'It's fun and inspiring to try and make a change' - NZ Youth Champion winner

Wesley Mauafu has just won the Youth Champion Award at the 2017 New Zealand Youth Awards.
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Wesley Mauafu has just won the Youth Champion Award at the 2017 New Zealand Youth Awards.

A Christchurch student has been recognised for his work advocating and supporting young Pasifika people in the area of wellbeing and suicide prevention.

Wesley Mauafu received the Youth Champion Award at the 2017 New Zealand Youth Awards this week for his contribution to young people.

The University of Canterbury student, in his final year of his Bachelor of Engineering with Honours degree, said the win was "humbling".

Wesley Mauafu with his mum at the New Zealand Youth Awards ceremony on Tuesday evening.
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Wesley Mauafu with his mum at the New Zealand Youth Awards ceremony on Tuesday evening.

"It was awesome to go there and be re-motivated about how many young people there are in New Zealand," he said.

"It was fantastic."

The former Linwood College deputy head boy said the award gave him a sense of pride about his work and the work done by those around him.

The then year 12 student, Wesley Mauafu, meets the minister of education Hekia Parata at Linwood College in 2012.
David Hallett

The then year 12 student, Wesley Mauafu, meets the minister of education Hekia Parata at Linwood College in 2012.

"I try to do my studies, but I'm so passionate about my responsibilities," he said.

"When you help someone... it does my wellbeing a whole lot of good, helping wherever you can.

"I give what I can."

Also a rugby enthusiast, playing for Sumner Division 1, Mauafu ran Pasifika United to Lead Suicide Prevention Education (PULSE) in 2015, an event which aimed at increasing suicide prevention information with young Pasifika people.

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The New Zealand-born Samoan is part of the Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation (PYLAT) council, a Christchurch-based group which supports young Pacific people to engage in democracy.

"[PYLAT] started me off into this journey working in the community and in various sectors. It's fun and inspiring to try and make a change," Mauafu said.

Mauafu tutors Pacific students at university and his suicide prevention work extended to working with Le Va's Youth Action Komiti.

The awards were presented at Parliament in Wellington on Tuesday.

"These awards recognise young New Zealanders who have achieved outstanding results and given back to their communities, as well as those who've made a significant contribution towards supporting young people," said youth minister Nikki Kaye.

Last year Mauafu won the All Right and CDHB Commitment to Wellbeing Award at the Canterbury Youth Awards.

After he graduates, he will continue his work in the community, his rugby and "travel, eventually".

 - Stuff

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