A teenager from Wairoa has been marked out for big things, after claiming a new national award aimed at finding the nation's future female leaders.

At the inaugural GirlBoss Awards ceremony in Auckland, on Wednesday night, 17-year-old Rahiri Makuini Edwards-Hammond received the supreme 'Trailblazer Award' for her work developing young Māori leaders.

Rahiri co-founded Project Rangatahi which aims to connect young Māori with internships, mentors and opportunities to help them flourish in their careers.

GirlBoss founder Alexia Hilbertidou said the GirlBoss Awards were about celebrating New Zealand's future female leaders and chief executives, with more than 400 nominations flooded in from around the country.


The winners were focused on growing young Māori leaders, reducing pollution and driving conversations about youth mental health and were from across New Zealand: Auckland, Christchurch, Hawke's Bay, Nelson, Waikato. Each received $1000 with the supreme winner receiving $2000.

"These young women are inspirational as they challenge stereotypes and make a difference in their community. We've loved seeing such a high calibre of entries from Invercargill to Kerikeri, and selecting six winners was very tough."

The awards, run in collaboration with TradeMe, celebrated a generation of phenomenal young women on the 125th anniversary of women's suffrage in New Zealand with six young Kiwi women, aged between 11 and 18, taking out awards.

TradeMe's Moana Roberts said there were some amazing entries but Rahiri's stood out.

"Not only has she been involved in a massive range of events and initiatives, but she's also identified how important it is to connect young Māori with leaders and show them what's possible. Project Rangatahi is a fantastic model - it's humbling and inspiring to see what Rahiri has made happen."

Speaking to Hawke's Bay Today, the Te Kura Kaupapa Maori o Ngati Kahungunu o Te Wairoa Year 13 pupil said she was honoured to receive the award.

"I'm new to working with GirlBoss as an organisation but I have been really honoured to have really good girl-bosses in my life, such as my mother and my grandmother. So, I am really honoured to receive this award, I was just eager to spend time with the other winners - let alone win the supreme award.

Rahiri Makuini Edwards-Hammond. Photo / Supplied.
Rahiri Makuini Edwards-Hammond. Photo / Supplied.

"GirlBoss is doing an amazing job at bringing these girls into the spotlight and I'm extremely prod of the other winners, I definitely think its a space to watch. I definitely think we have a future Prime Minister there.

She co-founded Project Rangatahi with business partner Tahemata Robinson in March, and was now looking at expanding the business nationally.

"The reaction has been extremely positive, which was a real shock to us but we are very grateful for the way people have received it within our community.

"Our goal for the end of the year is to reach 100. At this point we have been working on maintaining about 40 or so rangitahi but we are looking to expand.

"The majority of our young people are either from Hawke's Bay or Wellington but we also have ones in Auckland and Invercargill."

Her initial focus for the future would be to complete her studies and had just applied to study a Masters Degrees on indigenous studies at university.

"I have a few things I am planning on doing but I definitely want to work in human rights and indigenous rights."