News & Events

Youth worker a Local Hero

Thursday November 14 2019

Palmerston North City Council Youth Services Coordinator Kiesha Dais has been awarded the Kiwibank Local Hero Award for her work with the city’s young people, especially for her work as the Future Leaders programme coach for the Inspiring Stories organisation.

Dais’ daughter La-Shae Te Whata will receive the award on her mother’s behalf at a regional ceremony at Caccia Birch House, Palmerston North, on Wednesday 20 November. Her daughter accepting the award reflects Dais’ journey as a teen mum and her connection with teen mums through working in the youth sector.

The news of her award was shared at the Future Leaders Final Showcase at Youth Space, on Coleman Mall, on 22 October. The award recognises a person whose selflessness and determination has made a difference in the community. Council Youth Service Team Leader Debbie Christian said Dais, a social worker, was nominated for the award by the Inspiring Stories organisation who were “blown away” by what she had been able to achieve in her two years as their Future Leaders coach.

The recognition comes at a time when Dais is looking towards her own future. A three-week council-sponsored staff Outward Bound scholarship in March was a catalyst for decisions to pave her own way – and for Dais that means moving to the Cook Islands to connect with her roots and "do the same kind of mahi but be a bigger fish in a smaller pond".

"The saying is "burn the boat". I’ve got to figure out how to make it work."

Her work with youth in Palmerston North will be missed. Dais wears numerous hats in the community, as a Youth Space Youth Services Coordinator, the Inspiring Stories’ Future Leaders Coach, and she is on the Manawatu Young Chamber board and the Palmy Youth Network steering group. Even though her roles are service-based, Dais appreciates being able to work at ground level, “doing the mahi with the young people”.

The Future Leaders programme reflects the work of Youth Space, supporting rangatahi to be involved and create their own solutions in a co-design process. With Future Leaders Dais has facilitated the Try It Out Expo, the Inspire Hui, and PIT Stop (Palmy Interactive Tour). The events are about connecting young people to youth-friendly organisations and businesses who want to engage with young people.

"Connecting young people with the community, and the community with young people – that was the purpose in everything we did," says Dais.

Christian says Dais doesn’t take no for an answer. "If she wants to make something work, she’ll find the people, she’ll make it happen and get the people on board."

It’s all about connecting young people with services and youth champions.

We need more youth champions in our community to uplift and encourage young people to become the best version of themselves, so they can contribute more and feel a part of something.

Kiesha Dais