Amy - Why I nominated Shemelah for a Prime Minister's Oranga Tamariki award

Published: August 21, 2020

Social worker, Amy Scott, nominated a young person for the Prime Minister’s Oranga Tamariki Awards last year and she says it was an incredible way to celebrate how far they've come.

Shemelah with PM
Shemelah and her daughter with the Prime Minister at last years' awards ceremony

Acknowledging “huge life changes”

Amy says the changes Shemelah had made to her life were huge. 

Shemelah has a young daughter, and having been a teen mum herself, Amy knew how hard that can be.

“Everything Shemelah had done to get to where she was, was all her own mahi,” she says.

“I’d seen how far she’d come and how much she’s changed, and I really wanted to acknowledge that for her,” she says.

Making the nomination

After hearing of the Prime Minister’s Oranga Tamariki Awards through a staff email, Amy says she straight away thought of Shemelah.

Her nomination included a letter of recommendation from the principal of Taonga Teen Parenting Unit as well as several certificates of awards Shemelah had received – including a Bronze Duke of Edinburgh award.

Tears of pride

When Shemelah found out she was a recipient, she was so excited she was in tears, says Amy.

“I think it validated all of her hard work and showed her that it’s worth striving for more.

“As a teen mum you get told all sorts of negative things, but this was something that was really encouraging for her.”

Amy travelled with Shemelah for the awards and says the day was filled with tears of pride.  

“Shemelah knew she was setting a good example for her daughter and that her dad was looking down [from heaven] as she’s made him proud.”  

Nominate now

Amy says making a nomination for a Prime Minister’s Oranga Tamariki Award is about celebrating all that a young person has achieved and shows them that they can keep going in that positive direction.

She says it’s was also a great experience for her as a social worker.

“It’s important to see that the work we do can make a truly positive difference to the lives of tamariki and rangatahi.”

Since the awards

Since Shemelah received the Prime Minister’s Oranga Tamariki Award she’s written her story and had it published in ‘Been There: Young People’s Stories of Struggle and Hope’ – a collection of stories from 25 New Zealand young people - published by the Collaborative Trust and edited by Steve Langley.

She’s also completed NCEA level 3, is living independently with her daughter and others from her whānau, and stays connected with Strive Community Trust and her mentor from Youth Horizons.

The next step for Shemelah is her studies with the New Zealand School of Tourism, and she’ll be starting her course once it gets underway.   

Nominations for the Prime Minister’s Oranga Tamariki Awards close Friday 4 September. 

Make a nomination