Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards encourage self-betterment

posted: 5:00 pm - 25th May 2019
eight col sione faletau

Being a recipient of a 2015 Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Award (PMPYA) has impacted Sione Faletau (pictured) positively over the past four years. 

In 2015, the New Zealand-born Tongan from South Auckland won the Arts and Creativity category at the awards, which recognise excellence and outstanding achievement by Pacific youth in Aotearoa.   

The awards are geared towards giving Pacific youth the opportunity to boost their future potential even higher, something Sione has found to be true for him.  

“Winning a PMPYA has benefitted me greatly because it created a platform for me to be an inspiration to the youth of today,” Sione says. 

After completing his secondary school education at Tangaroa College and then Otahuhu College in South Auckland, Sione went onto study at the University of Auckland and graduated with a Bachelors of Fine Arts (First Class Honours); and a Masters in Fine Arts (First Class Honours). 

He is currently completing his final year of his Doctorate of Fine Arts. 

“Being an award recipient has really encouraged me to be proud of who I am as a Pacific young male academic within the University’s Faculty of Fine Arts.

“It has impacted the work I do; and motivated me to maintain my integrity and highlight Pacific views, methodologies and ways of teaching Pacific art and history. 

Knowing how daunting the university environment can be, Sione began teaching and mentoring Fine Arts Pacific students, and has helped them make the transition from school to tertiary education a little easier. 

Sione currently is in Tonga, conducting field research on his PhD topic - Tongan masculinity from an indigenous perspective. 

“Following this data collection and analysis, I hope to use what I find in performance art and fine arts to create awareness and add to the body of knowledge around masculinity in the Pacific arena,” he says. 

Through his PhD research, Sione also aims to gain a better understanding on how Pacific people construct masculinities, and seeing how masculinity will be in the future. 

“It is also learning about what makes us unique in our masculinities,” he explains.

“There are indigenous knowledge systems and ways of doing things that can add to our lives in the modern era. 

“The research scopes out two areas of focus mainly because it is a comparative study on Tongan masculinity in Tonga and Tongan masculinity in New Zealand.” 

Sione will look at the masculinities in these two spheres and find the connectedness in these two environments. 

“This is my way of giving back to the Pacific in New Zealand and in the region.” 

The Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) has recently opened applications for the 2019 PMPYA, and for anyone considering applying or nominating a young person for the PMPYA, Sione says to go for it. 

“It can change your life – it has certainly changed mine in a positive way and I hope to reciprocate that through my education of Fine Arts at tertiary level.” 

The initiative allows you to meet new people as well as opening doors to all sorts of amazing opportunities including teaching, travelling, and the chance to continue learning. 

Most importantly, it has allowed Sione to identify and relate to other Pacific students who share the same upbringing as him, he says. 

“I hope to inspire our young Pacific people to further their studies and reach for the top. 

“There are no limits to what you can do.” 

Applications for the 2019 PMPYA will open soon - keep an eye on Facebook and the MPP website for updates.