Prime Minister recognises Pacific Youth Excellence

Nine Pacific 17-24 year olds, who have achieved excellence in commerce, the arts, sports, community and leadership, were recognised for their important contribution to the country at the prestigious 2018 Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards at the Falo O Samoa in Mangere on March 28. LAUMATA LAUANO reports

 

 

The Fale o Samoa in Mangere was abuzz with warm Pacific excellence as political figures, religious and community leaders, other dignitaries and proud families gathered to celebrate high achieving Pacific youth in New Zealand.

 

Pacific Peoples Minister Aupito William Sio says the awards provide a unique opportunity for Pacific youth in New Zealand to be recognised for their important contribution to the country by the Prime Minister, Hon. Jacinda Ardern.

 

Each recipient celebrated was announced by proud sponsors for the award they would receive. Their future goals, spoken by themselves via a prerecorded interview, played to the guests of Fale o Samoa as they accepted their award from the Hon. Jacinda Ardern.

 

 

As each winner spoke, their acceptance speeches filled with humility and mixed with excitement and gratitude.

 

The exceptional individuals excelled in each of their own fields in a way that would require nothing but the utmost determination, passion and skill.

 

Lupesina Koro, a Samoan/Tokelauan, who took out the Ako Aotearoa STEM Award, is in her 2nd year of a conjoint degree in engineering and commerce. The Auckland Council Community Star Award recipient Teri Tuuau has been a member of the Manurewa Youth Council, Youth Parliament and took part in the United Nations Youth Declaration, all the while studying Law at the University of Auckland, now in her 4th year.

 

The Pacific Cooperation Foundation International Scholar Charlie Sofe won Top Scholar Award at Canterbury University (where he studies engineering) for the past two years. He loves tutoring Pacific engineering students and eventually wants to set up an engineering firm in Samoa with plans to one day expand to New Zealand.

 

 

These were just a few.

 

“It’s my expectation that these recipients, and all those who have gone before, contribute to making New Zealand a far better and caring country for all New Zealanders,” says Aupito William Sio.

 

“Each of their respective awards recognises their contribution to society, as well as excellence in their academic work, or by demonstrating a skill in business.

 

The Prime Minister, who was appropriately running on island time, congratulated the recipients and thanked them for their hard work.

 

She left them with a paraphrasing of a quote she had once heard herself,

 

"No one knows what it's like to be a young Pacific person like you do. Never diminish the importance of your voice, because not many people have it."

 



The full list of 2018 Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Award winners:


Air New Zealand - Leadership and Inspiration Award (supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade)
- Asena Tolungamaka, 23, studying law is of Tongan descent, from Auckland.


Ako Aotearoa - STEM Award
- Lupesina Koro, 18, studying a conjoint Engineering and Commerce degree of Samoan and Tokelauan descent, from Auckland.


Auckland Council - Community Star Award
-Teri Tuuau, 22, studying law is of Samoan descent, from Auckland.


BNZ - Commercial and Corporate Award (supported by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples)
- Hazel Umaga, 24, studying business is of Cook Island, Maori and Samoan descent, from Auckland.


Creative New Zealand and Massey University - Arts and Creativity Award
- John Belford-Lelaulu, 24, an architect who owns the social design business MAU Studio is of Samoan descent, from Auckland.


Deloitte - Business and Entrepreneurship Award
- Taylor McDonald, 21, completing a conjoint degree in business and design of Samoan and Maori descent, from Auckland;


New Zealand Institute of Sport - Sports and Fitness Award
- Monique Lawrence, 19, fitness student of Samoan descent, from Auckland.


New Zealand Institute of Sport - Sports and Fitness Award
- Elena Euese, 19, fitness student of Samoan descent, from Auckland.


Pacific Cooperation Foundation – International Scholar Award
- Charlie Sofe, 21, engineering student studying in Christchurch is from Samoa.