Awanui teenager Tipuarangi Kohatu McDowell was awarded the top accolade, the Peer Choice award, after a five-day Blue Light leadership course at Wairakei, outside Taupo, earlier this month.

The 15-year-old from the Far North beat a strong group of young people from around the North Island, Blue Light programmes co-ordinator Oliver Lee saying he was a worthy winner.

"Tipuarangi was chosen by his peers for being an overall great team member, helpful, encouraging, kind and excelling in all ways, always respectful to staff and fellow course members, and ultimately the person you would love to have in your team," Mr Lee said.

The residential programme is run by New Zealand Blue Light in partnership with the police and NZ Defence Force, giving 14- to 17-year-olds quality life skills focusing on leadership and training, specialising in building self-respect, respect for others, working within boundaries, self-care, team work and problem-solving.


Blue Light, which says it has a strong vision of empowering youth, designs its courses to reduce the potential for young people to become offenders or victims of crime, and to encourage better relations between young people, their parents, the police and their communities.

It is an incorporated society that operates nationwide, each of the 74 branches (including Kaitaia) being responsible for sourcing their own funding to facilitate and provide their own youth community programmes.

It is independent of the police, and receives no funding from the department, but is supported by police officers, who carry out Blue Light activities over and above their normal police duties, along with civilian volunteers.

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