Youth recognised for ‘making a difference’

Cream of the crop. . . Hokonui Runanga Tauira Taiao (Environmental Cadets) Josh Aitken ( left) and Kaloni Taylor accept the Gore District Council Supreme Senior Award on behalf of the group alongside Boston Setefano who received the council’s supreme junior award. PHOTO: ANNE PULLAR

Young people serving their community in different ways won the top awards at the Gore District Youth Awards on Saturday. The Gore District Council Supreme Senior Award was won by the Hokonui Runanga taiao tauira (environmental cadets) and the council’s supreme junior award by Boston Setefano.

Hokonui Runanga kaitiaki taiao tauira programme co-ordinator Abby Evans looks after the wellbeing of the three cadets in the programme.

Since January, the cadets had been working on different environmental projects the runanga was involved with, Ms Evans said.

Initially, six cadets had started the programme but three had left recently to return home to the North Island. The cadets were doing ‘‘outstanding work in pest control in the Hokonui Hills’’.

They were also involved with the work to monitor tuna (eels) and kanakana (lamprey) populations and the quality of the water where they live.

The work the cadets was doing was ‘‘making a difference’’, she said.

‘‘It’s very humbling for them — it’s just what they do but to be recognised for their efforts is massive.

‘‘I’m just thrilled for them.’’ The programme was funded for three years by Land Information New Zealand.

The programme also helped the cadets gain skills including their drivers’ license and first aid qualifications. Next year they would be ready to start tertiary study , she said.

‘‘They’ve all grown in confidence.’’
Boston, of Ngati Porou descent, attends Blue Mountain College.

He was nominated for the award because of the work he had done to raise the profile of kapa haka in the college, Boston said.

‘‘I do quite a lot of teaching my peers kapa haka.’’

When Boston was in year 7, kapa haka was not that visible in the school.

This had changed in the past year due to the work of Tapanui woman whaea Jaki Eales and matua Heemi Hekerangi of Ruatahuna.

They had also mentored him in his search to learn more about his culture and language, he said. He wanted to help his peers change their attitude towards Maori.

‘‘[I am] trying to make Maori a more normal thing.

‘‘I don’t really think that is something I should be rewarded for but, nevertheless, I am grateful that I was nominated. ‘

‘It’s a great honour to receive an award like that.’’

The awards evening was organised by the Gore District Youth Council.

Television presenter Haydn Jones, formerly of Gore, was the compere for the evening.

Youth council chairwoman Olivia Crawford said she was pleased with the way the event ran.

‘‘I thought it was a very well put together evening. ‘

‘Overall it was just fabulous.’’ Mr Jones ‘‘made the night’’, Miss Crawford said.

She had received very good feedback about the event.

‘‘It made us as youth councillors feel like we have succeeded in what we were trying to achieve.’’