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On 9 August the weather was as bad as it gets in Porirua but a large audience turned up at the Elim church for the 2021 Primary Schools Leadership Awards.

This was a very complex event but it went off without a hitch under the close eye of its champion, Wendy Betteridge.

This is the seventh year the Awards have been celebrated, and the enthusiasm among the stakeholders continues to grow. Almost all primary schools in Porirua and Tawa take part (30 in all) and secondary school students are involved too, in various ways.

President Kay welcomed everyone, talked about the Rotary mission, and explained the history of the Awards and Rotary’s role in initiating them. Plimmerton, Porirua and Tawa clubs are involved.

Porirua College’s barbershop quartet, Hashtag, sang beautifully, and then the Mayor added to the welcome, noting the VIPs present and acknowledging the role of Rotary in the City. 

The presentations began under Deputy Mayor Izzy Ford’s fluent introductions. The students came up one school at a time, often in national dress; some were greeted by a haka from their classmates or teachers. 

Each school provided a citation for each award winner and the results were fascinating. In days gone by, academic or sporting prowess might have been dominant. Now the students were noted for their kindness, especially to younger students, their willingness to represent their peers, and their role modelling. As Rotarians, we should find this very encouraging.

Paula Williams of Porirua Rotary gave a wry account of her own background and explained how young people could benefit from Rotary programmes. She introduced Alejandro Garcia, head boy at Whitby Collegiate, who gave us the senior student’s perspective on leadership. Alejandro is very like our recent exchange student Cris Suarez, with his South American heritage and confident and charming manner. His talk was aimed squarely at the young award-winners, urging them not to compare themselves too much with others, and to persevere at all times. You can read the full text of his speech, here.

Judge Andrew Becroft took the stage and gave us his ‘T-shirt presentation”, which illustrates the qualities he has found in strong leaders. “Leaders do small things in a great way.”

Judge Becroft is stepping down from his role as Children's Commissioner shortly; he has been a great asset to the event in recent years.

Hashtag sang again to close the proceedings, and families queued to be photographed with their offspring. 

This was another first-class event, highly tuned, smoothly run, and certain to enhance the reputation of Rotary in the district. 

Bad weather but good vibes for our young leaders - 9 August 2021

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