A documentary featuring a Kapiti College student's gender transition journey did well in the New Zealand Television Awards, held at Sky City, Auckland.

Born This Way: Awa's Story, which screened on TVNZ 1 earlier this year, followed Awa Puna, 18, an openly transgender youth in her final year at Kapiti College, who is transitioning from male to female.

Mitchell Hawkes was the winner in the best director category for the documentary, which also won best multi camera use, and was a finalist in the New Zealand On Air best documentary award.

Mitchell Hawkes was the winner in the best director category, and the documentary was a finalist in the New Zealand On Air best documentary award.

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"I was over the moon when the doco won best director: documentary or factual," said Awa, who attended the awards with her parents Caroline Beaufort and Clive Puna.

Awa Puna, in orange dress, with proud parents Caroline Beaufort and Clive Puna.
Awa Puna, in orange dress, with proud parents Caroline Beaufort and Clive Puna.

"It was so cool to know that the amazing people who crafted this masterpiece had been recognised for their great work.

"The documentary was created with such delicate love and care and every little thing was considered."

Awa, who has just left Kapiti College and has Toi Whakaari NZ Drama School lined up for next year, said it was nerve-racking getting up on stage when the award was announced, especially as she knew there were many New Zealand celebrities in the audience.

"I ended up just speaking from the heart and it felt so good to tell everyone how I felt about the doco getting an award."

She said her knew that the documentary had "changed some people's negative perspectives on my demographic".

"So it's liberating to be aware of the fact that it's reached so many people not only in New Zealand but around the world."

Caroline was extremely proud of her daughter.

"She is courageous and determined to make a difference.

"She wants to show the world that she is not defined by the transgender label, but by the wonderful, kind, clever and talented person that she is and wants to be recognised as a film maker first and foremost.

"She connects with people comfortably from all walks of life without judgement, which is a lesson for us all.

"We are extremely grateful for the opportunity giving to us by Ruckus Media and all involved to allow her story to be told with respect and dignity.

"We are also grateful to others who bravely spoke out to help other families who may be struggling.

"This includes Awa's siblings, her papa and everyone else who was interviewed to create a top-quality documentary.

"We have been told that this documentary has not only raised awareness, but has saved lives."