Last week we received the fantastic news that Whangārei Youth Space will receive $880,000 to boost its START programme, through He Poutama Rangatahi. These funds will be delivered over two and a half years, giving our rangatahi even more support with transitioning into the workplace.
This is an excellent outcome for our local youth, their whānau and our extended community. In the past few weeks, I have attended several events celebrating the successes of our young people. In light of this funding announcement, I'd like to take a moment to reflect on these fabulous rangatahi and their achievements.
I was honoured to present Libby Cammell with her Girls Brigade New Zealand Queen's Award, and Luci Winterton with her Duke of Edinburgh Silver Award. The level of determination shown by these teens is inspiring, well done girls, you make us all very proud.
I was also honoured to attend the Conbrio Northland Sports Awards last month, where many of our athletes and sports teams were recognised for their excellence. It always fills me with joy to see Northland stars shining bright – from Madison Doar, youngest member of the New Zealand Black Sticks team, through to the homegrown talents of Pero Cameron and Adam Blair.
It was fantastic to see the Bream Bay swimming team succeeding at the recent national Division II Age Group Championships in Dunedin, bringing home gold, silver and bronze medals along with many personal best times. These young swimmers have really put in the time and practice to make their mark on the national swimming stage – an outstanding effort.
From sports achievements to political and social activities, I have been astonished by the number of our youth who are proudly making their voices heard. Students from Whangārei Girls' High School staged a peaceful march to the council, bringing attention to climate change in government policy.
I love seeing the passion and intelligence in these students, it bodes well for the future that our youth are so engaged on this level. On the academic front, 12-year-old Teru Carrington-Bartlett, from Ōtangarei School, was recently awarded the Carlos Reed Scholarship, earning her five years of boarding at Epsom Girls' Grammar School. This is a massive, life-changing achievement, and my congratulations go out to Teru and her family.
The awful events in Christchurch saw our community finding their own unique ways to show support. Kamo High School students came together to develop a "green ribbon appeal" to raise funds for the stricken families; showing a wonderful spirit of solidarity with our national community.
This is a snapshot of the youth awards, commendations, initiatives and achievements happening every week - far too many for me to list here. I am always in awe of our rangatahi, we should all be so proud of what is being achieved by our young people.
Tē tōia, tē haumatia. Nothing is achieved without a plan and way of doing things.
• Sheryl Mai is Mayor of Whangārei District.