Outstanding rangatahi celebrated at Impact Awards

By Candice Luke
Tanemahuta and Teakaraupo Pakeha-Heke celebrating with their grandparents.  Photo / Inspiring Stories

By Candice Luke, Te Rito journalism cadet

The Impact Awards, which have a $30,000 prize pool, honour outstanding young New Zealanders who are fighting for Aotearoa's future generations.

Rangatahi from across the nation gathered in Pōneke to celebrate the accomplishments in their areas of local community, enterprise, inclusion, well-being and climate.

Twin brothers, Tanemahuta and Teakaraupo Pakeha-Heke, are 16-year-olds and work for Tūpono Mana Tangata, a whānau-led advocacy group which aspires to stop whānau violence. 

“We learned to do our mahi because we love it, we are passionate about helping this world become violence-free,” Tanemahuta says.

Whānau violence should not be normalised within our tamariki, he says, and he encourages other rangatahi to stand up against it. 

The twins' mother died as a result of extensive family violence.

“Women and children are treasures and they should be treated that way. No more violence in our whānau.” 

Ihorangi Reweti-Peters.  Photo / Inspiring Stories

Ihorangi Reweti-Peters, 16, is an advocate for Tamariki Atawhai's rights for mental health care and counselling. He received the well-being category award, based on his work for youth who are mentally ill.

“I dedicate this award to every young person that faces abuse on a daily basis. Every young person who has lost a loved one to suicide. This is in recognition of everyone who is trying to lead change.”  

Reweti-Peters has experienced an emotional rollercoaster and says the Covid-19 lockdown pushed him to his limits. 

“The mamae and trauma I faced led to that. I didn’t want to be alive anymore. I didn’t want to listen anymore about people trying to help me.”

After thirteen attempts on his life, Reweti-Peters finally got the help he needed. 

He gives thanks to Voices of Hope, his work colleagues, grandparents and foster parents for being part of the “moving puzzle” that has helped him to reach this achievement.

Mariner Fagaiava-Muller.  Photo / Inspiring Stories

Journalist Mariner Fagaiava-Muller is 21, of Samoan and Tongan descent, and a proud South Aucklander. 

He is surprised to have won the inclusivity category and congratulated the "mana wahine" nominees in the category.

“I knew it was a responsibility and an act of tautua (service) that I had to pay towards my people. It’s not just Pacific, it’s not just Māori, it’s all ethnic peoples.”

He says he is inspired to be an adequate representation in the news media, to show diversity in the sector.

Fagaiava-Muller expresses gratitude for the role models who have guided him along the way, particularly the Māori, Pasifika, and Pākehā allies like esteemed journalist John Campbell, who have established a safe environment for rangatahi working in his field.

Guy Ryan, Christian Prescott and twin brothers Tanemahuta and Teakaraupo Pakeha-Heke share the stage with recipients of the Local Award.  Photo / Inspiring Stories 

Christian Prescott, of Tongan descent, is the founder of Sneaker Clean NZ, a charity that creates pathways for rangatahi by providing pre-loved shoes to kids in need. 

“It’s huge to be recognised for something nationally. I’m just a brown boy from South Auckland. I hope rangatahi can draw strength from someone that looks like them, comes from the same streets and lives a similar life. I hope it encourages them to dream bigger, work hard, and understand it can be done.”

He says his mother inspires his dedication to serving his community. 

“She’s taught me everything I know. She’s a nurse, my sister’s a teacher. We’re all in serving jobs being brought up in kaupapa Māori, anga fakatonga, fa’a Samoa.”

Guy Ryan, chief executive of Inspiring Stories, which hosted the awards event, says he is passionate about giving rangatahi the chance to speak and communicate clearly about the topics that concern them.

“I’m a father of two little boys aged two and five, so I’m always thinking about young people and the world that they’re going to inherit.” 

He says the leadership of today's rangatahi is a clear example of how crucial it is to stand up for our communities across the nation.

“Imagine if every young person unleashed their potential into the world, what would it take to make that happen?”

Ryan says Aotearoa needs to support its rangatahi for a brighter future. 

“There has never been a more important time to be investing in our rangatahi. Show them what is possible, support them to build their ideas and skills, to create a better Aotearoa”.