Eleven representatives of Shine on Kaitaia were amongst those described by Minister for Youth Peeni Henare as inspirational rangatahi at a function at Parliament last week.
They were there to receive a 2018 Youth Award, in the Working for Youth category, the citation noting that the organisation had overcome rural barriers to built community spirit through youth-run events including a Children's Day, Far North's Got Talent and Christmas in the Park.
"It's my privilege to celebrate these inspirational rangatahi, who are leading initiatives and supporting their communities in areas such as the arts, culture, education, business and the environment," Mr Henare said.
A Working for Youth award also went to Urutapu, a group of young wahine who organise community-building events for young people within their hapori, hapu or whanau, including The Otiria Great Race (to help rangatahi connect with their whakapapa) and Drive It (to reduce young Maori fatalities within Te Tai Tokerau).
Supreme awards were presented to Injy Johnstone (Wellington, senior), an environmental, foster children and disability advocate, and New Zealand representative on two United Nations groups, and Ranisha Chand (Auckland, junior), a Shakti Youth ambassador and campaigner who was striving to break intergenerational cycles of family violence in migrant and refugee families.
Mr Henare said the award winners would inspire and encourage other young people to get involved and make a difference. He also recognised all who had been nominated.
"It's demonstrated to me that Aotearoa New Zealand is in good hands for the future," he said.
"Our country is full of committed, creative, talented young people who are leading change and developing innovative solutions."
Ms Johnstone said the awards recognised the hours, commitment and perseverance that went into affecting positive change.
"For me personally, this award recognises the strength of diversity and inclusivity in leadership, particularly for youth with access needs and that come from disadvantaged backgrounds," she said.
Ms Chand said her award assured her that she was making a positive change in the community through her passion for feminism and social justice for migrant women and young people.
"I believe that when I speak it's not just me talking, but I am representative of other young people who are yet to gain the confidence to voice their opinions," she said.