Samoan Young New Zealander of the Year finalist

Samoan climate change activist Brianna Fruean has made the final for a Young New Zealander of the Year award.

The final decisions to be made at the end of the month.

Ms. Fruean was picked as semi-finalist among a long-list of ten young women making their mark in New Zealand in their own way.

She is being honoured for her work in the environmental and climate change sector, starting from when she was just 11 years old and helped found local chapter of 350.org, a global activist group.

Ms. Fruean has represented Samoa on the international climate change negotiations stage from age 14, attending United Nations conferences, joining the Pacific Regional Environment Programme and organising School Strike 4 Climate marches.

As a young woman from Samoa, she speaks out on how the rapidly deteriorating state of the planet is putting young islanders at risk, and urges the global leadership to act.

Earlier this year she told the Samoa Observer that just to be nominated was an honour in itself.

“It’s something you see on TV and you never imagine you being nominated for it,” she said.

“There are five million people in this country and to be a Samoan, whose grandparents emigrated here from the islands, to know that I am recognised and appreciated as part of the New Zealand fabric I think is a testament to my parents, making sacrifices to come here when I was born.”

Also up for Young New Zealander of the Year are Dr. Zhiyan Basharti and Jazz Thornton.

Dr. Basharti grew up in a Kurdish refugee camp and moved to New Zealand with her family when she was 11 years old. 

Today she is a forensic psychologist and refugee and migrant advocate, and worked at the frontlines of the Christchurch mosque attack helping victims with translation and legal support in the aftermath of the tragedy.

Ms. Thornton is a survivor of attempted suicide and abuse and has become a mental health activist, with two books and several films to her name telling stories of survivors.

She co-founded the suicide prevention organisation Voices of Hope, and received the Commonwealth Points of Light award from the Queen of England for her efforts.

Last year’s  Young New Zealander of the Year was Georgia Hale, a champion athlete and one of the youngest-ever captains in rugby when she became the Women’s Warriors Rugby League team captain at age 24. 

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