Shannon resident Jessica Rose Collins is a finalist for the Te Whetū award for young achievers at this year's Ngā Whetū o Matariki Awards.

Collins is currently in the running for the Te Whetū Maiangi Award for young achievers, for her demonstration to improve herself and her community, as well as contributing to a better future for our nation.

In 2019, the 23-year-old was presented with the Prime Minister's Exemplar award for her dedication to Māori mental health and suicide prevention.

The Massey University Māori Visual Arts graduate spent her 21st birthday creating and leading the Mana Whenua Hīkoi, walking 668km for the 668 people in New Zealand who committed suicide in 2017.


From this, Collins aided in raising $2500 for Lifeline since they had lost their governmental funding for crisis support and suicide prevention.

During the walk, she planted 100 kawakawa seeds around wherever she felt blessed to do so, with her traditional ko.

Last year collins had an art exhibition she called Resilience based on the hīkoi, with Project K alumni Symphony Rimaha.

Project K is a programme run over 14 months to help youth from Year 10 onwards build confidence and life skills.

In 2012, Collins was chosen to participate in the life-changing programme while at Otumoetai College.

This follows her own struggles with mental health when she first tried to take her life at just 13 years old.

After a touching acceptance speech at the Graeme Dingle Foundation Excellence Awards in 2017 when presented with the Sir Edmund Hillary Youth Achievement Award, Collins received a standing ovation.

"Like too many children in Aotearoa, I grew up in survival mode, just trying to make it through each day," she said.


The Matariki Awards will be broadcast live, 8.30pm, August 15, on Māori Television and on the Facebook livestream.