Youth Week 2015 Awards celebrate young New Zealanders' achievements

10 August 2015

On 26 May 2015, Hon Nikki Kaye, Minister for Youth, announced 40 recipients of the Youth Week 2015 Award.

These awards recognise and celebrate the outstanding contributions that young people make to our communities and those that have made significant contributions to support young people. They celebrate exceptional individuals and groups who are valued as active members of their communities.

Youth Week 2015 Award recipients were recognised formally at an Awards ceremony held at Parliament on 26 May 2015. This event was a great opportunity to showcase the outstanding recipients and congratulate them for their achievements.

Below are some stories from Youth Week 2015 Award recipients where they share what receiving the award meant to them.

Emma Paton - Youth with Disability Award

Emma Paton, Youth Week 2015 Award recipient

My name is Emma Paton and I am profoundly deaf. I have bi-lateral cochlear implants and I also use NZ Sign Language to communicate. I help organise events for Otago Deaf Youth. These events bring young deaf people together to meet each other and be involved in activities and to build friendships and confidence. I go on camps with deaf groups and help with leadership. I also speak to groups and parents of deaf children and share my experiences of being deaf. The annual Loud Shirt Day is when I get my workplace in Oamaru involved as part of the national fundraising day for  people with cochlear implants. Bright shirts get worn and it's a fun day to raise money for a good cause.

I received a Youth Award during Youth Week in the category of Youth with Disability. I was very excited to receive this award and honoured to give a speech on behalf of the recipients in my category. It was a wonderful experience to go to Wellington and attend the awards ceremony. I got to see lots of young people who have been doing amazing things in their community. It was really inspiring. 

Since winning the award I have had lots of people asking me about the work I do with deaf youth so I think there has been more awareness and interest. 

Written by Emma Paton, Youth Week 2015 Youth with Disability Award recipient

Josiah Tualamali'i - Change Maker Award

Josiah Tualamali’I Change Maker Award recipient

For the last 5 years I been involved with the Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation Council (or PYLAT Council). We were all brought together to be part of a Pacific youth parliamentary simulation in Christchurch where we looked at issues that affected Pasifika communities in NZ and our country. After the earthquakes in Christchurch it became very difficult to continue to do our work as the support we had from other groups before was now gone. So that meant becoming our own organisation in 2014 and a charitable trust at the start of 2015. 

I have been the Chairman since 2013 so pretty much my work involves running the board, building relationships in the community, advocating for young people, sitting on different boards and advisory groups to ensure they have the best information and can best support young people, and presenting to people and groups across the country so that they have this information too. Since the earthquakes, our role has gotten even busier in Christchurch as there was lots of consultation. One of the big strengths now, is our youth sector in wider Christchurch have Youth Voice Canterbury, a way for all youth councils, youth groups and youth focused organisations to work together. One of the other key groups I sit on for PYLAT is the National Youth Advisory Group to MYD. This national body of young people means that there is a strong supported youth voice advocating for youth issues and needs to the government. One of the major successes of our group has been supporting the running of this years national youth awards and finally our submission on why young people did not vote which we presented at Parliament in July. 

I was really surprised to win a Youth Week award this year. For me serving others is really important, but it is a normal day to day thing. The Youth Week award said to me that the work that the PYLAT Council and I get to do, is valued by the Minister for Youth and the Ministry. What made it even more special was that I also got to host the evening for Hon. Nikki Kaye at Parliament and my friends Diane and Sera from the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs Office in Christchurch came to the awards ceremony. The whole evening looked like best practise in supporting young people as at least 20 got to hold positions in the running of the evening.

The key one is for Christchurch youth groups it has been a very difficult time these last few years, knowing that the work we have been doing is seen to be positively contributing to the recovery is important to us. This has also introduced me to some fantastic people like Xavier,Caitlin, Brad and Jason so that we can share what we have been doing and collaborate.

Written by Josiah Tualamali'i, Youth Week 2015 Change Maker Award recipient

Liam McLeavey - Working for Youth

Liam Mcleavey

Kia ora, my name is Liam McLeavey and I am the founder of Youth Jobs Horowhenua. Youth Jobs Horowhenua is a service designed to connect youth with businesses and businesses with youth.

This year I have been focusing on the future and development of the service. I am involved quite heavily with youth locally in the Horowhenua and nationally. I was the Deputy Chairman of the Horowhenua Youth Council in 2014 and at the beginning of this year I was appointed to the Ministry of Youth Development National Youth Advisory Group, which I thoroughly enjoy.

Recently I was awarded a Ministry of Youth Development Working for Youth Award that was presented by the Minister for Youth Affairs, Hon Nikki Kaye in Wellington at Parliament. When I got the email saying I had won the award, I was totally shocked. To be recognised for the work you do, it’s a really special thing and I’m proud to be one of the people that have received that specific award. The theme for Youth Week this year was We are the future/Kō tātau te ao o āpōpō and I can tell you now, we are heading for an amazing future.

Written by Liam McLeavey, Youth Week 2015 Working for Youth Award recipient

Natalie Germann - Giving Back Award

Natalie Germann

I was truly humbled to receive a 2015 Youth Week Award for the ‘Giving Back’ category - it was completely unexpected! I have always had a passion for service and community work and have been privileged enough to have had many opportunities to do so. My current involvements include mentoring at Auckland Women’s Prison, assisting in weekly music workshops for youth with disabilities, phone counselling, working in drug and alcohol rehabilitation, volunteering at Auckland City Hospital’s mental health ward, International Director for Auckland City's Rotaract club, and Post-Graduate Representative on the University of Auckland’s Ethics committee.

I am passionate about empowering individuals to reach their full potential in life and create a positive future, regardless of their past. This year I began studying towards a Doctorate in Clinical Psychology and am extremely excited to embark on a journey that will allow me to turn my passion into a career. I was incredibly inspired by the other Youth Award recipients and have made some long-lasting connections that I am sure will grow well into the future. I’d like to dedicate this award to Youthline, Starjam, Ruth Patterson of PARS and Julie Hagan of Auckland ADHB - all of whom do incredible work within our communities and help make a difference to the lives of many New Zealanders.

Written by Natalie Germann, Youth Week 2015 Giving Back Award recipient

Christchurch Youth Council - Youth Group Award

Christchurch youth council

Here at The Christchurch Youth Council, we are a group of 16 young people from all around Christchurch, ranging in age from 12-24 years. We aim to ‘join the dots’ to create connections with decision makers, to influence positive change for young people. We also love to ‘make some noise’ by engaging with young people to canvas their opinions on all matters concerning youth. Thirdly, we try to ‘open those doors’ by aiming to provide opportunities for young people to be involved in our amazing, ever-changing city.

It was an absolute honour to receive the MYD Youth Week ‘Youth Group’ award recently. We were super excited after hearing the news and it tied in really nicely with our Youth Councillors completing over 1100 volunteer hours so far in 2015.

We have benefitted from the award in a heap of ways - these are just some of them: believing in ourselves just a little bit more, our friends in the youth sector being happy that Christchurch’s Youth Council is on its way, and our office having a shiny new trophy twinkling in the corner!

Written by Christchurch Youth Council member Sophie