Sharnay Cocup has become a mini-celebrity in the North Waikato after receiving the Women of Influence Young Leader award.
Hearing the announcement was hard to believe for the 22-year-old Taupiri resident.
‘‘I went into shock straight away.
‘‘I got cold feet before going in, I got nervous, I started saying ‘what’s the point in me going?’ but I thought, I got nominated for a reason, and I’m representing my community, I still did not think I would get overall winner.’’
In their fifth year, the awards celebrate New Zealand women across 10 categories who have built on their personal and professional successes to help and inspire others. The awards are backed by Westpac and Fairfax Media (publisher of Stuff).
Cocup’s work has included establishing the Taupiri Youth Group which has put in countless hours of volunteering,
One of the major projects the group started was restoring the Taupiri Mountain walkway where they installed handrails, stairs and cleaned up a memorial site.
Cocup’s Nana Wairere DixonOrmsby accompanied her to the awards event in Auckland on September 7.
As one of her biggest fans, there was no doubt in her Nana’s mind that Cocup would win.
‘‘She said ‘prepare a speech’... I said no, I’m not going to win Nana.’’
Following the news, she was inundated with congratulations and requests for photos.
It was a night full of surprises as she was left in awe meeting for- mer Prime Minister Helen Clark who received a Lifetime Achievement award.
‘‘She’s pretty powerful and inspirational, I think of a lot of women look up to her, she’s iconic... [and] she so deserved that lifetime award.’’
The achievement follows her Kiwibank New Zealand Local Hero of the Year, Waikato Youth Volunteer of the Year and recipient of the Like a Boss category in the inaugural Waikato District Council Youth Awards.
Cocup said she was proud to be able to set an example for others.
‘‘It shows you that someone who started off with an idea and a passion can go on to be influential.’’
It’s her biggest achievement yet but her whole journey has been down to the community she was raised in.
Friends and family have always been influential for Cocup.
And it’s been the ‘‘best of both worlds’’ being able to learn from her fellow members on the Taupiri Community Board, Taupiri School board and from the kids in the Taupiri Youth Group she leads.