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Youth Ambassador Elizah Ward

Elizah Ward

Tūhoe, Ngāti Awa, Ngāti Porou

Bachelor of Education, Year 1

First-year Bachelor of Education student Elizah Ward is a member of Ngā Manukura Taiohi – Youth Ambassadors, a team of students from various rohe in Aotearoa who are committed to Awanuiārangi’s drive to make a difference for Māori through education and research.

As a Youth Ambassador, the promising 18-year-old proudly represents the institution at special events, functions and conferences, and provides leadership and mentoring to other students and prospective students.

Elizah’s first job as a Youth Ambassador was to assist with the wānanga’s 2012 Graduation event in Whakatāne, attended by well over 1000 people. Youth Ambassadors assisted with marshalling, carried banners during the Gown in Town hīkoi, and helped during the formal ceremonies that followed.

The former Whakatāne High School prefect, who performed for her school at the secondary schools kapa haka nationals and was a New Zealand representative touch player, said it was an honour to represent Awanuiārangi as a Youth Ambassador, and exciting to be at the heart of the wānanga’s special activities.

She has also benefited from noho and training sessions for Ngā Manukura Taiohi that have given her new knowledge, skills and confidence.

“We have had two noho focusing on leadership training, and we were able to familiarise ourselves with the wānanga’s many programmes, activities and initiatives. This has given us an overview of the wānanga and how it works for Māori all over the motu and indigenous peoples all over the world – all extra learning that I otherwise wouldn’t have had.

“For me, being a Youth Ambassador is about learning to give something back to the community, and an opportunity to help other people. It adds to my experiences, growth and development as a student.”

Elizah, who won a School Leavers Eastern Bay of Plenty Scholarship for her first year of tertiary study, said she decided to study teaching at Awanuiārangi because it was close to home, she was familiar with the campus, and the wānanga offered a quality education in a uniquely Māori environment.