11 Jan 2022

Vira Paky wins the Gary Ware Legacy Award for human rights

Vira Paky wins the Gary Ware Legacy Award for human rights

Congratulations to Vira Paky, winner of the Gary Ware Legacy Award for Human Rights 2021! 

Vira is an award-winning poet, playwright, writer, community activist, and Chairperson of the New Zealand National Refugee Youth Council. With this $4,000 award and the support of Amnesty International New Zealand, Vira plans to set up a new way to identify, document and release research on the mental health of people who’ve sought refuge and who are now residing in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Paky says the award will help her give life to an idea she has been fostering for some time. "It is my hope that by undertaking this project I can create a space where resettled young people can talk openly about their experiences with mental distress. By actively listening to our marginalised communities, we can better understand the refugee youth experience and what can be done better to support their settlement as first-generation New Zealanders."

The award is all thanks to the generosity of the Ware family, who created the award via the Acorn Foundation as a lasting legacy of Gary Ware, who was a passionate human rights advocate throughout his lifetime. 

Margaret Taylor, Community Manager at Amnestiy International Aotearoa NZ says, "Gary was part of the Amnesty International Tauranga group for four decades. Nothing was too small or too great for him. He is missed and we are deeply grateful to Gary and the Ware family for gifting this award. It’s humbling coming from a family full of rights advocates steeped in NZ history. This award offers a powerful youth empowerment opportunity in New Zealand. And it shows just how meaningful a single bequest can be. This really is a beautiful lasting legacy of Gary’s life."

Gary Ware (1938 - 2018)

Gary was a passionate human rights advocate who supported Amnesty International throughout his life.

Gary loved music, and organised many concerts and events to raise awareness and funds for human rights.

He served multiple terms on the Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand Board, helping the organisation to become a strong campaigning force in NZ and globally.

Gary was also co-leader of the Amnesty International Tauranga Moana Group, a group that wrote thousands of letters on behalf of prisoners of conscience.


Find out more about the Gary Ware Legacy Award and how to apply for 2022 on Amnesty International Aotearoa New Zealand's website: here.


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