James Power has been announced as the winner of the Youth Spirit Award in the TECT Community Awards.
The 18-year-old from Whakamarama moved to Christchurch this year to study Engineering at the University of Canterbury, but left his mark here in Tauranga. With his countless volunteering hours, academic achievements, and sporting accomplishments, James was recognised by the judges for embodying community spirit through his contribution to the region.
A volunteer lifeguard at Omanu Surf Life Saving Club, James has been in surf lifesaving since he was a child and has been a lifeguard at the club for four years.
James also completed the three-year Youth Search and Rescue programme, learning search, rescue and emergency response methodologies. During his time in the course, he achieved both the Leadership Award and Student of the Year.
Alongside his volunteering, James is also passionate about protecting our native birds, running a trapline in the Kaimai Ranges and building and selling rat traps.
While at Tauranga Boys’ College, James was Head of Arts and undertook roles in the school productions, Shakespeare competition, choir, debating and arts council. He is also an avid sportsman, playing hockey, water polo, snow sports and more.
James says he feels honoured to win the award and that it is recognition of the importance of giving back to the community.
“I feel very proud to have been recognised in this way. While it isn’t the reason that we do what we do, it’s always great to know that the time you put in is being seen, and appreciated. I also think its great recognition for Tauranga Boys’ College, Omanu Beach Surf Life Saving Club, and Youth Search and Rescue. Those organisations have really shaped and supported me, so I am incredibly grateful to them.”
“I think what we do is very important to the community, as everyone wants to be safe at the beach and in the hills. I love what I do, hopefully I will be able to continue lifeguarding when I come back to Tauranga for the summer. I would also love to join a Search and Rescue team in Christchurch in the next year or so, as continuing to develop my skills in this area in the beautiful terrain we have down south would be awesome.”
Maureen Chaytor from YSAR nominated James and says she is thrilled he has been recognised for his many achievements and volunteering.
“The reason we chose to nominate James is his caring, keen to volunteer personality. He is always first to put his hand up and always achieves what he volunteers for.
“James is an inspirational young man who has a great future ahead of him. At Youth Search and Rescue James represented all the attributes needed to become a fantastic leader and volunteer in Search and Rescue. He will be a change-maker and without a doubt, improve outcomes in his community over his lifetime. Students like James remind us that our future is in good hands.
“We are very proud of James winning this prestigious award and congratulate him wholeheartedly on behalf of the Board, the instructors and his peers. James' future is bright, both through the career choices he makes, but also the positive impacts he will have in the communities he lives. Well done James.”
The other finalists recognised in the Youth Spirit category included Brylee Comer, Irene Vakasiuola, Jack Miller, and Louis Donovan.
There are seven award categories: Event Excellence, Sustainable Future, Diversity and Inclusion, Rising Star, Youth Spirit, Volunteer of the Year, and Lifetime Service. STEMFest won the Event Excellence Award, Good Neighbour won the Sustainable Future Award, The Search Party Charitable Trust won the Diversity and Inclusion Award, and RRR – Rescue, Revive, Rehome won the Rising Star Award.
Next week’s award category is the Volunteer of the Year Award. Finalists are Brett Williamson, Bryce Dinneen, Elise Rohde, Lex Spencer, Sam Fellows and Trevor Clist.