NZ Prime Minister Facebooks from PM Pacific Youth Awards; Recognising Excellence

Wow. This is the Prime Minister’s own Facebook Live stream from her phone at tonight’s awards. How many Prime Ministers do you know can do Facebook Live ?

Nine exceptional individuals, aged between 17 and 24 years old, will be presented an Award by the Prime Minister at a ceremony held at the Fale o Samoa, in Auckland’s electorate of Mangere, hosted by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples.

“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,” Aupito William Sio says.

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

“The Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards recognises and celebrates Pacific youth success while also creating a network of young emerging Pacific leaders, showcasing Pacific talent to key stakeholders.

As one of the fastest growing and youngest populations in New Zealand, the Government is committed to ensuring the Pacific community thrives and to help individuals achieve their goals and aspirations.


Wrapping up the Pacific Youth Awards!

Posted by Jacinda Ardern on Tuesday, 27 March 2018


The 2018 award winners have also been offered personalised leadership development opportunities through the Ministry’s partnership with Leadership New Zealand.

“I want to grow the next crop of Pacific leaders who are not only achieving excellence in their respective fields, but who are also prepared to give back to their community and hold fast to their heritage of languages and culture.

“Being a recipient of the Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards not only makes their families and communities extremely proud and empowered, but it opens new doors for them, while offering new opportunities for their careers and lives.

“Congratulations to all the winners tonight and to your families for providing support.  We are all incredibly proud of what you have achieved,” Aupito William Sio says.

The 2018 Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Award recipients are:

Air New Zealand – Leadership and Inspiration Award
(supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade)

Asena Tolungamaka, aged 23 years old, Auckland University.

Week long internship at the NZ Embassy East West Post in Honolulu, Hawaii. Flights, accommodation, and daily allowance included.

Asena Tolungamaka, from Favona, is studying law at Auckland University. During a 2017 summer internship at Auckland Council, Asena, who is of Tongan descent, shadowed the Auckland Mayor Phil Goff and Councillor Faanana Efeso Collins.  This included attending committee meetings. She gained a lot of experience and insight from that internship.

Asena helped to set up Navigators of Success and Navigators Pasifika and Maori Success Stories. She was a speaker at the Pathways, Circuits and Crossroad Conference hosted by the Human Rights Commission. She mentors students in the Chancellors Award for Top Pacific and Maori Scholars and she also serves as a Pacific ambassador at the University of Auckland.

She hopes to use the Air New Zealand internship to gain a better understanding of diplomatic events and leadership and for the benefit of the Pacific community.  Asena is on a mission to become the first Pacific female Prime Minister.

Ako Aotearoa – STEM Award

Lupesina Koro, aged 18 years old, Auckland University.

$10,000 paid internship where she is enrolled

The former St Mary’s College head girl, Lupesina, who is of Samoan and Tokelauan descent, is in her 2nd year studying a conjoint degree in engineering and commerce at the University of Auckland. She is a student representative for the South Pacific Indigenous Engineering Students (SPIES) and the Auckland University Pacific Island Students Association.

Lupesina is also involved in the St Vincent de Paul mentoring programme helping high school students on a monthly basis.  Her long-term goal is to pursue research and higher education in engineering.   This Ako Aotearoa award will be used to help Lupesina achieve that.

Auckland Council – Community Star Award

Teri Tuuau, 22 years old, Auckland University

3 month paid internship to the value of $10,000


Since migrating from Samoa 14 years ago, Teri, who comes from Manurewa, is in her fourth year at Auckland University Law School.  She is an active member of Auckland University’s Pacific Island Law Students Association, Movement and MALOSI. She is a member of the Manurewa Youth Council, participated in the 2013 Youth Member of Parliament. She has been involved in a number of community activities and programmes including the Counties Manukau Health and Ko Awatea “Handle the Jandal’ Campaign.

