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GirlBoss Awards shine light on young Kiwi trailblazers

Supreme winner focused on enhancing Māori culture

Nine phenomenal young Kiwi women (aged between 11 and 18) dedicated to enhancing Māori culture, giving back to their community and protecting the planet will be recognised at the GirlBoss Awards held in Auckland tonight.

The awards, sponsored by Trade Me, were created to celebrate the up-and-comers, the innovators and the bold young women who are shaping the future of New Zealand. This year’s winners were from across New Zealand: Dunedin, Wellington, Kāpiti, Taupō, Coromandel, Auckland. Each received $1,500 with the supreme winner receiving $2,000.

Alexia Hilbertidou, founder of GirlBoss NZ, said the competition this year was fierce. “It was extremely difficult for our judges to pick winners, we had 500 nominations from Paihia to Invercargill, and it’s great to see so many trailblazing young women doing such amazing things for their community and wider New Zealand.

“It’s important that we recognise the contribution of our young women and encourage them to keep striving and working hard, not only for themselves but for the great things they can do for their community, country and the world.”

Twelve-year-old Georgia Tiata Fa’atoese Latu from Dunedin received the supreme Trailblazer Award for selling, distributing and teaching the craft of poi with her business Pōtiki Poi.

Trade Me’s Dr Kathryn Hempstalk said there were plenty of inspiring entries, but Georgia’s nomination stood out. “At such a young age, Georgia is a driven young businesswoman. She is passionate about enhancing Māori culture and creating an eco-friendly product that doesn’t harm the environment. Pōtiki Poi is a great model and we look forward to following Georgia and her fantastic New Zealand story.”

Sixteen-year-old Brooke Moore from Taupō took home the Innovation Award for inventing an edible and biodegradable alternative to plastic food wrap. Wrapt launched in April and looks and feels identical to plastic wrap, and aims to reduce the amount of plastic in the environment.

The STEM Award went to 16-year-old Yashna Kumar from South Auckland. Yashna’s passion for technology and experience at Manurewa High School led her to create Makers Space, helping young people in South Auckland access tools to learn about STEM. Yashna also founded the All for One Locker Project building lockers in Manurewa to provide homeless people with a place to keep their belongings safe.

Dr Hempstalk said encouraging young women to learn about STEM is important to Trade Me. “As a large technology employer we know there is a lack of female talent coming through the door and we want to help change that which is why we’re proud to be sharing the achievements of these fantastic young women.”

Fourteen-year-old Maia Filisita Mariner from Wellington was awarded the Emerging Leader prize for creating Lazy Sneakers, a sneaker bank which connects preloved sneakers for children needing shoes.

The Online Impact Award went to 18-year-old Tayla Nasmith from Auckland who founded Mummys in Need, an online charity which helps struggling new mothers by providing them with donated baby gear.

Eighteen-year-old youth climate activist Sophie Handford from Kāpiti took home the Sustainability Award for her work raising awareness of climate change by coordinating the nationwide School Strike 4 Climate.

Eighteen-year-old Emily Hacket Pain from Auckland received the Community Award for her not-for-profit organisation PaperPensPencils which distributes surplus unused stationery supplies to lower decile schools.

The Arts & Culture Award went to 18-year-old Roseta Lopa from Wellington who is the founder of female singing group Le ART. The group’s latest song I Choose Love was written, composed and sung by Roseta, and she recently performed it for the Duke and Duchess of Sussex at Government House.

The Activator Award went to 12-year-old Hailey Jay Bolton from the Coromandel for her work teaching young children in the community about protecting the environment from predators.

Miss Hilbertidou said these young Kiwis have already begun to shape the future of New Zealand and she was looking forward to follow their stories. “What these young women have already achieved is remarkable. I cannot wait to see what they do next and I know everyone involved is looking forward to celebrating their achievements and meeting more GirlBoss Award winners next year.”


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