17 year old Stacey Reiri, from Masterton, is feeling on top of the world. Thanks to sheer determination and a collaborated effort between Universal College of Learning (UCOL) staff across campuses, Stacey was selected as one of five recipients to be chosen for the Rewi Alley youth delegation to China for 12 days in July this year.
The part scholarship, offered through the New Zealand China Friendship Society funds $2,000 and gives students the opportunity to gain a deeper understanding and awareness of Rewi Alley. He was the most influential foreigner in China in the 20th century and partly responsible for forging the relationship between China and New Zealand. The trip takes them on a journey to places that were of great significance to Rewi's legacy including attendance at a youth workshop to be held at Lanzhou City University.
"I had done some research on Rewi and was inspired by how one man could do so much for a country. Especially being a New Zealander, he blew everyone away with what he was capable of," says Stacey. "He is a hero."
Dave Bromwich, National President of the New Zealand China Friendship recalls receiving Staceys application, saying "her enthusiasm stood out. It's good to see a young person with a strong representation of her culture be part of the delegation."
All over China there have been commemorations honouring Rewi and the legacy he left behind, 2017 marks his 90th anniversary for arriving in China, his 120th birth anniversary and his 30th death anniversary.
Stacey was intrigued by the determination of Rewi, he played a significant role in leading reform and improving the lives of many children which resonated deeply with Stacey who is currently completing a National Certificate in Early Childhood Education and Care at UCOL Wairarapa.
Having faced many obstacles herself in her young years, Stacey had been affected by serious ongoing health issues from the age of 13 which had impacted on her ability to remain at school. Her goal has always been to help others and while she thought nursing would be the way to go, her dream soon changed as she discovered through a youth guarantee programme that working with children was where she was meant to be.
"I'm really passionate about children, I'd like to be an advocate for children and Māori women one day," she says.
For now Stacey is revelling in the news of recieving the scholarship, planning on learning a bit of Mandarin and graduating in July. The part funding means Stacey will also be fundraising to come up with any additional funds needed towards the trip.
"I'm really thrilled, my whole family is happy.. we've been through so much lately; this is the best news ever."