Youth success as twins overcome whānau drama

Mahalia (left) and Naomi Edwardson sort through paper-work before leaving for the Pacific International Hotel School supported by their “so cool” Youth Navigator, Lynelle Riley.

Former Taradale High School students, 17-year-old twins, Mahalia and Naomi Edwardson are keen to make their mark on the hospitality industry and are in their first semester at the renowned Pacific International Hotel School (PIHMS) in New Plymouth. Both are adamant their journey to the west coast was made possible thanks to advocate and “easiest adult to talk to,” Lynelle Riley, Te Kupenga Hauora – Ahuriri Youth Navigator.

Mahalia (left) and Naomi Edwardson sort through paper-work before leaving for the Pacific International Hotel School supported by their “so cool” Youth Navigator, Lynelle Riley.

18 months ago the girls were faced with some challenges. Their school counsellor connected them with Lynelle and they glady took the support. Lynelle was able to help them
move forward by arranging financial support, driver licensing support and acting as a sounding board and mentor as Mahalia and Naomi juggled school, employment and changing living situations. Both appreciate how easy she is to work with and describe her as “so cool.” “She helped us set goals and give us something to aim for which was really helpful,” says Mahalia. “We have enjoyed working with Lynelle (and others). It’s a good atmosphere here, good people and great support,” adds Naomi.

Lynelle’s knowledge of the wide range of help available to tap into means that the girls were able to make their Pacific International Hotel School dream a reality, securing funding towards course fees and living costs. Naomi is focusing on hotel management while at this stage, Mahalia is drawn to the culinary arts. Lynelle is confident they have got what it takes to succeed. “With all they’ve gone through they are the most grounded girls. They are amazing.”