MEDIA RELEASE                            

One of Canterbury’s most inspiring young Kiwis was recognised for his journey from being “someone who walked with his head held low” to becoming a role model for his peers, at the Graeme Dingle Foundation 2019 Excellence Awards, held in Auckland last night.

Daunte Baird-Pradella received the Project K Award for his outstanding achievements in the programme, overcoming personal life challenges in his journey to becoming independent and an inspiration to others.

Project K is a positive youth development programme that targets Year 10 students (13 – 15-year olds) with untapped potential, with the goal of improving their social, mental and physical well-being. The 14-month programme builds self-confidence, promotes health and education skills and helps students to set and achieve goals with the support of trained adult mentors.

The Award is sponsored by Bidfood.

Kat Matheson, the Project K Coordinator at Hornby High School, says there is no better advocate for Project K than Daunte.

“Before he was selected for Project K, he was a boy that got bullied by his peers and would walk with his head low. He struggled to stay focused and in making good choices with the company he kept.

“Daunte also struggled in focusing and staying committed to his school work. He was selected for Project K and paired with his mentor Ian Pendle who worked so patiently with Daunte in keeping him on task and focused.

“Project K ignited a spark in Daunte that enabled him to grow hugely in this last year. He has tackled everything and anything with sheer grit and determination and he has adopted the most positive outlook on life.

“He has peers that want to follow him and be his friends, he has become a role model for his little brother and his friends too. Daunte has also become selfless with his time and volunteers back into his community.

“He has found a true love for life and has also realised anything is possible.”

Daunte received his award on an evening which celebrated the over 27,000 students, their mentors, leaders and volunteers across the country who have been involved in the Foundation’s various youth development programmes including Kiwi Can, Stars, Career Navigator, Project K, Kiwi Tahi and MYND – over the previous 12 months.

It also celebrated the incredible achievements of these amazing young people, many of whom have conquered immense challenges to chart a positive course through life.

The Foundation’s co-founder Sir Graeme Dingle, the mountaineer and outdoor education pioneer, says the Awards perfectly showcase what the Foundation lives and breathes – transforming young lives forever.

“The ethos of our Foundation is that we want all young New Zealanders to have a life full of possibilities so they can achieve their dreams and make the most of their unique talents. We want to help them build foundations for success.

“The Awards are an amazing opportunity to celebrate this country’s future – our children and our young people. It provides a valuable platform for them to recognise their own strengths and muster, from within, the conviction to overcome challenges, both big and small. It is also a wonderful reminder of the incredible work that our mentors and volunteers deliver, day in and day out, for children and young people throughout the country.

“Each year, these kids show courage, determination and resilience. It gives me a tremendous sense of joy to be able to recognise and acknowledge each and every one of our winners, who we are all so exceptionally proud of,” concludes Sir Graeme.

The annual Excellence Awards began life as the Project K Outstanding Student Award. They were first hosted by Governor General, Dame Sylvia Cartwright, 19 years ago. The Awards provide an opportunity to honour and celebrate outstanding young New Zealanders across all of the Foundation’s programmes throughout New Zealand.

Released by the Graeme Dingle Foundation.

For more information, please contact: Pam Smith on
or 09 477 6244.

About the Graeme Dingle Foundation

  • The Graeme Dingle Foundation is the highly successful youth charity named in recognition of Kiwi adventurer and personality Sir Graeme Dingle who founded the not-for-profit organisation with his partner Jo-anne Wilkinson in 1995.
  • Sir Graeme and Lady Dingle had a vision to improve New Zealand’s negative youth statistics. They have helped over 250,000 young Kiwis be more confident, find purpose and direction, and achieve success.
  • An Infometrics report in 2019 found that New Zealand benefits to the tune of nearly $8 for every $1 invested in the Graeme Dingle Foundation, in the form of reduced crime, young people getting better jobs and fewer young people becoming dependent on benefits.
  • The Graeme Dingle Foundation continues to run school-based programmes for thousands of Kiwis aged between 5 and 18 – Kiwi Can, Stars, Career Navigator and Project K, along with MYND (an Auckland based programme for youth offenders). These initiatives aim to broaden horizons, offer opportunities and give young people the chance to become the next generation of successful parents, leaders and business people.
  • For more information visit


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