New Zealand Youth Awards

New Zealand Youth Awards Update

Each year, the Ministry of Youth Development - Te Manatū Whakahiato Taiohi conducts a review of the New Zealand Youth Awards (NZYA) and the general youth awards landscape and gathers feedback from the rangatahi participants. The review and feedback is used to adapt and evolve future NZYA programmes.

Evidence shows that there is a saturation of awards programmes targeting Aotearoa New Zealand’s young people and that the NZYA are no longer unique. Feedback from participants told us that while they felt honoured to be celebrated and recognised, they believed that there was more value to be found in development programmes such as internships which provide real-life learning opportunities.

It has become clear that that the NZYA has run its natural course and has lost its unique value proposition. The time is right to cease the programme and consider how best to support young people going forward. 

We encourage you to check out some of the other awards programmes targeted at Aotearoa New Zealand's young people - we will update this page with more information as we receive it.

2019 New Zealand Youth Awards Recipients

The New Zealand Youth Awards were designed to recognise and celebrate the passion, success and commitment of rangatahi (aged 12 to 24 years), who are leading change, innovating and creating solutions throughout Aotearoa New Zealand.

The recipients of the 2019 New Zealand Youth Awards were announced by then Minister for Youth Hon Peeni Henare at a celebration event which took place on 24 June at Parliament. Then Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern was also there to present The Prime Minister's Exemplar Award to two deserving young people. Altogether, 14 outstanding rangatahi were recognised across seven Awards categories.

The Prime Minister's Exemplar Award

  • Jess Rose Collins (21, Palmerston North) is passionate about supporting Māori mental health and preventing suicide.
  • Aroha Lawrence (20, Kaikohe) a community leader and champion for differently abled rangatahi.

Te Manukura - Leadership Award

  • Irihapeti Edwards (20, Whangarei/Auckland) is a champion of global citizenship and youth participation.
  • Fahad Shehzad (17, Auckland) is a young Muslim student at Mt Roskill Grammar School who stepped up and guided his school’s response to the Christchurch Mosque attacks.

Te Raukura - Inclusion Award

  • Jaskiran Kaur Rahi (12, Wellington) created her social enterprise Spirit and Soul to empower young girls to explore career opportunities such as STEM, the Police, and the Armed Services.
  • Rongxue Shen (22, Auckland) initiated a project called WNZW (WǒMen: New Zealand Women) which seeks to empower and inspire women from ethnic minorities to pursue leadership roles.

Taiao - Commitment to the Environment Award

  • Niels Grosmann (17, Auckland) is a creative problem-solver who uses his technical know-how to solve real-world environmental issues.
  • Sophie Handford (18, Kāpiti) is a young environmentalist who organised the first New Zealand School Strike 4 Climate which was held on 15 March 2019 and engaged 20,000 young people in climate action.

Mahi Tahi - Collective Award

  • Teresa Lee (20, Waitematā) is a young Chinese-New Zealander who is passionate about youth empowerment, diverse leadership and inclusivity.
  • Robin Kapeteni (20, Manurewa) is a youth leader in South Auckland and integral to the development and delivery of MYSTORY, which entails youth-focused events designed to give space to young people to share their stories.

Auaha - Innovation Award

  • Grace Stratton (19, Auckland) is described as passionate, innovative and driven to bring the fashion/beauty industry and the disability community together.
  • Christina Min (17, Auckland) is passionate about supporting low-vision children and created Touch to Read, an initiative which creates tactile children’s books for pre-school children with low vision.

Tūao - Volunteer Award

  • Petra Jellyman (16, Kaikōura) has been a member of the Kaikōura Youth Council since 2013, an Assistant Brownie leader with GirlGuiding NZ, and a member of the GirlGuiding NZ Ranger Advocacy Panel.
  • Rawhiti Erstich-Coles (18, Kaikohe) is a representative on the Students Against Dangerous Driving National Committee, a youth mentor and a member of the Far North Youth Council.

Detailed biographies of each recipient are available here.