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Duke of Ed Award participant supporting local Marae during lockdown


As we clock up almost six weeks in lockdown, positive stories continue to come in of the amazing activities Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award participants are doing around the country to support their communities.

Duke of Ed participant Alex Bengston, who is from Rahotu and attends Opunake High School, is collecting watercress from his family farm and delivering it in a contactless way to Parihaka Marae.  Alex is doing this for the Voluntary Service section of his Award.

“I have enjoyed getting out and doing something different during lockdown,” says Alex. “I have been picking watercress twice a week and will continue until I go back to school at this stage”.

Alex is doing his Award through Taranaki Outdoors Pursuits and Education Centre (TOPEC). Any student in the Taranaki region can sign up to do their Award through TOPEC.

“Being in isolation isn’t stopping our determined young people from carrying on with their Duke of Ed Award activities and maintaining their well-being,” says National Director Karen Ross.

“The key aim of the Award is to help young people build resilience, problem solving skills and self-confidence. I can’t think of anything we need more than these crucial life skills during this testing time”.

The Duke of Edinburgh’s Hillary Award is the New Zealand branch of the world’s leading youth development award with over 1.3 million young people taking part worldwide.  Over 18,000 young New Zealanders are currently participating in the Award programme.

"We’ve been amazed at the initiative many are showing during the COVID-19 crisis to continue their Award in new and creative ways while at home.  The Award’s role in contributing to community recovery and confidence cannot be under-estimated.  The experience young people gain to navigate life and the impact they have on their communities will be needed more than ever," ends Karen.


For further information and comment, please contact:

Karen Ross – National Director

Ph:       027 645 6696                          



For information on doing your Award through TOPEC, contact:

Grover Worsfold

Tel: 021 0431 884



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