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Emerging leader giving back to community

Published: 13 September 2022

Jemma Russell Annie Aranui Scholarship Winner 2022

Napier Social worker Jemma Russell, 2022 Annie Aranui Scholarship winner

Jemma Russell is the first Napier recipient of the Annie Aranui Scholarship, aimed at enabling and supporting young mana wāhine to develop their careers in the public sector. 

Jemma Russell, 24, who is a social worker, works with rangatahi in her role with a community-based service provider.

“I enjoy the young people, what they share with me, the journey they’ve been on, their strength and courage to keep going,” she explains.

Jemma has been working in her organisation for two years. “It’s my first job out of study. I’ve learnt a lot and I’ve had a few laughs as well.

“You never know what’s going to come up, something might crop up, so you drop everything and respond. Most days, it’s about the small wins with our clients, celebrating wins when they have them, walking alongside them.”

The Annie Aranui scholarship is designed to help enable people between 18 and 24 who work in the public sector including central and local government, iwi-owned organisations and community focused non-government organisations to undertake professional development.

Jemma plans to use the scholarship to go on an Outward Bound course in early 2023 focused on women in leadership for current and aspiring leaders.

“It will take me outside my comfort zone, challenge me. I’ll learn new things. It’ll be a bit like my current role, it’s been a big learning for me,” says Jemma. “Social work is so broad and you can work with such a range of people. I love people, being with people, listening to them and being alongside them with whatever they are going through.”

The scholarship was set up in 2021 in memory of Annie Aranui who was the Ministry of Social Development Regional Commissioner for Hawke’s Bay and Tairāwhiti. Annie served in the public sector for more than 36 years and her service was recognised with the New Zealand Public Service Medal in 2020.   

“I am very grateful, for what this can provide me and for my career prospects,” says Jemma. “I have a long career ahead of me, how I learn from this opportunity and how it helps develop my skills will be an amazing experience, for my career and for me as a person.”

The scholarship is administered by the Hawke’s Bay Youth Futures Trust, which is made up of Hastings District Council, Napier City Council, MSD, EIT, Te Whatu Ora and independent representatives from Tumu, Furnware and The Development Hub. 

Trust Chair, James Truman says, “The trust is happy to be able to support Jemma on her leadership journey and we are looking forward to hearing how this opportunity assists her in her community work.”

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