This is the full list of the young Hamiltonians who are participating in 30 Under 30 for 2017.
Between August and December 2017, their profiles will be published on this section of our website, the Council's City News publication, and as short videos on the Council's official Facebook page.
Profiles will be rolled out between August and December, and you will be able to click on the name to read about the participant, as their profile is added.
Leighton left school as a 16-year-old, but has gone on to complete several qualifications – one an apprenticeship in light fabrication, and more recently business management and sales courses. He was recently promoted to business development manager, and now a team leader with his employer, demonstrating the tertiary education pathway is not the only one successful professional people can take.
Jason is already well-known to many Hamiltonians through his commitment to a range of community organisations. He is involved with Red Cross, Free FM, Young Workers Resource Centre and Hamilton East Community Hub to name just a few. Jason has governance experience, a passion for volunteer work and is a strong advocate for Hamilton's young people.
Portia has overcome her own disability and contributed significantly to improving the experience of students with disability through a teacher training module and school presentations. Portia has been able to effectively share her experiences of being a student with disability with student teachers at the University of Waikato, and this has become a permanent resource used with all graduating teachers in the region. The project gained international recognition. Portia also holds down part-time and voluntary work.
Stacey is one of New Zealand's fastest-rising stars in women's rugby, currently in Ireland with the Black Ferns as part of their Women's Rugby World Cup Campaign. A Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar at Waikato University, Stacey has represented Waikato and New Zealand in both sevens and 15s rugby. She has won a number of awards for her sporting and academic prowess and is also a Duffy Books in Homes Ambassador.
Damien Puddle, 28
Damien has helped to turn the obscure activity of parkour into a nationally recognised sport and leads the national organisation – the New Zealand Parkour Association. He drives efforts to use parkour as a positive outlet and recreation, as well as an educational tool. He has a Bachelor with 1st Class Honours in Sport and Exercise Science from Wintec. He has received several awards and scholarships over the years for his academic work and has research published in the Journal of Sports Science and Medicine. A TEDx Ruakura guest speaker, he is currently studying toward a PHD.
Eileish is a talented footballer who has already represented New Zealand at age group level. She has been part of the New Zealand U20 women's team, a commitment which required travel to Auckland five times a week to train and has resulted in her playing tournaments overseas. She is a role model for young female footballers and works extremely hard at her sport. She has also been a Sir Edmund Hillary Scholar and has travelled to Kent State University in Ohio on a football-related scholarship. Locally, she has played for Claudelands Rovers Northern Regional Women's Premiership side, in which she is a senior player.
Gemma has overcome some significant personal and health issues in her life to become a competent professional and develop her own businesses. She has shaken off labels and stigmas relating to mental health to become a champion for those facing similar struggles and spoken publicly about her personal journey. She has completed academic study at tertiary level, and is now employed by Momentum Foundation. She has also launched her own social enterprise, Betley, and is closely involved with Seed Waikato, a group supporting other young Hamiltonians.
The Zeal Hamilton crew has been selected for 30 Under 30 as a collective. Based in the heart of Hamilton's central business district, Zeal is dedicated to helping young kiwis discover, express and develop their creativity. Along with their Street Youth Work and MATES programmes, Zeal Hamilton also provides work space for other youth organisations creating an essential hub for young people to connect to services.
Brayden is a vocal champion of futsal, the indoor court version of football. He has represented New Zealand and the regional WaiBOP federation in his sport, and has also appeared in the US-based Professional Futsal League alongside some of the game's best players. In one of New Zealand's fastest-growing sports, Brayden is a leading light showcasing a love of the sport and exceptional skills which he passes on to others with energy and passion.
Aaron's platform as a speaker, youth mentor and musician opens a world of possibilities. Writing and recording alongside colleagues from his church, he has released an album entitled Kia Kaha. The songs are inspired by Aotearoa, and are a new sound to the Christian community as they are bilingual and embrace the relationship and reconciliation of Maori and non-Maori.
