Improving access to the Award in New Zealand

Published: 6 Jun 2017

Work to improve access to the Award by those who need it most, is some of the most rewarding and yet most demanding. New Zealand has spearheaded some key work in this area.

In 2013 New Zealand received Special Projects funding to bring the Award to some of the country’s most vulnerable young people. Over the project’s three years, the impact on the Kawerau community has been profound, and its legacy will enable even more at risk and marginalised young people to benefit from the Award.

The issue

Kawerau is an isolated rural community in the Eastern Bay of Plenty region on New Zealand’s North Island. With employment limited to the local paper mill, there has historically been a lack of prospects for young people. The community had been plagued with a suicide rate 12 times the national average, and the wellbeing of young males was a key concern.

Kawerau Award participants

Meeting the needs of the Maori community

Kawerau is rooted in its Maori heritage, which was key to how the Award in New Zealand approached the project. The team partnered with the 100% Maori delivery provider, Potiki Adventures, who had the cultural credibility, skills and resources to engage the young Maori community.

The aim was to raise self-esteem and help the Maori teenagers to connect with their identity; whilst equipping them with vital skills for the world of work. Activities for each of the Award’s four sections were therefore carefully chosen with these aims in mind.

For example, the Skills section initially focused on Tikanga Maori, beliefs, protocols and spirituality, to start the healing process of re-establishing their identity. Once the young people were in a more positive mindset, broader, transferable skills were developed for the workplace.  

Exceeding expectations

The project was a greater success than anyone could have anticipated. The initial target was 36-42 participants over the three years; by the end of the project 78 young people had taken up the Award, nearly twice the original goal.

Feedback surveys designed by the Ministry of Youth Development, showed the outcomes for young people. An impressive 100% felt the Award had improved their personal and social skills, and over 90% had acquired new skills and knowledge.

Sherraijka Bruintjes, a Silver Award holder, is one example of this. Through renewed confidence and self-belief, she made the brave decision to go on a student exchange to the USA in 2017 and has begun the challenge of fundraising over $10,000. Sherraijka is also taking on her Gold Award this year and is looking forward to her adventures. 

A lasting legacy

Having Kawerau High School in a position to now take over as an Award Unit has been an incredible achievement.

Andy Woodhouse, Training and Development Director for the Award in New Zealand explains:

“It is not always easy to make a funded project with a finite end sustainable, for many reasons. The fact that we have achieved this in an isolated low-socio economic area with many complex social issues is something we are very proud of. Most importantly, it means young people in Kawerau will continue to benefit from everything the Award offers in years to come.”

Take a look here for further information about the Award in New Zealand.