The stand-out achievements of Whakatāne rangatahi were celebrated on Friday (21 October) at the inaugural 2022 Whakatāne Mayoral Youth Community Awards.

It was special time for rangatahi/youth to be recognised for their broad range of achievements which included bird protection work, spearheading sustainability programmes, musical and kapa haka representation, sports coaching and development, diversity and inclusion initiatives, tutoring and mentoring of students, marae representation and volunteer firefighting to name a few.

The awards, which were held at the Whakatāne War Memorial Hall, aim to reward the district’s young people for their contribution to civic life and in so doing, inspire them to be future leaders of their community.

Whakatāne District Mayor Victor Luca said it was a hard job to determine who the awards went to because of “the outstanding examples of energy, determination, courage and leadership among the nominees,” and he acknowledged the “teachers, parents, and whānau who mentor, support and encourage these young people towards greatness.”

Whakatāne High School student Anchal Sharma was presented with the Distinction Award which celebrated her consistent commitment to service in all facets. Anchal, who has led and participated in many school and community initiatives was applauded for her ‘clear capacity to mobilise students, her exceptional organisation skills and her focused determination to achieve success in everything she does.’

Whakatāne District Council renewed its format for the awards which now includes only Year 9 -13 students and categories align with the four wellbeings of Local Government NZ: Community; arts and culture; leadership/economy; and environment.

The event replaced the Young Achiever Awards that had been an annual fixture for more than 40 years, originally introduced by the late Mayor Rex Morpeth.

The awards are supported by the Whakatāne District Council, Whakatāne-Ōhope Community Board and Rotary Whakatāne.

Award finalists and recipients


Anchal Sharma

Community Service

  • Juliska Coetzee – Winner
  • Eru Harawira – Finalist
  • Huiarangi Mariu-Rangihau – Finalist
  • Kate Stables – High commendation
  • Esther Pearce – High commendation

Arts and Culture

  • Charles Blackburn – Winner
  • Manawaru Rangihau – Finalist
  • Paretapua Tipene – Commendation


  • Anchal Sharma – Winner
  • Ashley Pye – Finalist
  • Sam Royal – Finalist
  • Vadim Moke-Kingi – Commendation


  • Sam Bennett – Winner
  • Lara Longney – Finalist
  • Peyton Coffey – Finalist