Born in Afghanistan, Maryam arrived in New Zealand in 2015 as part of a refugee resettlement programme. She immediately threw herself into volunteering work, supporting other refugees develop their English as well as extending her own grasp of the language. Maryam has huge passion for her community – and adopted city – and actively works to support other people settling in New Zealand through work with the Hamilton East Community House and Red Cross. She is a qualified interpreter and is about to embark on tertiary study.
Natalie is a rising talent in the New Zealand women's cricket scene, having debuted for the Northern Spirit as a 15-year-old. Two years later she was selected for the White Ferns and has played both One Day International and T20 cricket internationally. She has been the Spirit's Player of the Year on two separate occasions and juggles her cricket commitments with a career in education.
Sarkaw arrived in New Zealand as an 11-year-old girl with no English – but that has not prevented her from being an academic high achiever. She holds a masters, two degrees, two postgraduate degrees and a postgraduate diploma – all of which she achieved before she turned 30. She is the owner and clinical director of Hillcrest Spinal Centre and is involved with a number of community and professional groups.
Prosperine Kadiya, 26
Prosperine is originally from the Democratic Republic of Congo, and like Maryam, came to New Zealand as a refugee. Her own experience has informed her work for others with a shared background – she is involved with a number of refugee and refugee-support organisations, including Red Cross, Waikato Refugee Forum and New Zealand Refugee Council. She is an inspiration to other young refugee women forging new lives in New Zealand.
Diana is the unofficial doyen of skateboarding in Hamilton. Official spokesperson and driving force behind the Htown Skate Project, she gives up countless hours of her own time to advocate for skateboarding and skateboarders, extending to work alongside the Council's staff to develop ideas for improved skateboarding facilities in Hamilton. She runs events and workshops and is also a loving mother to a three-year-old son.
Rewi Clark has been working at Education Action for the past three years as a tutor support for students aged 16-19. He is a tutor in the organisation's sport and recreation programme, currently taking a class of young males – many of whom have been in trouble at school, or come to the attention of police. He is working with his students so they can achieve NCEA qualifications and earn their drivers licenses. He is a role model for his class and they look up to him and respect him which is a testament to Rewi and his hard work – and his attitude toward his role and his students.
Sarah Thomson is a former University of Waikato law student (and current research staff member). She is currently suing the government, claiming it has failed to set appropriate targets for climate change reductions. This is a thoroughly inspiring and bold project to undertake. Whether or not the court case is successful or not, this is an outstanding achievement to hold the government to account – and doing so straight out of law school, having lodged papers as a 24-year-old. Her efforts have already gained media attention. Sarah shows you can aspire to create really positive change in your communities at any age.
Raya Helyar, 22
Raya is an up and coming female triathlete, having just completed a full season in her sport. She has been selected to represent New Zealand in triathlon in ITU World Championships in Canada, and is now striving toward the Cameron Brown Award – completing five specific events in and around Taupo. She also balances her triathlon commitments with studies at Waikato University.
Luke is a Hamilton-based Mixed Martial Artist who has this year joined the ranks of the lucrative and globally popular UFC. He has overcome a difficult background – including the death of his brother - to excel in one of the world's toughest sports. Luke works hard, trains hard and fights hard and is scheduled to make his third UFC appearance in February 2018. He has won 12 of his 16 professional fights.
Roxanna has overcome Dyscalculia – the numeracy equivalent of dyslexia and thus a significant learning challenge – to complete a Bachelor of Communication Studies. She also has a Masters in Management Studies (with first class honours), has a Graduate Diploma in Social Policy, and is currently undertaking study towards a PhD in Management Communication. Her studies included time in Canada and she has gone on to secure several scholarships. She volunteers for a number of groups and recently became a registered Marriage Celebrant, conducting weddings for couples struggling financially.
Louise Hutt, 25
Louise is a creative powerhouse, writer, blogger and feminist. She is a film-maker who has also written, directed and produced several short films, both documentaries and parodies. She launched Handmade in Hamilton to promote the work of other creative Hamiltonians and encourage people to buy local. Louise is passionate about creating communities, about our city, and about filmmaking.
