Fifteen bright stars aged between 12 and 24 were nominated from within the Whau community, to receive recognition at the Whau Youth Awards which were held last month at Browne Street Café in Avondale.
The awards honour rangatahi who live, work, play, live out their faith, and study in the Whau – Blockhouse Bay, Green Bay, New Windsor, New Lynn, Avondale, and Kelston, for their services and positive community impact.
This year’s event was led by Youth Horizons Kia Puawai with the support of the Whau Youth Board, Whau Youth Providers Network, and the Whau Local Board who supported and funded this event.
The award winners are:
Shania Rao: Faith Beyond Boundaries award.
Shania 22yrs old has been part of Encounter Church since she was very young. She moved to Dunedin a few years ago to study to be a doctor. During a visit back to Auckland she had an accident which resulted in her having to put her schooling on hold. Her passion and heart for young people is amazing & she always goes the extra mile as a youth leader. She is dedicated and committed and turns up every Friday night with a smile on her face, she is loved by the group of young girls that she mentors.
Olivia Mallon: Mana Wahine Award
Olivia has been instrumental in growing the prestige and mana of the kapa haka group at Avondale College. She advocates strongly for all students who are in need but has a particular passion for advancing the success of Māori students. Olivia is an accomplished musician, academic and leader. As such, she is an ideal role model for youth and a superb Head Girl of Avondale College.
Faiesea Ah Chee: Striving Sister Award
Faiesea was nominated for her achievements and adversity through challenges that she has overcome, one of experiencing bullying in school. Faiesea is a hardworking young lady who is passionate about the environment and about making a difference in her community. She is a member of the Whau Youth Board, and is a stars leader as well as the Environmental Committee Leader at kelston girls college.
Janette Harwood: Community Empowerment Award
Janette, 17yrs old is a regular and valued volunteer at Feed the Streets Avondale. Janette assists with setting up the hall, prepping and cooking the meal, clean up and pack down. Janette always uses her initiative. Janette is very personable and is very popular amongst our other volunteers and guests.
June Tongalea: Snr KGHS Heart of Gold Award
June is a Yr9 student at Kelston Girls College she is kind, caring, passionate and cares about the environment. June was nominated by peers in the senior school who wanted to acknowledge her heart and dedication to making a difference and for her commitment to the Environmental Committee .
Jonathon Stevenson: Devotion to helping others Award
Jonathon has demonstrated a commitment to completing his studies despite challenges in his daily life. He completed his Level 2 course at NZSE during a difficult period in his life when he was living in emergency accommodation for a few months with no permanent accommodation planned. He is now on track to complete his Level 3 Security course and is aiming to work in the security industry. Jonathon is now flatting with the support of the Salvation Army and is thriving with the new independence he has gained from this. He has also shown a desire to advocate for young people by being part of the Whau Youth Board and the Rangatahi Chiefs at Youth Horizons.
Bailey Kenyon: Rangatahi Enterprise Award
Bailey has created his own charity fixing up old bikes to donate to West Auckland children, with the aim of providing kids with fun, confidence, and exercise, as well as improving planet Earth for future generations by reducing the number of old bikes being sent to landfill. He has created his own website and Facebook page and he takes nominations for children in need. In addition to studying and working, he uses his own time and money to source parts and work on the bikes, and has taken his passion and technical skills to find a way to give back to his community. He inspires others with his generosity and the selfless work he is doing.
Eva-Maria Ofati: Devotion to helping others Award
Eva was part of the 2019 Tula'i cohort, throughout her time on the programme she showed great courage and leadership. She grew as an individual and was always supporting ad encouraging her peers. She took up the opportunity to lead in tutoring the group with a traditional dance item & was nominated by core leaders and operations team to receive a growth award. Eva-Maria has also been an active participant of the Youth Horizons Rangatahi Chiefs – Youth Voice Group. She is hardworking, always supports and help others and is willing to go the extra mile.
Le'Oxeayn Maiu'u (LeOcean): Whau Sports Star Award
At 14 yrs old Le Oxeayn is an exceptional athlete- she plays Premier netball, she was part of the Avondale college Girls Condor 7's team, she was also selected into the New Zealand Secondary Schools Under 18 Rugby 7's team and she represented New Zealand in the World Cup. She was also the Athletics Auckland Track & Field Champion in Feb 2020 and competed in Auckland Secondary Schools Central West Athletics events. She was part of the Auckland Metro Women's team who won the National Open Women's Tag competition and was selected for the NZ Womens Team for the Trans-Tasman competition. Leocean is also in the Avondale Senior Girls Basketball team and was asked to represent Samoa in the U17's Samoa team for the Polynesian Basketball Tournament.
Paulina Bentley & Hulita Koloi Arts Excellence Award
Paulina and Hulita co-curated "Where You From?", an exhibition at the Te Uru gallery in Titirangi. This exhibition brought together young artists from the Whau area, particularly minority artists who would traditionally be under-represented in the art world, and gave them the opportunity to exhibit their works in a formal gallery space. They have worked tirelessly together since the start of this year, coordinating the artists, the gallery and organising media for the exhibit. Though the lockdown and Covid outbreak caused significant disruptions to the process, Paulina and Hulita's steadfast leadership and commitment to the youth of the Whau resulted in an exhibition that went off flawlessly.
Zach Mckenzie: Team Lifter Award
Zach is an incredibly talented basketball player who is determined to keep improving in everything he does. He has shown his dedication and passion for the sport by volunteering to assist basketball coaches on our holiday programmes and spending any other free time to training. Youth respect him and are able to relate to him easily. Zach's level of skill and dedication is a goal for our youth to either reach or surpass.
Emily O’Callaghan: Hauora Award
Emily is an exceptional young woman. She has a passion for advocacy and is a leader at Avondale College. She petitioned for a Mental Health Week, organising all of the events, information posters, stands, performances, almost single-handedly. She regularly advocates for students who do not have a confident voice in the school and community, growing their confidence through the process.
Vei Vea’s memorial award
Tayla Nasmith: Heart of service
Tayla is an incredible young person through and through. She is kind, thoughtful and giving.
She is receiving the Vei Vea Memorial award because of the heart that she gives to the community…
In 2012 Tayla created the wonderful charity Mummy’s In Need to help babies and mothers in the west Auckland area to get resources like food, nappies, cribs, and car seats that they otherwise cannot afford.
After just a few months Mummy’s In Need took off and became a platform meeting a huge demand and supporting around 50 families per month with 2 part time volunteers.
Years on, Mummy’s in need now works as a support agency for various midwives, social workers and other organisations helping roughly 150-200 babies per month with everything a child under the age of two would need.
Tayla is dedicated to helping others and is now looking to expand her charity to other regions within Aotearoa.