Young achievers rising stars in their fields

By Kimiora Kaire-Melbourne

Te Whetū Maiangi Award for Young Achievers is special recognition of outstanding New Zealanders aged 16 to 30 years who are striving to improve themselves and their communities, demonstrating the potential to contribute to a better future for our nation.

Lower Hutt lad and rising star Julian Dennison was named as a finalist in this category.

He was named on the Hollywood Reporter's list of 15 International Breakout Talents of 2016. The publication says Dennison ‘[stole] the show’ from veteran actor Sam Neill in his performance on Taika Waititi's runaway hit Hunt for the Wilderpeople.

The movie has become New Zealand's most successful film ever, breaking national box office records and becoming the highest grossing Kiwi film in history.

Hunt for the Wilderpeople took out seven categories at the 2017 New Zealand Film Awards including Best Film and Best Actor for Julian.

Shay Wright was also named as a finalist for the Te Whetū Maiangi Award. Wright was named as part of the Forbes 30 Under 30 Asia list in the social entrepreneur category which honours top promising young leaders, daring entrepreneurs and game changers in Asia.

This is a massive nod of acknowledgement for this Kaitaia boy who grew up “grass-roots” and “grounded” with a desire to make a difference – especially for Māori.

The third finalist is Laura O’Connell Rapira. She is a grassroots innovator and the new face of activism in 2016.

As a founding team member and Director of Campaigns at ActionStation, Laura has helped build a digital community of more than 140,000 like-minded members to participate in campaigns designed to drive a fairer, more just and sustainable Aotearoa – New Zealand.

ActionStation’s job is to connect people so that their voice has more impact and power to hold political and corporate interests to account.

This award promotes youth leadership by honouring and encouraging our leaders of tomorrow.

The recipient of this award will be announced tonight at the Matariki Awards, to be held at the Auckland Museum.