award, and ahead of the ceremony shared her ambition to one day become a hairdresser like her sister.
Mayor Sandra Hazlehurst said these awards were a highlight event of the council calendar, and that the aim was to support and encourage young people like Pania to reach their potential and achieve their ambitions.
“Some of our other award recipients want to go on to become surgeons and study languages, which is amazing given the enormous difficulties they have overcome. Sometimes life is not very easy and it takes courage to face the
challenges in front of you – these awards are about recognising your attitude of strength in the face of challenging times,” she said.
“We are hugely grateful to Steven Adams for taking the time to give back to our young people. He was inspiring in that he has amazing talent but also works incredibly hard.”
The celebration ended with more waiata, a group photo with Adams, and a meal.