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Accolades for rangatahi volunteers honoured at annual awards night ceremony

GISBORNE’S annual Youth Volunteer Awards celebrated the work of 29 rangatahi and their contribution to voluntary organisations.

Young volunteers from Hospice Tairawhiti, St John Ambulance, SPCA Gisborne, the Salvation Army and Evolution Theatre were among the recipients at the awards ceremony held at Waikanae Surf Life Saving Club.

The awards were presented by Sam Johnson, founder of the Student Army set up to help people after the 2011 earthquake in Christchurch

“There’s plenty of enthusiasm to make a difference through volunteering in Gisborne,” he said.

“Gisborne can be proud of how much volunteering rangatahi do already and with greater support that will only improve.”

Award recipient Rochea Moeke said it was an honour to be nominated by the SPCA and her Matapuna Training Centre tutor Zella Preston.

Rochea and centre classmates aged from 16 to 19 volunteer once a week at the SPCA — mucking out the animal enclosures, restocking essentials like food, water and litter trays and comforting newborn, sick and abused animals.

Ms Preston said being able to work with animals was a beautiful way of connecting with the community and building resilience for youth.

Gisborne deputy mayor Rehette Stoltz said it was a heartwarming event.

“So often we hear people complaining that youth are lazy and self-centred. I can assure you that what I saw at the awards evening proved such a statement is so wrong.

“The youth were humble, hard-working and focused on making a difference in the community.

“With these community-minded and hard-working kids, it gives me great hope for a bright Tairawhiti future,” Mrs Stoltz said.

Gisborne Volunteer Centre manager Jenny Greaves said the awards had been running for more than 10 years and recognised the work of more than 200 young people in the region.

“Youth are contributing in a diverse range of activities, either as individuals or as part of a team. Each one is making a difference in their own right,” she said.

YOUTH AWARD 2019 RECIPIENTS: Youth volunteers celebrated at the awards night last week included Haylee Law, Michaela Miller, Poppy Smith, Kya Hurihanganui Thornicroft, Nathan Proctor, Luke Hurlstone, Ella McBreen, Pearl Ruston, Harriet Savage, Dana Stoltenberg, Niamh Stratton, Te Whetu Tibble, Margaret Nicholson, Zach Hawley, Elisa Barbier, Mathew Hatten, Jace Chisholm, Mikayla Hosking, Nikita Schwass, Tanay Goldsbury, Ben Briant, Lopeti Koka, Te Whetu Kerekere, Rochea Moeke, Cole Wallace, Georgia Fox, Katelyn Deere, Caitlin Kingsford, Ibanez Tanya Lewis. Picture supplied