Youth Week 2014 Award Recipients Announced

20 May 2014

Today the Minister of Youth Affairs, Hon Nikki Kaye, announced the 24 recipients of a Youth Week 2014 Award.


Over 100 nominations were received for this Award. All nominees have demonstrated an outstanding commitment to their community and have been involved in a huge number of exciting and innovative activities to address their community's needs.

We would like to to congratulate all Youth Week 2014 Award nominees for their achievements.

The Award Recipients

Award recipients were decided by young people themselves. Three members of the Ministry of Youth Development's Youth Advisory Group made up the selection panel which recommended the Award recipients.

Award recipients come from diverse parts of New Zealand and have diverse backgrounds.

The Award recipients are below in the categories for which they recieved an Award.

Change Maker

A Change Maker Award is awarded to a young person who through embracing diversity has created change in their community.

Lani Alo, 20, Auckland

Iani Alo

Lani has made a huge impact in the area of performing arts and youth mentoring. He is currently working on Project K (an arts programme) as a team leader, where he is in charge of developing a resource that creates a series of narratives.

Lani has also been involved in New Zealand and Australia with the White Ribbon campaign and the Dunedin Fringe Festival.


Arianna Cudby, 15, Rotorua

Arianna Cudby

Arianna co-wrote a song in Te Reo Maori about losing her cousin to suicide in 2011. The song provided key messages about the pain she and her whanau experienced.

This year Arianna was invited to tour with Mike King, as a duet, to sing this song and talk about her experiences.



Taylor Finderup, 14, Kāpiti

Taylor Finderup

Taylor is a volunteer for a number of organisations, including Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) , Save Animals From Exploitation (SAFE) and Helping You Help Animals (HUHA). She dedicates her life outside of school to animal rights. Her biggest focus though is the marine environment.

She has presented over 78,000 signatures to MP’s at Parliament to stop shark finning. She has rallied her community and other young people to get behind this cause.



Serena Lal, 21, Auckland

Serena Lal

Serena has been involved in a number of organisations. She is the Event Manager at St John, Uniguide Leader and Equity Officer at Auckland  University, Companion at Camp Quality, and works with the P3 Foundation.

Serena’s passion is in development and ethical actions which is demonstrated through her work with the Global Poverty Project.



Wei Cheng Phee, 20, Hamilton

Wei Cheng Phee

Wei Cheng has been part of a number of projects during his time with Enactus.

Enactus aims to improve the quality of life of people through entrepreneurial actions taken by students at university.





Nakita Turner, 15, Christchurch

Nakita Turner

Nakita overcame bullying during her first public performance. From this experience she vowed never to perform again. Now Nakita is a successful songwriter and performer.

Her song ‘One Voice’ is a YouTube sensation with over 50,000 views. This song, alongside the website has inspired and encouraged others to talk about bullying in New Zealand.



Giving back

The Giving Back Award is awarded to a young person whose actions address a current need and have had a significant impact on their community.

Ronan Fitch, 13, Matamata

Ronan Fitch

Ronan volunteered to be one of the main speakers at the Matamata ANZAC Day service. He was then asked to be part of the next ANZAC Day service in the next town over and he agreed.

Ronan is active in many parts of the Matamata community but not necessarily through organised groups, often doing small things regularly, like helping out younger people in the library.


Nicholas Humphries, 17, Te Anau

Nicholas Humphries

Nicholas has been involved with The Kids Restore the Kepler (KRTK) project since its conception, working on the organising committee to get the project off the ground.

Nicholas is on the leadership team, as well as working with other students to teach them the vital skills they need to help with the pest issue.

Nicholas is also involved with The Save Fiordland campaign, by being very active on social media.


Grady Murphy, 16, Hutt Valley

Grady Murphy

Grady is a leader of the Timberlea Youth Programme for the last two years. He has given many hours to help run events in the local community.

Grady gave up the chance to go on a school trip so he could stay and help organise events in the town. He thought it would be wrong for him to get to go away, when others do not have the same opportunities.


Cameron Russell, 19, Christchurch

Cameron Russell

Cameron started volunteering for the Familial Trust Children's Group when he was 15. This is a group for young children who experience difficult family circumstances with addiction issues.

Cameron has used his past family experiences to help other young people. He teaches these young children how to make positive decisions at school and at home.


Eve Siania, 15, Porirua

Eve Pania Siania.

Eve has been a leader in her local bakers club since she started high school. This club allows different schools to come together once a week to learn how to read and work with others.

She teaches young people how to be safe in the kitchen, food hygiene and how to eat healthy.

Eve is also involved in the local rugby team, runs the ’Its cool to stay in school’ and other community events.


