Graeme Dingle Excellence Awards 2020 Honour Exceptional Young Kiwis

In a year where COVID-19 has tested the resolve of New Zealanders, a group of young Kiwis, mentors, volunteers and leaders celebrated their exceptional resilience in the face of adversity at the 20th annual Graeme Dingle Foundation 2020 Excellence Awards, held in Auckland on Wednesday 16 October.

Over 100 people gathered at The Vic in Devonport, including Her Excellency The Right Honourable Dame Patsy Reddy, GNZM, QSO, to celebrate more than 27,000 students and others across the country who have been involved in the Foundation’s various youth development programmes including Kiwi Can, Stars, Career Navigator and Project K over the previous 12 months. The evening was sponsored by the Foundation’s longstanding sponsor, the Stride Property Group.

This is the 25th year since mountaineer and outdoor education pioneer Sir Graeme Dingle and his partner Jo-anne Wilkinson founded the not-for-profit organisation with the intention to help Kiwi children and young people develop mental fitness and resilience through self-belief, so that ultimately young people believe that ‘what they have inside is greater than any obstacle’.

Many of the amazing young people celebrated last night have bounced back from hardship and conquered immense challenges to chart a positive course through life, steered towards self-belief by the Foundation’s transformational programmes, and the positive impact the Foundation has had on their lives.

Sir Graeme Dingle, says this year’s Awards, coming at a time when COVID-19 has changed lives throughout the world, perfectly showcase what the Foundation lives and breathes – teaching young people to be resilient.

“The ethos of our Foundation is focused on helping young New Zealanders overcome obstacles. We want them 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 make a contribution to society.

“This year in particular, with the lockdown restrictions imposed by COVID-19, these young people and their mentors and volunteers had to work extra hard to complete their programmes, often online.”

Sir Graeme says the Awards are an opportunity to celebrate this country’s future – our children and our young people.

“They provide 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 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. We are really proud of all of them,” says Sir Graeme.

The annual Excellence Awards began life as the Project K Outstanding Student Award and were first hosted by Governor General, Dame Sylvia Cartwright, in 2000.


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Excellence Awards 2020 MC's

MC's Carol Hirschfeld and Aniket Niketra

Simaima Nau, Auckland addresses guests at Graeme Dingle Foundation Excellence Awards 2020

Simaima Nau - Project K

Nicola Biss receives her award from Dame Patsy Reddy

Nicola Biss with Her Excellency Dame Patsy Reddy

Jaleel Arataura-Collins, Canterbury

Jaleel Arataura-Collins - Project K winner


Auckland winners

Excellence Awards 2020

Kiwi Can Leaders

Project K - One Tree Hill College

The full list of 2020 Award Recipients is as follows:

Kiwi Can Outstanding School Award

Kaeo School – Far North

Sponsored by NZ Steel

Kiwi Can - Outstanding Team Leader Award

Pitiera Tuhura and Renee Leabourn – Western Bay of Plenty

Sponsored by Mitre 10

Stars - Outstanding Contribution from a Peer Mentor

Sharna Steer – Western Bay of Plenty, Faiesea Ah Chee – Auckland, Philip Garner – Auckland

Sponsored by AIG

Career Navigator - Outstanding Achievement of a Student

Tiare Petero – Waikato

Sponsored by SAP

Project K - Excellence Award

Simaima Nau – Auckland, Jaleel Arataura-Collins – Canterbury, Vaitoelau Ah Chee – Auckland

Sponsored by Bidfood

Outstanding Programme Coordinator Award

Karla Guerin – Canterbury

Sponsored by Lion

Outstanding Contribution from a Volunteer Award

Ted Culley – Marlborough

Sponsored by Stride

Sir Edmund Hillary Youth Achievement Award

Nicola Biss – Auckland

Presented by Her Excellency, The Right Honourable Dame Patsy Reddy, Governor General of New Zealand