Global awards recognise young wahine’s efforts

A young Māori and Pasifika wahine is being recognised for her work advocating for youth empowerment in her communities.

Tylah Farani-Watene is one of just 32 inaugural Global Citizen Youth Leaders Award recipients from the Asia-Pacific region, and has been selected to travel to Australia for the Global Citizen NOW: Melbourne Summit from 4 to 6 March.

Farani-Watene, of Tainui, Ngāti Maru, Te Arawa and the Samoan villages of Taputimu, Nofoali’i and Fai’a’ai, said it was an incredible honour - but she had a tough time keeping the secret from her friends and whānau.

She is being recognised for her work to promote the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal of reducing inequality within and among countries by empowering Māori and Pasifika youth.

That includes leadership training and educational opportunities and highlighting the value of indigenous knowledge as the key to achieving a better future.

She was excited to do the mahi in Melbourne and meet some incredible people along the way.

“For me, being able to come into this space, I feel like I have a sense of responsibility and a duty to my family to invest a lot more and network with other people on how we can improve livelihoods.”

Farani-Watene said she wanted to make people across the world aware of the incredible changemaking which was happening in this part of the globe, and how there could be better inclusion of Pacific voices in international forums.

“What I’ve seen in the past in instances like COP or Davos and recently I was in New York City for the Global Goals Week, there aren’t a lot of faces from the Pacific region who are given this kind of platform. So, for me, this is such a huge privilege.”

She said having this platform had been incredible, because she had the chance to meet many people in positions she aspired to be in when it came to serving her community

Farani-Watene acknowledged she was announced as a recipient of the Youth Leaders Award on the same day as the passing of Fa’anānā Efeso Collins, someone who was a huge role model for her.

“The legacy that he’s left behind has really pushed me to understand my role in this space and to understand that every act of service that I do needs to be done with humility. That is something that I feel like he exemplified so powerfully in his lifetime.”

Farani-Watene said she would be thinking of Fa’anānā's aiga and the lives he impacted, including her own, during her time in Melbourne.