Youth Awards aim to honour district’s young people

Preparations for the annual Matamata-Piako Youth Awards are under way and nominations are now open. 

The Matamata-Piako Youth Awards have been organised by the district Volunteer Youth Ambassadors (VYA) annually for the past three years. They aim to promote the good work of youth in the district.

Nominees can be between the ages of 12-24 (as of 5 July 2019) and nominations are now open until 14 June 2019.

There are seven awards this year with the winners being chosen by a diverse judging panel. Categories include Employee award, Fonterra Environmental award, Music/Arts award, The Boltholder Entrepreneur award, O-Del-Emz Overcoming Adversity award and the Ngati Haua Iwi Trust Cultural Contribution award.

“I always look forward to this event,” says Mayor Jan Barnes. “Not only because it’s a youth organised event, to celebrate youth, but because it shines a light on the future generation – showcasing just how hard our young people are working in our community. It really is a celebration.”

New this year to the award line up is the Mayoral Wild Card award. The winner of the Wild Card award is chosen from among every nominee. The winner will receive two tickets to the Festival for the Future in Wellington, including two return airfares.

Attending the festival will give the winner the opportunity to hear from inspiring speakers, attend workshops, network and share ideas with youth influencers in areas such as business, education and government, as well as people who are prominent members of their communities.

The Wild Card award is an addition VYA Chair Ruby Stevens is excited to see included the event. She says what the judges will be looking for is not someone who already excels, but someone who shows great leadership potential and would benefit from mentoring.      

“This is such an amazing opportunity, a real door opener and I have no doubt the recipient will come away feeling incredibly empowered,” she said.   

Another highlight of the awards evening is guest speaker Brad Smeele. Brad won two world titles in wakeboarding and was the first (documented) person to land a 180 in regular stance in the world. In 2014 Brad took a heavy crash attempting to land his second double tantrum, also known as a backflip. The crash broke Brad’s neck leaving him a quadriplegic.

Brad is now a motivational speaker at schools, as well as charity and corporate events, inspiring people of all ages through his story of resilience and how he found happiness after his life changing injury.

He is also passionate about raising awareness and funding for spinal cord injury research and helping others facing similar life changing circumstances.

You can nominate an exceptional youth online at or pick up a hard copy from any Council Office in the district.

The Matamata-Piako Volunteer Youth Ambassadors (VYA) are a group of 12 young people from Te Aroha, Morrinsville and Matamata colleges who speak for youth at the district Council table.


VYA with Mike

Caption: The 2018 Volunteer Youth Ambassadors with last years Youth Awards guest speaker Mike King.