Pacific youth encouraged to use awards to help tackle issues

posted: 10:30 am - 29th August 2019
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(Picture caption: Prime Minister Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern meets the 2019 Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Award winners ahead of the ceremony at Parliament, in Wellington.)  

Service and leadership are natural by-products of the prestigious Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards, staged at Parliament in Wellington. 

These awards encourage Pacific young people in Aotearoa to demonstrate these qualities, which in turn benefits Pacific communities around the country and abroad, Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon. Aupito William Sio says. 

Eleven young people across eight categories have been recognised for their contribution to society, at an event hosted by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) at Parliament, on August 27.

Minister Sio says he encourages these talented recipients to use this new platform to help the Ministry tackle the long-term problems facing New Zealand, and to give something back to their families and their communities who have supported their pursuits so far.

Prime Minister Rt Hon. Jacinda Ardern attended the ceremony to acknowledge and celebrate recipients for their exceptional contribution to academia, science, community and business.

“The Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards not only honours them and their families, but it will give them a platform to continue their exemplary work across Aotearoa, in our schools, our communities, our tertiary institutions and in businesses, and to become good role models for the next generation of youth leaders,” the Minister says.

“Each recipient is a symbol of the future I see for Pacific peoples in Aotearoa, a rising generation of Pacific people who are confident, thriving, and resilient. 

“These young people are effecting positive change that is helping to shape a New Zealand where Pacific people are prosperous and achieving wellbeing for their families.”

The 11 award recipients are part of a rising youthful Pacific population that is among the fastest growing in the country with a median age of 22 years.

The recent ceremony also recognises the people who have supported each award winner through their successes and achievements, and through the highs and lows.

"When we recognise young people at these awards, we also acknowledge their families and their respective communities that have helped to empower and support them,” Minister Sio says.

"Whatever path a young Pacific person is taking, they are standing on the shoulders of our Pacific elders and pioneers who have helped pave the way and opened doors towards new opportunities they can pursue.

“That's a beautiful heritage we should also acknowledge and not forget.”

PMPYA 2019

The 2019 Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Award winners are:  

  • International Scholar Award (sponsored by the Pacific Cooperation Foundation) - Sela Maka, 20, from Palmerston North and is of Tongan descent; 
  • Community Star Award (sponsored by Auckland Council) - Janelle Augsburg, 23, from Auckland and is of Tongan and European descent; 
  • Community Star Award (sponsored by Auckland Council) - Dejealous Sili Palota-Kopa, 23, from Auckland and is of Samoan descent;
  • Leadership and Inspiration Award(sponsored by Air New Zealand, supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade) - Okirana Tilaia, 17, from Christchurch and is of Samoan descent; 
  • Arts and Creativity Award (sponsored by Creative NZ and Massey University) - Manuha’apai Vaeatangitau, 21, from Auckland and is of Tongan descent; 
  • Language, Culture and Identity Award (sponsored by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples) - Louisa Vaeluaga, 22, from Auckland and is of Tokelauan and Tuvaluan decent; 
  •  STEM Award (sponsored by the Riddet Institute)- Eteroa Lafaele, 23, from Wellington and is of Samoan decent; 
  • STEM Award (sponsored by Fonterra) -Ioane Fiso, 18, from Wellington and is of Samoan and European descent;  
  • Business and Entrepreneurship Award (sponsored by Pacific Business Trust) - Keith Toma, 21, from Auckland and is of Niuean, Samoan, Tokelauan, Tongan and Tuvaluan descent; 
  • Business and Entrepreneurship Award(sponsored by Pacific Business Trust) - Alexia Hilbertidou, 20, from Auckland and is of Samoan and European descent; and 
  • Commercial and Corporate Award(sponsored by Deloitte) - Tupou Veiogo, 20, from Palmerston North and is of Fijian descent.