Whangarei youth leader Brad Olsen has been honoured for his work progressing youth issues in the district with a Youth Week 2014 Award.

Brad, aged 17, was last night presented with a Leadership Award in the inaugural Youth Week Awards at Parliament by Youth Affairs Minister Nikki Kaye.

The Leadership Award is awarded to a young person who has demonstrated their leadership in a project or organisation.

Brad is a founding member of Whangarei District Council's Youth Advisory Group and is the chairman. He is a motivator and a prime member within the Youth Advisory Group and has contributed to major Whangarei initiatives.


His local civic engagement has not been restricted to the Youth Advisory Group, he is involved in many youth organisations throughout Whangarei, the awards citation said. For Brad though the honour is as much for the Youth Advisory Group and its other members as it is for him.

"It's pretty surreal," he told the Northern Advocate from Wellington yesterday, "especially as it's in the Banquet Hall at Parliament."

"But really it's recognition for the whole Youth Advisory Group and the work it does to give Whangarei youth a voice, so it's an award for the whole group really. It's great that these awards have started as there is plenty of recognition out there for outstanding work, but not a lot for youth who are doing good things."

Brad is looking forward to talking to other youth award winners to see if there are effective things they are doing that he can bring back to Whangarei.

Youth Week runs from May 17-May 25 and Ms Kaye said: "It is truly impressive to see the difference and change that these award recipients have brought about in their communities."

"Youth Week is a great opportunity to recognise, support and celebrate the significant contribution and achievements of youth in our communities."

More than 100 nominations were received and 24 received Youth Week Awards.

Another recipient with strong Northland connections was Vinnie Bennett, a 21-year-old from Auckland who is the star of Matanui, the powerful play highlighting the tragedy of youth suicide that has been performed in Northland schools and communities.