MEDIA RELEASE                                                                              

A group of exceptional young Kiwis, mentors, volunteers and leaders have been celebrated for their resilience, self-belief and contribution to society at the annual Graeme Dingle Foundation 2019 Excellence Awards, held in Auckland last night.

Over 200 people gathered at the AUT Sir Paul Reeves Building, including Governor General Dame Patsy Reddy, GNZM, QSO.

It was an opportunity to celebrate more than 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.

The Foundation’s goal is to help Kiwi children and young people develop mental fitness and resilience through self-belief, so that ultimately all of our 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.

The audience heard some of the personal stories of a number of graduates who had taken part in the Foundation’s transformational journey, and the positive impact it has on their lives.

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

“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. They provide a valuable platform for them to recognise their own strengths and 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. Above all else, 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 really 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.


The full list of Award Recipients is as follows:

Kiwi Can Outstanding School Award
Pomaria Primary, Auckland

Sponsored by Mitre 10

Kiwi Can – Outstanding Team Leader Award
Jordan Peipi and Fili Moalafotu, Marlborough
Jade Raumati and Sam Wright, Bay of Plenty

Sponsored by NZ Steel

Stars – Outstanding Contribution from a Peer Mentor
Joshua Manning, Auckland
Renee Hurliman, Waikato
Reina Treadaway, Waikato
Lara Craigie, Auckland

Sponsored by THL

Career Navigator – Outstanding Achievement of a Student
Melissa Blackett, Waikato
Paige Auton, Waikato

Sponsored by Rothbury Insurance Brokers

Project K – Excellence Award
Daunte Baird-Pradella, Canterbury
Keanu Pene, Auckland
Matthew McCarthy, Auckland
Mollie Evans, Auckland

Sponsored by Bidfood

Outstanding Programme Coordinator Award
Lisa Preece, Marlborough

Sponsored by AIG

Outstanding Contribution from a Volunteer Award
Emma Haddock, Waikato

Sponsored by STRIDE

Kiwi Tahi Award (Auckland only)

Taati Tahana

Sponsored by Foundation North

MYND Youth Achievement Award (Auckland only)

Dontae Marino

Presented by Her Excellency, The Right Honourable Dame Patsy Reddy, Governor General of New Zealand and Steven Smith, NZ Police



Released by the Graeme Dingle Foundation.

For more information, media interviews or images please contact: Pam Smith on or 021 152 6272 / 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 Kiwi Tahi and MYND (Auckland based programmes). 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.

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