Seeking a faith-in-humanity boost? Look no further. Last Thursday, Environment Canterbury hosted the presentation of our biennial Youth Leadership Awards at Tuam Street, with the Council Chamber full of inspiring young leaders.
In partnership with Ngāi Tahu, these awards celebrate both individual and group activities among rakatahi (young people) that contribute to a more sustainable future.
This year's judging panel featured Donelle Manihera and Andre Konia of Ngāi Tahu, as well as our own Jayden Elley.
Jayden says it was a tough gig judging this year.
"It was hard to decide on the winners. There are some great future leaders in the making here - they all deserve recognition for the wide range of sustainable activities they're involved in," he said.
"We were looking for great leadership, innovation, creativity, and projects that foster kaitiakitanga."
The applicants wowed the audience at the award presentation with speeches detailing their sustainable activities.
Social justice and sustaining people through education
Individual category winner, Tim Marshall of St Thomas of Canterbury College, reminded the audience that sustainability isn't just about the environment – it's also about social justice and sustaining people through education.
As part of the Young Enterprise Scheme, Tim spent time in low-decile primary schools and became aware of the lack of access to computers. He also observed that many of the kids were migrants, mainly Pasifika, and struggled speaking English.
Tim led a team of students who encouraged local businesses to donate their old PCs. They removed the old operating systems and added George, an operating system which they designed themselves! George is written in both Samoan and te reo Māori.
Tim Marshall, Year 13 St Thomas of Canterbury College student and individual category winner is awarded his prize by Ngāi Tahu representative Dallas Seymour
Campaign reduces school's energy consumption
The group category winner, Cashmere High School's Sustainability Council, were involved in a number of projects.
Most impressive was their Switch it off campaign that aimed to reduce the school's energy consumption by 30 percent, and involved project managing the installation of 100 solar panels at their school.
The panels were funded by their international Zayed Future Energy Prize, which saw students Nola Smart and Lily Williams travel to Abu Dhabi for global Sustainability Week earlier this year.
The group have also been working alongside Shelley Washington to restore Cashmere Stream, as well as an electric car project through Enviroschools.
Anzac Gallate and Lily Williams, Year 11 students from Cashmere High School's
Sustainability Council accept their prize from Tom Lambie
Celebrating young people making a difference
Facilitator Jocelyn Papprill says the awards are a great opportunity to acknowledge the amazing work that rakatahi are doing in the area of sustainability.
"We're proud to partner with Ngāi Tahu to celebrate young people making a really positive difference. Working with these incredible young people is a real privilege."
Tom Lambie was blown away by the applicants. He addressed the finalists on behalf of Dame Margaret and Bill.
"You're inspirational; you're quite amazing! Your exceptional leadership and communication skills put you in good stead to lead us into the future. Please carry this forward into your adult lives, and do all you can to bring others on the sustainability journey with you."
All the finalists outside Tuam Street with Dallas Seymour and Tom Lambie
These awards are just one way our Youth Engagement team facilitates sustainable development in the Canterbury region.
Keep up with all the awesome work they do on Facebook.