Inspirational youths celebrated at Parliament

Youth who have been flying under the radar with making a difference in the local community have been recognised at the New Zealand Youth Awards.

The Tuakau Youth Centre leaders and Luka Wolfgram of Ararimu were acknowledge in their respected categories at Parliament on Tuesday 4 April in the national award ceremony.

Both the Tuakau Youth leaders and 13 year old Luka, made the trip south for the awards.

It was their first time on a plane for several of the leaders, and their first trip to Wellington. Thanks to generous donations from the local community, the whole group were able to attend the awards.

The youth awards are aimed at recognising and acknowledging the diverse contributions young New Zealanders make to society, with ten awards across eight categories. These categories celebrate qualities such as leadership, giving back, being a change maker and young people who have supported youth activities in their areas.

Lindsay Tisch, National MP for Waikato, was impressed by achievements of the Tuakau leaders, who help mentor the youth and run the Tuakau Youth Centre.

“I am delighted to announce that the Tuakau Youth Centre is an award recipient in the Youth Group Category. They have demonstrated exceptional drive, skills, compassion and integrity. This is a remarkable achievement, of which I am very proud.”

While they weren’t able to make a speech, the leaders Lashon Semau, Venus Thompson-Marshall, Rihi Harvey-Cooper, Tau Koopu, Jamie Whitney, Shayla Ngere-Matchitt and Erik Stenklev-Gussey, performed an impromptu haka, which was very well received.

Supported by his family, Luka was recognised with a Youth Champion Award for showing strength beyond his years to help raise awareness for child cancer.

In honour of his little brother, Kosta, the then 12 year was inspired to share his personal story about grief, loss, childhood cancer and a message of hope to try and find a cure.

His short film, Our Superheroes, was the supreme winner at the Outlook for Someday Sustainability Film Challenge last year.

“Luka has demonstrated exceptional maturity, courage and compassion drawn from a personal family tragedy. This is a remarkable achievement and I was proud to see him receive his award at Parliament,” said MP for Hunua, Andrew Bayly. “Luka is an outstanding 13 year old, who based the film on his own personal experience of losing a brother to illness. He also engages with other families facing the same difficult challenge of losing a loved one, as well as with teachers and doctors, while encouraging people to support the search for and the treatment of cancer.”

Both MPs agree that the Tuakau leaders and Luka Wolfgram, have shown enormous talent and potential, and have bright futures ahead of them.