A young man who was put into state care as a baby is cycling the length of the North Island to raise money for vulnerable children.
Mana Williams-Eade, 19, will cycle 1100km from Wellington to Kaitaia over seven days starting from Monday.
The Blenheim youth was taken into state care at 8-months-old and fostered by his birth-aunty. She became his adopted mum when he turned 12.
"My experience was very rare. My experience was positive but not indicative of how the care system was," he said.
"I've heard and read a lot of people who've been in state care and do not have those amazing stories of positivity that I do."
Because of this Williams-Eade is passionate about making the state care system better for all children. He has been involved with Voice of the Young and Care Experienced (Voyce) - Whakarongo Mai, an independent body established to support children in the state care system, since last year.
His arduous physical challenge will raise funds for Voyce to put on fun events for youth.
He has three support cars which will follow him on different legs of the journey and generous friends have donated him accommodation along the way. He's been preparing for the challenge by cycling up to 220km a day.
"I should definitely make it, but it'll be hard no matter what."
The Victoria University of Wellington student, who is studying public policy and architecture, believed Voyce offered state care kids consistency and something to rely on. He hoped it would enable them to be leaders.
"And be able to call out adults on areas where they've made decisions that don't correlate to young people in care," he added.
"Young people's voices were not recognised within the previous state care system."
More than 5600 children were in state care, as of March 2017. Around 46,500 children were "identified in reports of concern" and 95,000 had notifications including police family violence referrals.
Voyce was created under the newly formed Ministry for Vulnerable Children, Oranga Tamariki.
Voyce spokesman Brendon Crompton said it was proven many children had suffered in state care, which resulted in negative outcomes like poor achievement at school and being more likely to offend.
"In the past young people haven't been heard," he said. "Issues that were detrimental to young people haven't been dealt with. With this service that should not happen going forward."
Voyce's goals are to act as an advocate for those children, connect and engage kids in care around the country with fun events, equip youth for the future and build leadership. So far hundreds of youths have been involved in co-designing Voyce and connection events.
Regional youth councils are currently being established. Representatives from each of these will then make up a national council. Chief executives have been shortlisted and appointment is imminent, Crompton said.
• Donate via Williams-Eade's Givealittle page here.