Finalists have been chosen for the inaugural Waikato District Youth Awards from 52 nominations.
The roll call of the young people making a contribution to their communities makes for inspiring reading.
The awards, in five categories for young Waikato dwellers aged between 12 and 24 years, will be announced at an event on Friday, May 27.
Category Sass/Swag: Young people who have made an outstanding contribution to their community in arts, culture, music, dance or performance.
Daniel Calder, Huntly, volunteers his time to Huntly West School. He helped with the end-of-year concert supporting young people with vocal work and coping mechanisms for appearing on stage.
Pania Tata, Te Kauwhata, is a Year 12 student at Te Kauwhata College. She has made a name for herself on stage as a lead vocalist and often does harmonies for other groups.
Wednesday Gilbert, Ngaruawahia, published her first book at the young age of 21. She has spoken on behalf of youth at the Ngaruawahia Community Board and hopes to inspire other young people in the community.
Kaleshaa and Casey Messant, Huntly, aka Situation Vacant, are a brother and sister duo who have won both the Smokefree National Battle of the Bands and Talent Quest Huntly.
Tia Maipi, Huntly, has made a name for himself in the dancing community. He was successful in his bid to become part of The Palace Royal Family with Paris Goebel, winning back to back gold medals in Las Vegas in 2012-2014.
Category Like a Boss: Young people who have demonstrated great leadership in projects that have improved their community.
Sharnay Cocup, Taupiri, formed the first youth group in the Taupiri community just over two years ago. She also organised the community planting day that involved 60 youth and their families planting 250 native trees. Another big achievement was her involvement in encouraging youth to reconstruct the Taupiri Mountain Bush Walk trail.
Harty Sistaz, a group from Huntly, is set up to support young females aged from 12-18 in the Huntly community. The objective is to help young females make positive decisions that create pathways to improve other aspects of their physical, social and emotional wellbeing.
Elliot Baptist, Whatawhata, currently studying electrical engineering at Waikato University, has been nominated for his contribution to the Bush Tramway Club. Elliot volunteers his time in keeping the trains running, being club chairman and newsletter editor.
Mikayla Dickinson, Huntly, is a 15-year-old from Huntly College who volunteers her time to Huntly Kids Kitchen and Girl Guiding Huntly. Mikayla is also a student leader for Students against Drink Driving.
Phoebe Comins, Huntly, will be representing Huntly College and the wider community at the Outrigger World Sprints this month. She is a 2016 student help at Huntly College and she also volunteers as coach for the “Midget” Waka Ama team.
Category Champion of the Earth: Young people who have contributed to environmental projects in their community to improve protection, restoration, conservation and/or sustainability.
Taupiri Youth Group, Taupiri, is made up of more than 20 young people who have been reconstructing the public bush walkway known as Taupiri Mountain. They have built stairs, hand rails and planted many native trees. This group also started the initiative for the memorial garden dedicated to the late Bob Sommerville.
Ellis Pike, Te Kauwhata, volunteers with the Te Kauwhata Fire Brigade. At school he is part of the service committee that raised $7000 for Kids Can and also organised the Shave for a Cure.
Khan Watkins, Taupiri, is heavily involved in the Taupiri Mountain project, volunteering his time to help plant native plants and teaching and encouraging others. He also helped out with the memorial garden dedicated to the late Bob Somerville.
Category Helping Hand: Young people who volunteer in order to improve their community.
Ruby Maskell, Ngaruawahia, is 12-years-old and attends Sacred Heart College, Hamilton. She volunteers in the Ngaruawahia and Huntly communities, in particular, working with the local libraries.
Whetukura Huirama, Ngaruawahia, provides St John support as a first aider at key events in the community, holiday programmes and regular sports events at Hopuhopu.
Antonia van den Bemd, Ngaruawahia, participates in and leads the St John Youth groups in both the Ngaruawahia and Huntly divisions. She was the North Waikato Cadet of the Year.
Lashon Semau, Tuakau, volunteers at the Tuakau Youth Centre, and at Tuakau Primary School every Tuesday and Thursday, helping set up the children’s breakfast.
Category Kia Kaha: Young people who have contributed in meaningful ways to their community not otherwise recognised in the other categories.
Rex Shane Edwards, Port Waikato, has trained a number of locals to become skilled members of rescue boat crews. His efforts have been recognised by the Northern Region of the Surf Lifesaving Association.
Georgia Reynell, Ngaruawahia, is a member of St John Youth and uses her first aid qualifications to support local events like the Huntly Christmas Parade. She also volunteers at the Karakariki Christian Camp leading team building and character building activities.
Mercer Under 15 Rowing Team, Mercer, has shown incredible perseverance and commitment to their team, club and school. The team has competed at 13 regattas and at the NZ Secondary Schools competition in March they were the 14th fastest overall from more than 50 schools.
Samuel Haehae, Ngaruawahia, is a 15-year-old who has represented at regional level for rugby, rugby league and softball. This year he also made the NZ under-15 softball team and represented Ngaruawahia High School in Waka Ama.
Robert Graham, Onewhero, 17-years-old, is a Year 12 sports leader at Onewhero Area School, a member of the Sunset Beach Surf Lifesaving Club at Port Waikato and coach of the Onewhero Area School Basketball Team.
Ashlee Dunsmuir, Huntly, is involved with the Huntly Aquatic Centre Kids Triathlon, a committee member of the Huntly Thistle, and a high academic achiever.
Yes, we have no nominations
Council youth engagement advisor Shannon Kelly said no nominations were received from Tamahere.
“I think there are some fantastic young people doing amazing work in Tamahere and I would have really loved to showcase that talent at the awards this year,” she said.
Kelly hoped that Tamahere young people would be nominated for future awards.
The awards are made possible courtesy of funding the Waikato District Council has received from the Ministry for Youth Development.