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Pair of young New Zealanders recognised by the Queen for their efforts in areas of gender equality and mental health


Two young Kiwis have been royally recognised for their efforts to address gender inequality and youth suicide.

The pair received the Queen’s Young Leaders Award at Buckingham Palace. Source: 1 NEWS

The pair received the Queen's Young Leaders Award at a ceremony in Buckingham Palace overnight.

"I was absolutely beaming – so much so that afterwards, David Beckham actually came up to me and said, 'You had the biggest smile of all the Queen's young leaders.' I was like, 'Yes'. It was amazing," recipient Alexia Hilbertidou said.

The other recipient Ezekiel Raui says he was "speechless" and receiving the award was a "life changing moment".

"She [The Queen] was complimenting me first on my korowai and how important she sees culture in New Zealand," Mr Raui said.

Ms Hilbertidou, 19, is the youngest recipient of the Young Leaders Award this year.

The teenager started up Girlboss New Zealand - an outfit helping women break the employment glass ceiling.

"I want New Zealand to be the first country in the world for women to reach full gender equality," she said.

Mr Raui, meanwhile, is passionate about youth mental health issues.

"My aim is to hit and to target zero suicide within New Zealand," he said.

The pair are also sharing their passion with the Duke and Duchess of Sussex who were at the awards.

"I told them that currently, there's more CEOs named John on the New Zealand stock exchange than CEOs who are women and Prince Harry pulled a really shocked face and said, 'Is that true really?' and he said, 'That's definitely got to change,'" Ms Hilbertidou said.

Today is the fourth and final year of the Queen's Young Leaders Awards.

There has been 60 recipients a year since 2014 - one for every year the Queen had been head of the Commonwealth at the time of her diamond jubilee.