6 Sep 2019

Okirano Tilaia: 'It's commonality that makes Aotearoa special'

From Afternoons with Jesse Mulligan, 1:26 pm on 6 September 2019

Christchurch high school student Okirano Tilaia is the first-ever Blake Youth Leader

Tilaia, who is headboy of Cashmere High School, led the local youth response to the mosque terror attacks of 15 March.

He hopes to study political science and international relations at university next year.

On his Blake Award:

"As a Pasifika, this award isn't only a win for myself but it's actually a win for my family, community and my country [Samoa]."

On Aotearoa New Zealand:

"Aotearoa is so diverse that we often look at what makes us different. but it's the commonalities we have that are so special."

On meeting Christchurch business leader Christopher Luxon:

"His story and his message was just amazing. You could see he was such a genuine person. He came up to me and was like 'here's my number, I'd love to take you out for a coffee'. For someone with that status and mana to come up to a young person such as myself, it actually means a lot to me."

Related: Headboy urges schools to attend vigil for mosque victims

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