Local teen young Kiwi of the year

TOP KIWI: New Plymouth's Jamie Fenton was named Young New Zealander of the Year.
TOP KIWI: New Plymouth's Jamie Fenton was named Young New Zealander of the Year.

School certificate at age eight, tertiary qualification at 10 and top youth in the country at 17.

New Plymouth's Jamie Fenton was last night named Young New Zealander of the Year for her all-round abilities as a youth role model, academic achiever and inventor.

She could not attend the awards gala dinner in Auckland as she is currently in England because of a family bereavement.

However, in a filmed acceptance speech recorded by award organisers, she said it was an unbelievable honour to win and she was disappointed that she could not be there to accept it.

"It can be difficult when you're a young person to know that what you're actually doing matters and where you're actually going is on the right track," she said.

However, she believed the award existed for all those young people who went about their daily lives seeking to contribute to New Zealand, their families and communities.

"I think that's the reason that this award is so important because it provides encouragement to young people who wouldn't otherwise perhaps get that recognition until later in life," she said.

In Jamie's young New Zealander finalist profile, it said she exemplified the mantra that Kiwi kids could do anything, which was reflected in her willingness to take risks, learn from failure and give everything her best effort.

Jamie invented a noise-level meter to stop preschoolers going deaf from exposure to excessive noise at child care.

She came up with the idea for the gadget when she was aged 10 and it is now being commercially-produced by the National Foundation for the Deaf.

Jamie was one of five award winners announced from a list of three finalists in each category.

Each winner received a handcrafted trophy and $5000 towards their work from principal sponsor Kiwibank.

One of the country's most highly respected scientists, Sir Paul Callaghan, was named the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Year 2011.

Other winners were:

Alison Neill, 78, Fairlie, South Canterbury: Countdown Senior New Zealander of the Year for providing over 30 years of voluntary care to the elderly; Billy Graham Naenae, Lower Hutt: Kiwibank Local Heroes Award for his extraordinary work creating programmes for at-risk youth.

The Gibbston Community Association, Central Otago: Mitre 10 Community of the Year Award for their outstanding community development achievements.

Taranaki Daily News