In the past week there have been two very public faces of young people.

One shows us that dishonesty and thievery bubble just under the surface of all strata and ages of society, and the other shows youngsters who have so much generosity and community spirit we adults could learn from them.

Let's deal with the bottom dwellers first.

They are four young men from Northland who went on a Viking-like campaign raiding coastal properties from which they stole boats, fishing gear, outboard motors and tools worth nearly $80,000.


You will already have a picture in your minds of what they look like - and where they come from - and you would be quite wrong.

These criminals - convicted over the past week - were from good homes, with caring families and none were addicted to any drug.

Other than the adrenalin that surged when they committed their crimes.

They carried out their raids for the fun of it.

They didn't think about the fear or hurt they caused their victims or, in fact, the embarrassment they caused their families.

The Northland judge who was passing sentence on the young men told them they should consider themselves "extraordinarily lucky" because if it was not for the combination of support from their families and lawyers they would all be going to jail.

The fact they were not sent to the slammer and were only given up to 10 months' home detention and 300 hours of community work outraged Northlanders who stated if it had been young Maori in the dock they would have been thrown behind bars.

It goes to show that too many young people do not consider the consequences of youthful stupidity mixed with a feeling of immortality.

And yet, down the other end of the country, thousands of young people are restoring faith in their generation through their actions.

They are members of the Student Volunteer Army at the University of Canterbury and they use much of their spare time doing good in their community. Every weekend the army responds to calls for assistance from residents.

They mobilise and engage in anything from helping to clean-up properties, removing rubbish from waterways and planting trees.

Recently about 200 volunteers turned out in Woolston to spruce up the area in the biggest effort since the clean up of liquefaction following the Christchurch quakes.

During those terrible times the student army did fantastic work in trying to restore wrecked suburbs to a liveable condition.

They won praise around the country for their deeds and the SVA has become the largest student club at Canterbury uni with more than 2000 members.

We need to bottle whatever they are drinking and deliver it to young people around the country, possibly the world.

It would make the planet a better place to live.

My favourite TV show of the moment - indeed for the past six years - has been Game of Thrones.

It is a Machiavellian nightmare for the characters where just about every favourite is killed off with little mercy.

The sixth season has just started and the entire past year has overwhelmed the interweb and social media with speculation on whether or not the hero of the show, Jon Snow, Lord Commander of the Night's Watch, is alive or not.

His character has led to the phrase "You know nothing Jon Snow" entering folklore and for female watchers his dark locks and good looks were something else to look forward to every week.

That is until the final episode of the last series when traitors sank knives into him too many times for survival and the year's viewing ended with him bleeding profusely into the white snow.

The actor who plays Jon Snow, Kit Harrington , was sworn to secrecy about his character's fate.

Anyway, between seasons Harrington was driving home from his folks' house and he was pulled over by police for speeding. The copper walked over to his car, saw who it was and said:

"Look, there's two ways we can do this: You can either follow me back to the police station now and I book you in, or you can tell me whether you live in the next season."

Harrington said: "I looked at him and went, 'I'm alive next season.' And he says, 'On your way, Lord Commander." You gotta love it. But "Winter is Coming."