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Young volunteer picks up community award

Wiremu Rupapere with Masterton mayor, Lyn Paterson. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

An energetic and active youth leader has been recognised for his work in the community with a youth award from Masterton District Council.

Shari Taylor nominated Wiremu Rupapere for his substantial contribution across the region in a wide range of areas and activities.

“I nominated him for the work he does in our community based on aroha [love]. He doesn’t get paid for what he does,” she said.

Eighteen-year-old Rupapere works at the Eastern and Central Community Trust, where he helps young people apply for funding and scholarships. He is a key contact there for Wairarapa groups.

Rupapare has also been a Master of Ceremonies at music festival Waifest, has hosted at regional Iwi hui and Kaumatua hui.

“He is a big advocate for Te Ao Maori ,” Taylor said.

He has advocated at a council hui for the Makoura Rd name correction and worked with council staff on initiatives for Rangatahi. He has also facilitated leadership hui for Masterton-based Kapa Haka group members, Te Whare Tapere o Manukura.

“He does a lot of work with our Kaumatua. He helps them with a wide range of tasks – things like doing the grocery run, checking up on them and running errands for them. He’s a very giving person,” Taylor said.

“He’s got an amazing work ethic, and his love and passion for Te Ao Maori help keep those protocols alive,” she said.

Rupapere spends time with the Kaumatua, listening to their stories and making sure they are recorded for the future.

Taylor said Rupapere had arrived at the awards evening fashionably late and had been pleased to win the award.

Rupapere said he felt he didn’t deserve the award.

“It was truly an honour to be given it on behalf of our community,” he said, saying that he felt a lot of emotion finding out he had won.

“I didn’t even know I had been nominated. I got a phone call on the way to work telling me I’d won and I didn’t even know I’d been entered.”

Rupapere described the council awards event as ‘awesome’.

“I really liked having all our community helpers and volunteers together in one place. I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”

Masterton-based Rupapere said he was grateful to everyone who helped him win.

“A thank-you to all the other nominees and all the people that supported me, especially my mum and dad,” he said.

A council spokesperson said Rupapere was a positive role model for Rangatahi Maori, had actively participated in and shown dedication to Te Ao Maori, and had acknowledged and honoured his whakapapa.

He also established his own business, Aho Rua Creations, to showcase and recognise Aotearoa/New Zealand’s dual heritage.

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