Outside of study, she is a dancer for Mbrace Pacific Dance.  Her goal for her Auckland Council internship is to gain insight into how community issues are addressed effectively for our Pacific people.

BNZ – Commercial and Corporate Award (supported by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples)

Hazel Umaga, aged 24 years old, Auckland University of Technology (AUT)


$5,000 contribution and 3-month summer internship



Hazel Umaga is of Cook Island, Samoan and Maori descent. She is in her final year at AUT studying towards a business degree. She made the honours roll and was awarded an accounting scholarship.

Hazel served a two year church mission and currently volunteers as the primary president for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in the Otara area. She works with a volunteer team of 17 primary teachers. She is looking at a career in finance and business. She is keen see how her BNZ support and internship at the Ministry for Pacific Peoples can open doors into this field.

Creative New Zealand and Massey University – Arts and Creativity Award

John Belford-Lelaulu, aged 24 years old, is an architect who owns the social design business MAU Studio.

$10,000 to fund internship/residency/study/project


From the Auckland suburb of Sandringham, John Belford-Lelaulu is one of 10 children born to Samoan migrant parents who arrived in New Zealand in the 1950s.

In 2015, he was the top student of in the Year 5 Master of Architecture programme. He was the project lead on the Mobile Education Facilities for New York’s homeless community and set up his own social design business called MAU Studio. His business uses design to enhance family well-being and address poverty, racial and gender inequality and environmental challenges.

John will use this Creative New Zealand and Massey University award to assist with the rollout of his 2nd business the MAU Support System that works with secondary and tertiary students to create responses to humanitarian challenges affecting Pasifika communities.


Deloitte – Business and Entrepreneurship Award

Taylor McDonald, 21 years old, Auckland University of Technology (AUT)

$10,000 paid internship


Taylor McDonald is of Samoan and Maori descent and hails from Panmure, Auckland. The honours student for the last two years running, she is completing a double cojoint degree in business and design.  With an A- grade average, she ismajoring in marketing and User Interface/User Experience design.

During her Deloitte internship Taylor wants to increase her knowledge of User Experience and human-centred design given her passion following digital and technological trends.

New Zealand Institute of Sport – Sports and Fitness Award

Monique Lawrence, aged 19 years old, fitness student, from Auckland.

$6,000 for one year of tuition fees and course related costs


Involved with sports such as Aussie tag, this award will help Monique, who is of Samoan descent, to progress towards her career goals to become a secondary school physical education teacher and an English teacher. She is keen to work in schools with a high Pacific population.  Originally from Otahuhu, Monique moved back to Auckland from Christchurch to take up for new opportunities.

New Zealand Institute of Sport – Sports and Fitness Award

Elena Euese, aged 19 years old, fitness student, from Auckland

$6,000 for one year of tuition fees and course related costs


Raised in Auckland’s Avondale, Elena, who is of Samoan descent, has a passion for sport. She was part of the Avondale College Sport Academy last year where she coached basketball and played Tag for Auckland at the Nationals.  Juggling part-time work and attending school, she studied during her work breaks to help her family.
Her future goal is to use this award to help her prepare for Police College.  She hopes to graduate from Police College and make her family and community proud.

Pacific Cooperation Foundation – International Scholar Award
Charlie Sofe, aged 21 years old, Canterbury University



Samoan-born and bred Charlie Sofe is an engineering student at Canterbury University. For the last two years, he has been awarded Canterbury University’s Top Scholar Award. This is his four year studying in New Zealand away from his family in Samoa.

Charlie loves tutoring Pacific engineering students during semester and tutoring Pacific secondary school students during their holiday programmes. His success is watching them ‘get it’.

His long term goal is to use these funds to help set up an engineering firm in Samoa, once he finishes a postgraduate qualification in civil engineering. He plans to do this with his brother who holds a Masters in Civil Engineering. He hopes to expand their firm into New Zealand one day, once he has set it up, to provide employment opportunities for Pacific people.

Post Author: Pacific EyeWitness

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