Ezekiel Raui is a young man from the Far North who sat right next to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex this week while discussing mental health.

The 21-year-old from Whatuwhiwhi was among a group of young people who had the opportunity to talk about mental health with Prince Harry and Meghan at Maranui Café in Wellington on Monday.

"I think the whole room was nervous," Raui said.

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Northland's Ezekiel Raui off to meet the Queen this week

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"But the Duke and the Duchess have the unique ability to create a comfortable space and I think that is one thing that puts them above most others in terms of their ability to engage, especially with young people."

Ezekiel Raui was seated right next to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex during a meeting the couple had with young people working in the mental health sector. Photo / Mark Mitchell
Ezekiel Raui was seated right next to the Duke and Duchess of Sussex during a meeting the couple had with young people working in the mental health sector. Photo / Mark Mitchell

It was Raui's second time meeting the Duke and Duchess in a matter of months. As a Queen's Young Leaders Award recipient, Raui visited Buckingham Palace in June and met the couple and the Queen.

He received the award for his work around leadership and mental health. Raui created Tu Kotahi, a peer-support programme led by young people which was born on two pieces of paper after comedian and mental health campaigner Mike King spoke at Taipa Area School in 2013, after a cluster of suicides in the town in 2012.

When he met the Duke and Duchess earlier this year he only had a brief conversation with them. This time the couple spent 10 minutes speaking with each group.

"Where we agreed most was understanding that our role, especially those of us in mental health organisations and charities, should be to make ourselves redundant. If we're still needing to do our job that's a notice that we're not quite achieving the goals that we want to," Raui said.

"It was amazing and empowering for me because I felt the importance of cultural identity to one's mental health really came through. That was a topic touched on by the Duke, and especially the Duchess, around the importance of cultural identity in overcoming the barriers of mental health."

Raui, who also met then President Barack Obama in 2015, said having the opportunity to meet so many influential people was "absolutely amazing".

"For me, the beauty of it is the platform that I have been able to engage on and amplify the voices of my peers, and actually voice the issues to influential people.

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"Being able to do that has been humbling and heart warming for me. I see it as a realisation of a dream, not only me, but my peers had when we were still at school."