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Ten recipients of the 2016 Minister for Youth’s International Leadership Award were announced today by Youth Minister Nikki Kaye.

“This award supports outstanding young New Zealanders to access an international opportunity to further develop their leadership skills,” says Ms Kaye.

“An important element of the award is a commitment by the recipients to use their international experience to inspire, mentor and foster ongoing leadership opportunities for other young New Zealanders in their community upon their return home.”

The ten recipients of the 2016 Minister for Youth’s International Leadership Award are:

Ezel Kokcu (Wellington) Sam Johnson (Christchurch) Bonnie Howland (Wellington) Toby Carr (Auckland) Ben Wigley (Christchurch) Charlizza Harris (Lower Hutt) Kii Small (Kaitaia) Lucy Xie (Auckland) Melody Guo (Auckland) Nathalie Harrington (Wellington).

“These are young people who have already accomplished amazing things in business and their communities, and are recognised for their leadership and entrepreneurship.

“They were selected from a talented pool of candidates, and are testament to the many young New Zealanders who have great vision and fortitude, as well as a real sense of social responsibility.

“The award will enable the recipients to travel to China from 5 to 11 September, where they will attend the second-ever New Zealand China Young Leaders Forum in Beijing.

“This forum, which was first held in Auckland last year, aims to facilitate dialogue, connection and partnership between Chinese and Kiwi young people in areas such as the environment, technology, innovation and entrepreneurship.

“The focus of the 2016 forum and the trip being undertaken by the award recipients is leadership, entrepreneurship, education and technology.

“I’d like to acknowledge the New Zealand Chinese Youth Federation, which is supporting a delegation of 42 Chinese Kiwis and others to attend the forum, alongside the award recipients.

“The combined support provided by the Federation and the Ministry of Youth Development means 52 young New Zealanders are in for an amazing experience.

“China is one of our largest and most important trading partners, with whom we continue to build stronger and deeper ties. The Young Leaders Forum is an important strand in growing the level of engagement and understanding between our two countries.

“As well as attending the forum, the young New Zealand leaders will participate in a range of other opportunities in both Beijing and Shanghai during their stay in China. These will include discussion sessions led by expert speakers in fields such as scientific innovation, cultural creativity and social enterprise, and visits to cutting-edge innovation and incubation hubs.

“I encourage the award recipients to immerse themselves in this experience, to inspire their ideas for future personal, business and social initiatives.

“The experience will be invaluable to helping generate their plans for future youth development opportunities in New Zealand, utilising both their current and yet-to-be discovered networks.

“All of the award recipients will provide reports to the Ministry of Youth Development in 2017, detailing the new youth development opportunities that have arisen as a result of their international experience.

“With support from the Ministry, each recipient has agreed to facilitate opportunities for 30-40 other young people, creating up to 400 new opportunities in total.”


2016 Minister for Youth’s International Leadership Award recipients

Ezel Kokcu, co-founder, STQRY

While studying computer science at Victoria University of Wellington, Ezel was involved in a social and digital marketing start-up. Shortly after, she co-founded STQRY, which developed software to create products that help organisations transact with people in real time, such as their storytelling app to enhance the visitor experience within art and cultural organisations. Three years on, STQRY is now known as Area360, and is developing and selling in four countries to over 500 organisations worldwide.

Sam Johnson, Director, WeMobilise

Sam is Director of WeMobilise Ltd and Adjunct Fellow in the School of Education and Leadership at the University of Canterbury.  He is most well-known for founding the University of Canterbury Student Volunteer Army (SVA) after the Christchurch earthquakes. Sam is currently developing a social enterprise that links underemployed youth with socially isolated elderly. In early 2016, his team pioneered ‘Serve for New Zealand’ - a national campaign that mobilises people to pledge an hour of their time to neighbourly activities on significant public holidays.

Bonnie Howland, CEO and founder, Indigo & Iris

Bonnie is the founder of Indigo & Iris, an ethical makeup company, which aims to cure treatable blindness in the South Pacific by using 100% of its profit to fund eyesight restoring surgeries. Indigo & Iris has partnered with the Fred Hollows Foundation New Zealand and their work has changed the lives of people throughout the world including the South Pacific. In 2015, she was chosen to represent New Zealand at the Global Entrepreneurship Summit in Kenya. In 2016 she was named as a Global Teen Leader by the We Are Family Foundation in New York.

Toby Carr, CEO, DeXTech

Toby is an entrepreneur and changemaker with a passion for technology. He has been involved in a number of tech start-ups and is the founder and CEO of DeXTech, which provides innovation and technology solutions to a variety of customers, including the business and education sector. Currently completing his final year at high school, Toby also studied Technology Entrepreneurship at Stanford University in San Francisco in late 2015.

Ben Wigley, co-founder, Banqer

Ben is co-founder of Banqer, the organisation behind an in-classroom financial education website that creates a truly life-like classroom economy. With fully functioning virtual bank accounts, investments and a property market, kids can experience what life is like after they leave school but in a safe and fun environment. Banqer won the BNZ Webstock Startup Alley competition in early 2015. It’s now used by over 7,000 students in nearly 500 classrooms.

Charlizza Harris, CEO and Founder, 2Face Drama and InOvation Trust

Charlizza is founder and CEO of 2FACE Drama, a non-profit performing arts company delivering leadership workshops to youth. She also teaches the fundamentals of social enterprise and business development to young people through her recently founded company, InOvation Trust. In 2015 she won a Youth Week award, and also received a Network for Teaching Entrepreneurship award.

Kii Small, student, Victoria University of Wellington

Kii was born and raised in Hamilton, Bermuda, moving to New Zealand when he was 12. While studying at Kaitaia College, Kii served as student representative on the Board of Trustees, was a member of the Senior Council, captained the 1st XI soccer team, and represented the school in lawn bowls and indoor soccer. He was selected as the Northland Youth MP for Youth Parliament 2016, representing the Rt Hon Winston Peters. Kii is currently a second year student at the Victoria University of Wellington, completing a Bachelor of Commerce in International Business and Political Science.

Lucy Xie, founder, Memribox

Lucy is a social entrepreneur and digital ethnographer. After winning two entrepreneurship competitions, Lucy founded Memribox in 2014 to develop scalable solutions for gathering people’s stories, starting with the oral history of New Zealand World War 2 veterans. In 2016, her enterprise was one of seven selected for the Youth Enterprise Fund. In the past year, she has represented New Zealand in Stockholm and Berlin for two separate digital transformation projects led by young people.

Melody Guo, co-founder, Future E

Melody is the co-founder of Future E, an e-learning software program that pairs New Zealand and Chinese students as pen-pals. The pen-pals use the software to learn about each other's language and culture, making language learning a social activity. She is on the board of AFS Intercultural New Zealand, a charitable trust that facilitates high school cultural exchanges in New Zealand. Melody has worked for the New Zealand China Council, organising forums between New Zealand and China for the promotion of trade, education and political dialogues between the two countries.

Nathalie Harrington, solicitor, Russell McVeagh

At eight years old, Nathalie Harrington moved from New Zealand to Liuyang city in the Hunan province of China. By the time she returned to New Zealand aged 12, she was fluent in Chinese Mandarin for a child of her age. On her return to New Zealand, Nathalie continued to study Mandarin at University. She graduated with a Bachelor of Laws (LLB), and a Bachelor of Arts in Chinese and Public Policy. She works at Russell McVeagh law firm in Wellington. Nathalie is an active volunteer, and is a member of the board at Volunteer Wellington.

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