An impassioned speech calling for a more inclusive society has helped a Kerikeri teen win this year's Northland Young Ambassadors Competition.
The six finalists in the contest had been nominated by their schools or community groups and made it through an earlier selection process.
They were then scored on the basis of a CV listing their achievements and community involvement, an interview with a judging panel, and finally a five-minute speech to an audience of more than 100 at Ōkaihau Community Hall on Wednesday night.
The event was organised by Ōkaihau Lions with support from other Lions clubs around the Mid North.
Hannah Watson, 17, emerged the winner after a speech in which she imagined what textbooks in 100 years' time would say about today's society. She also spoke of the need to combat casual racism and create a more unified, inclusive society.
The Kerikeri High student said she was surprised to win given the calibre of the other finalists.
''I was taken aback by how amazing they all are, and what they've done and achieved. Even going up against them was an honour.''
Hannah said she would put the $1000 prize money from sponsor Top Energy towards volunteer work overseas or her plans to pursue museum and Māori studies at Victoria University in Wellington.
Her aim was to became a museum curator and her ultimate dream was to work in a museum overseas promoting New Zealand and Māori history to the world.
All this year's finalists were young women ranging in age from 15-18, with all but two nominated by Kerikeri High School.
Second place went to Kerikeri's Katey Whitehead, 17, who used an egg as a metaphor for youth and their needs.
Third place was won by Leah Dawson, 17, of Waipapa, who spoke about learning resilience from setbacks in her sporting life.
The other finalists were Shiquille Duval, 18, of Taipa Area School; Charmaine Sheffield, 17, representing Kerikeri and Kawakawa St John; and Emilie Jones, 15, of Waipapa.
Shiquille spoke of the damage done by methamphetamine in her community and even within her own whānau; Charmaine talked about living in the moment and gave a lesson in CPR; and Emilie revealed the ''shocking truth'' about prenatal ultrasound scans.
Guests at the contest included Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones, Northland MP Matt King and Mayor John Carter.
The competition aims to identify future leaders and is open to 15-19 year olds around the Far North.