Chrislynn Soong, 24, Christchurch

Chrislynn Soong

Chrislynn started the Christchurch Baking Army, after the 2011 earthquakes. This was so she and others who did not have the physical capabilities for more phyiscal work could still help during the clean up. The Army managed to bake over 15,000 items.

The Baking Army is still strong, working throughout the community and recently reactivated during the Christchurch floods.





The Leadership Award is awarded to a young person who has demonstrated their leadership in a project or organisation.

Alice Craig, 17, Matamata

Alice Craig

Alice is a ranger with Girl Guides and is working towards her Queen Guide Award, which involves completing a leadership certificate. Alice commits to weekly sessions, helps lead the unit and engages with the younger girls as a role model.

Alice is also involved in the broader community with Cancer Week, works with the Returned Services Association and was involved in ANZAC Day preparations.


Joe Gatland, 21, Auckland

Joe Gatland

Joe is heavily involved with Rainbow Youth. He is currently undertaking the roles of Treasurer, Chair, Vice-Chair and Secretary due to temporary issues outside of his control.

Joe has worked above and beyond what a person would be expected to do, to ensure that Rainbow Youth has the structure and means to serve the community. He is always willing to help the organisation wherever possible.


Aaron Hape, 22, Wellington

Aaron Hape

Aaron has been involved with Commonwealth Youth New Zealand (CYNZ) since his last year of high school. In 2013 he spearheaded a major restructure of the governance and workings of CYNZ.

CYNZ is a youth-run and led organisation that helps young New Zealanders interact and influence senior Commonwealth leaders.


Gibson Harris, 21, Auckland

Gibson Harris

Gibson has been involved in a number of youth and community initiatives. These include; the Prime Minister’s Youth Programme, the Vodafone World of Difference Programme, Phoenix Preforming Arts, the White Ribbon Campaign and more.

Gibson has made huge contributions in each of the above programmes and is viewed by his peers as a positive role model.


Brad Olsen, 17, Whangarei

Brad Olsen

Brad has been a founding member of Whangarei District Council’s Youth Advisory Group and is the current Chairman. Brad is a motivator and a prime member within the Youth Advisory Group and has contributed to major Whangarei initiatives.

Brad’s local civic engagement has not been restricted to the Youth Advisory Group, he is involved in many youth organisations throughout Whangarei.


Tess Vandenburg, 20, Auckland

Tee Vanderburg

Tess saw the lack of options given to Lesbian Gay Bisexual Transgender and Intersex (LGBTI) youth who wished to meet others of their  community. Because of this Tess established Breaking Boundaries, an online forum for LGBTI youth and allies to find support and friendship in a safe online environment.

As the creator and leader, Tess runs the small team of volunteers as well as advertising and spreading awareness of the forum.


Working for Youth

The Working for Youth Award is awarded to a young person whose actions specifically support other young people, this may include sport, cultural or arts activities.

Michelle Atkinson, 24, Auckland

Michelle Atkinson

Michelle is a leader and advocate for youth mental health. She draws on her own experience of mental distress to improve the experiences of others.

She is part of a youth led, and youth run, mental health development group called Affinity Services. 

Tane Bennett, 22, Tauranga

Tane Bennett

Tane gives up his time to coach and mentor young basketball players.

He is a voluntary coach at Tauranga Girls’ College and volunteers with Tauranga City Basketball as a representative coach.

He was also an ACC Ambassador with their Summer without Substance programme.



Vinnie Bennett, 21, Auckland

Vinnie Bennett

Vinnie is a young theatre practitioner who has worked with Nga Rangatahi Toa.

He has developed an interactive communication and arts based program to underpin the rangatahi personal development that goes into a creative wide art project.



Jade Leung, 20, Auckland

Jade Leung

Jade is the current CEO of the P3 Foundation. She is also a National Director of P3 which sees her lead the executive team in the operational groundwork through long term visioning, strategic planning and goal setting.

This group aims to end educational inequality by creating highly motivated, well rounded and diverse youth who support other students.


Victor Li, 23, Auckland

Victor Li

Victor has been involved in a number of community based projects.

His biggest impact has been in the New Zealand Environmental Entrepreneurship Competition. Victor created this competition with the Auckland Council and AUT Business School.

He also tutors young students, works with local primary schools and with local chess clubs.


Abbey Luff, 18, South Taranaki

Abbey Luff

Abbey is always busy organising something for the young people in the community of Waverley to do. She has coordinated many different events including “Waverley’s Got Talent”, Netball competitions and a Triathlon.

Abbey also volunteers at Waverley Primary School and the Waverley Swimming Club.