From left: Mayor Alex Walker, Young Employee of the Year Ari Henson, Waipukurau Rotary President Richard Haldane, and Rotary Director of Vocation and Youth, Jane Clouston.

More young people are staying in Central Hawke’s Bay to live and work than ever before.

Mayor Alex Walker made this observation reflecting on a ceremony last week to celebrate 20 young graduates of Central Hawke’s Bay’s Mayoral Taskforce for jobs.  

Each year local businesses combine with the Taskforce to support  18–34 year old apprentices working in trades. This year graduates ranged from mechanical, electrical, hospitality and youth work and were honoured at the Mayoral Graduation Ceremony at Central Hawke’s Bay Municipal Theatre. 

“Our trades are vital to our growth as a community and having pathways into employment is vital too,” says Walker. “Young people living, working and earning in our community is a powerful combination.

 “Traditionally there has been an exodus of young people leaving Central Hawke’s Bay once they finish school,“  she adds, “but today young people are moving to Central Hawke’s Bay because the housing is still affordable.” 

At the awards ceremony Walker said she “would like to personally congratulate every single graduate who worked so hard to upskill, and who did so by continuing their education in Central Hawke’s Bay.

 “This is also a celebration of employers who have dedicated time and effort to supporting our youth and helping to keep their skills within our communities. Opportunities such as these pave the way toward a thriving future for our district.”

The Mayors Taskforce for Jobs is a nationwide initiative, encouraging youth into education, training, work and other positive activities. In Central Hawke’s Bay, the  Council also collaborates with Waipukurau Rotary to present a Rotary Young Employee of the Year. Ari Henson, a youth worker with Epic Ministries Inc, an NGO that mentors and inspires young leaders, beat 13 others for the title. Two graduates also won a highly commended achievement: Ashleigh Renata from New Zealand Police force and New World Waipukurau employee Rebecca Turfrey.

Inaugural Rotary Young Employee of the Year for 2021, Morgan Dysart said the award was a great way to boost profile for local youth, who were working hard behind the scenes.

“We have been very encouraged with the high standard of young employees this year, and how their personal stories, journeys and backgrounds have impacted and equipped them in a positive way.”

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