The University of Auckland Young New Zealander of the Year 2020 Finalists

27 Jan 2020

The University of Auckland Young New Zealander of the Year 2020 finalists, from left, Tabby Besley, Fraser McConnell and Georgia Hale.
The University of Auckland Young New Zealander of the Year 2020 finalists, from left, Tabby Besley, Fraser McConnell and Georgia Hale.

Our judges have chosen three finalists aged 15 to 30 with passion and potential who strive to improve themselves, their communities and their nation.

Tabby Besley

Tabby Besley

Tabby Besley is the founder and Managing Director of InsideOUT, which helps rainbow youth to develop a sense of safety and belonging in their schools and communities.

In 2012, Tabby saw that hundreds of thousands of people around New Zealand were suffering isolation, discrimination and inequality due to their sexual orientation or gender identity.

InsideOUT creates queer-straight alliances within schools which brings together youth of all genders and orientations. The alliances normalise rainbow causes and build a community of united people. InsideOUT continues to expand its impact, recently launching a social enterprise arm that delivers rainbow inclusion training to schools, workplaces, community organisations and government agencies with income going back into supporting their youth programmes and resources for schools including radio shows, community events, resource packs, meetups and workshops.

Tabby’s impact on young people meant that, in 2015, she was the first New Zealander to receive a Queen’s Young Leader Award. She has also received a 2017 Vodafone Foundation World of Difference Award and has been a finalist for NEXT Woman of the Year (2017) and the Impact Awards, inclusion category (2019).

Tabby’s efforts to fight for equality, safety and community for rainbow youth touches thousands of people around the country. Through InsideOUT, she is creating a generation of youth who are empowered to reach their full potential.

Georgia Hale

Georgia Hale

Georgia Hale is a champion sportsperson who has represented New Zealand in four separate sports. She has used her sporting profile as a platform to a create huge community impact around New Zealand.

Georgia is one of the youngest-ever captains in New Zealand sport, captaining the Women’s Warriors Rugby League team when she was only 24. She has represented New Zealand in touch, tag, league nines and league thirteens.

Georgia has dedicated herself to supporting communities. She influences thousands of children by visiting schools around the country and teaching students how to live a healthy lifestyle. She has set up a number of community initiatives with the Warriors, including the Great Charity Day which raised more than $120,000 in its first two years. She has also set up a number of initiatives through her platform to help young children, rural communities, the intellectually disabled, and a wide range of other charities.

A role model to many, Georgia epitomises a Young New Zealander who is striving to better herself and the communities around her.

Fraser McConnell

Fraser McConnell

Fraser McConnell is the co-founder of Squawk Squad, a social enterprise that protects thousands of New Zealand native birds every year.

As an avid outdoorsman, Fraser was horrified to learn that 80 per cent of New Zealand’s bird species are threatened with extinction, largely due to introduced predators. Fraser asked the question, ‘How could we save as many birds as possible, while engaging as many New Zealanders as possible?’ Through this question, Squawk Squad was born.

Squawk Squad allows all New Zealanders to sponsor high-tech traps for conservation projects and sends them live notifications every time they trap a pest. Over 1000 New Zealanders are now involved and supporting conservation projects across New Zealand. Together, they have trapped more than 4,500 pests.

In a bid to raise further awareness of the environmental issues, Squawk Squad created a Digital Environmental Education Programme that is free for New Zealand students. To date, more than 45,000 students have participated in the programme, significantly raising awareness of the environmental issues across New Zealand as allowing students to take action in their local environment (eg planting trees, cleaning up beaches and reducing plastic in their lunch boxes).

Fraser is also a co-founder of Choice, a payments app addressing the issue that New Zealand merchants are paying $750 million in transaction fees every year. Paying with Choice instead of one’s bank card reduces this fee and redirects half of it to a charity of one’s choice.

Fraser is a New Zealand entrepreneur and Edmund Hillary Fellow. His initiatives continue to grow producing positive outcomes for New Zealanders.

Meet the 2020 University of Auckland Young New Zealander of the Year semi-finalists

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