National Excellence Awards

Honouring Exceptional Young Kiwis

We were excited to have our National Excellence Awards at the Auckland Zoo Domes celebrating the achievements and mahi of our rangatahi, mentors, volunteers and leaders.

On Thursday 2nd of November, we celebrated 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. 

This is the 28th year since mountaineer and outdoor education pioneer Sir Graeme Dingle and his partner Jo-anne Wilkinson, Lady Dingle 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’.

Our Excellence Awards is known for celebrating the next generation of successful young Kiwis – for all they’ve achieved and overcome, their personal growth and their futures. The Awards also pay tribute to committed Foundation volunteers and employees who have given so much of their lives to Aotearoa’s young people. 


The full list of 2023 Award Recipients is as follows:

Kiwi Can Outstanding School Award

Te Kura o Matarangi Northcote – Canterbury

Sponsored by Lion

Outstanding Leader, Team Award

Atutahi Henare & Gemma Tidswell – Western Bay of Plenty

Sponsored by New Zealand Steel

Stars - Outstanding Contribution from a Peer Mentor

Elijah Amituana’i – Auckland

Cade-Tutehiwi Seymour – Waikato

Sophie Ridley-Scott – Marlborough

Faafoi Faafoi Timoteo – Wellington

Sponsored by Sanitarium

Career Navigator - Outstanding Achievement of a Participant

Chloe Jones – Marlborough

Rarua Kiriwi – Waikato

Erica Kwakye – Hawke’s Bay

Sponsored by Brightstar

Project K - Excellence Award

Kaitlin Lockyer – Western Bay of Plenty

Iszack Bruce – Auckland

Lichelle Katoa – Auckland

Sponsored by AIG

He Ara Ākonga - Excellence Award

Mataturoa Puata-Biel – Western Bay of Plenty

Lineti Tu’uta – Auckland

Best Community Project Award

Heretaunga Intermediate School – Hawke’s Bay

Sponsored by Mitre 10

Outstanding Programme Coordinator Award

Leah Nesbit – Western Bay of Plenty

Cathy Tia – Wellington

Sponsored by Bidfood

Volunteer Award

Nicki Stretch – Marlborough

Sponsored by Stride

Sir Edmund Hillary Achievement Award

Briar Thorman – Auckland

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