Kim is a member of the Blind Foundation and has very limited vision. She does not let this stop her from participating in community events, work, study and self- development. She is a mentor and is someone who overcomes access issues every day. Kim is active with CCS Disability and has spent several years advocating on behalf of, and supporting, people with disabilities in both formal roles and information situations.
Through her governance role with the New Zealand Institute of Primary Industry Management Carla demonstrates to other young women throughout the primary industries that governance is an option if they desire. She is an influencer in developing the capability and capacity of current and future rural professionals throughout New Zealand, ensuring we continue to improve the economic, environmental and social performance of the primary sector. She inspires others to give back in their local communities through my roles with Life Education Trust Hamilton and work in high schools.
In the small sport of badminton, Chris is already a big achiever. Over the last two years he has represented New Zealand a number of times, including twice at the 2015 and 2016 World Junior Championships in Spain and Peru – he was team captain. Within this time I have also gained two silver medals at the Oceania Junior Championships. He invests a large amount of his own money – on top of his time – to travel to Auckland to train alongside elite peers. He has also overcome a significant knee injury to return to the top of his game.
Thomas has founded The Waterboy, a Hamilton based social enterprise making a large impact on many New Zealanders lives by breaking down barriers to give kiwis an opportunity to participate in sport. Although most initiatives of the kind focus on breaking down barriers for youth with financial and transport barriers, The Waterboy project has also worked with breaking down disability barriers, and homophobia. Thomas proves that with passion, continual learning, and hard work Hamilton youth can create something valuable to the community which is also inspiring and purposeful.
Eliot has emerged as a hugely successful online retailer based out of Hamilton.
Eliot and his team of two other full-time employees lead the way in the latest e-commerce practices and pass their knowledge on to interns who wish to learn from their expertise. Eliot's entrepreneurial achievements definitely set him apart from other under 30's, it's also worth noting that this was achieved with hardship. Eliot never his father, and was raised solely by his mother until she died in a car crash when Eliot was aged 16. Eliot was forced to leave school and start earning. The hardship and desire to do his mother proud still drives him today to be the best he can be in business and in providing for others.
Jade Browne is a musician and music teacher. She has several tertiary music qualifications, and during the last two and a half years she has worked as a music tutor for Starjam, conducting singing and band workshops with young adults with disabilities, providing musical instruction, support and guidance. This has been an incredibly rewarding experience which inspired research into the benefits of a meaningful music education. This year she has also been promoted to interim Programme Leader at Sistema Waikato, a social development music programme working at low decile schools and at risk children. This programme uses the model of the orchestra to promote both social and musical skills. Jade proves that young people can have a great positive influence in their cities, and across the world.
Nic Woods, 21
Nic is an accomplished hockey player who has already made 60 appearances for the men's Black Sticks – the New Zealand representative hockey team. Hamilton born and raised, he grew up playing hockey for Waikato and Midlands, and competed in the Rio Olympics in 2016. He currently trains and studies in Auckland, but is a Hamiltonian at heart and is keen to return to share his knowledge and experience with younger players.
Kieran is an aspiring photographer who, at just 16, has already overcome some significant life challenges. Kieran comes from a low-income single-parent household and had some difficulty at school. However, he has found a passion for photography and has subsequently developed a small business making his camera and photography expertise available to other people. He has provided photography tutoring to young Colombian refugees living in the city, and has photographed a number of events at the Zeal youth facility in central Hamilton. Kieran recently started Surge, a youth-led group to support and inspire other young people, and is currently studying toward a Communications qualification at Wintec.
Carl, 26, is a well-known face and voice for Hamilton's youth. He has been part of Zeal, the Hamilton Youth Council, the Western Community Centre Board of Trustees, Red Cross' Refugee Support and Disaster Welfare Teams and Ministry of Youth Development's Central North and National Advisory Panels. He's started his own charity and has a determined attitude of "get out and give things a go".