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PM’s Pacific Youth Awards winners announced

Hon Hekia Parata

Minister of Pacific Island Affairs

10 October 2013 Media Statement
PM’s Pacific Youth Awards winners announced

Pacific Island Affairs Minister Hekia Parata says the Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards 2013 has continued to profile high-achieving young Pacific people.

“I am proud of New Zealand’s Pacific youth and their achievements. Today, we see 7 vibrant and committed young people awarded for their endeavours in leadership, creativity, and aspiring to use new technologies to benefit others. I am delighted that we have four winners in the Inspiration category,” says Ms Parata.

More than 100 young Pacific people applied for the awards. The awards were established in 2010 to inspire young Pacific people to reach their full potential.

The Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards are across four categories. The categories and winners are:

1. Cogita Inspiration Award – Edmond Fehoko, 23, Auckland; Elizabeth Moli, 24, Tauranga; Manatu Fia, 21, Otago; and, Mary Tiumalu, 23, Auckland.

2. University of Auckland Leadership Award – Ann-Helen Rasmussen, 24, Auckland

3. Vodafone NZ Foundation Mobiles4Good Award – Reina Vaai, 24, Auckland.

4. Weta Workshop Creativity Award – Aaron Unasa, 22, Auckland

“I congratulate all the winners and their families. I also thank the sponsors who have recognised the value of this initiative,” says Ms Parata


Note to Editor:

Notes to Editors:


The winners receive up to $6,000 in tuition fees at University of Auckland (Leadership Award), an aviation engineering course worth $7,400 from Air New Zealand (Innovation Award), a year’s paid internship at Weta Workshop (Creativity Award), an overseas trip/personal development worth up to $5000 from Cogita Business Systems (Inspiration) and $5,000 to upscale their use of technology for social good from Vodafone NZ Foundation (Mobiles4Good Award).

2013 Winners

1. Leadership Award (sponsored by The University of Auckland) – Ann-Helen Rasmussen

Ann-Helen Rasmussen, a 23 year-old Samoan-New Zealander who is currently completing a Bachelor of Education degree at the University of Auckland, was the top-achieving Pasifika student at the end of her second year (2013). She mentors individual students through the Tuakana-Tenia programme, and also helped initiate group sessions where she stressed the importance of work, study, church, sport and family life balance. She is an Auckland netball representative, the 2013 captain of the Rifles premier team, and a member of the Northern Mystics team which competed in the ANZ trans-Tasman netball competition. Ann-Helen intends to use her scholarship award to do post-graduate study at the University of Auckland to examine factors that cause Pasifika underachievement in education. She would like to find effective ways of helping teachers target students’ strengths and passions so they can reach their full potential.

2. Creativity Award (sponsored by Weta Workshop) – Aaron Unsasa

Aaron Unasa is a 22 year-old of Samoan and Cook Islands heritage. A 2013 graduate of the University of Auckland’s Elam School of Fine Arts, Aaron’s chosen genre is sculpture, and his series of works, Wear with Pride, won the Best Visual Communication Award at Elam in June this year. Aaron was invited to show his work at the Tautai Tertiary Exhibition 2012 and the Return to Sender exhibition in April 2013. He also works with arts collective The Roots, which aims to inspire and empower younger generations through arts-based community initiatives. His contribution ranges from mentoring Pacific arts students to curating an exhibition for the collective. An internship at Weta would help him marry his interest and skill set in sculpture with his passion for film.

3. Mobiles4Good Award (sponsored by Vodafone - Reina Vaai

Reina is a 24 year old Samoan-New Zealander from Manurewa who is a fifth year Law and Arts student at the University of Auckland. She has held various roles at the University, is a youth leader in her church, and co-founder of DJ and photography company MixxNPixx.

Reina has been a volunteer with the St Vincent de Paul Society, working with primary schools, women’s refuge and the City Mission. In her own church she was in charge of the youth choir, directed Christmas and Easter productions, and started a mentoring and tutoring group for families which could not afford to pay for extra tuition.

Reina wants to help young Pasifika people tell their story through mobile technology. With the sponsorship award she plans to buy video equipment and make mini-documentaries about young Pacific people. She also hopes to get some mentoring from Vodafone.

Please note: there are 4 winners for the Inspiration Award

4. Inspiration Award (sponsored by Cogita Business Systems) – Mary Tiumalu

Mary is a 22 year old Samoan-New Zealander in her fourth year of a conjoint law and arts degree at the University of Auckland. She is a teacher’s assistant for Maori and Pasifika students, specialising in helping those wishing to study Law with academic legal writing. Mary is also involved with the Pacific Island Law Students Association.

Last year she was instrumental with other PILSA members in setting up TULA’I (Together Using Law Against Injustice). She was significantly involved with Law in the Schools, a project which examines issues facing young Pasifika people and youth groups and provides informative seminars which entail fundamental legal rights.

Mary left Auckland Girls Grammar with the Chancellor’s Award for top Pacific student in her final year, and was deputy head girl.

5. Inspiration Award (sponsored by Cogita Business Systems) - Edmond Fehoko

Edmond is a 23 year-old Tongan-New Zealander currently studying for a Master’s degree in Social Sciences at the Auckland University of Technology, and hoping to advance to a PhD. He wants to help other young Pacific people move ahead without the struggle for identify he experienced. In his earlier years he was a gang affiliate, and says he was well on the way to becoming another Pacific crime statistic until his parents’ teaching and an opportunity to study turned him around.

His Ponsonby Tongan Methodist Church youth group is working with 17 other Methodist youth groups looking at young people’s issues, in particular youth suicide. He is also part of a Christian group that facilitates monthly workshops for Paremoremo prison inmates.

6. Inspiration Award (sponsored by Cogita Business Systems) - Manatu ‘Ofa Mei Vailahu Fia

Manatu is a 21-year-old Tongan-New Zealander who gained a B.Sc in anatomy from the University of Otago, where she is currently pursuing post-graduate study in psychology. She aims to become a clinical psychologist, developing interventions which help Pasifika people deal with mental illness.

She has recently applied to the Health Research Council for funding which will allow her to take part in a research project with Pacific toddlers and their parents, to understand the factors that affect Pacific toddlers’ socio-emotional wellbeing. Manatu is hoping to become one of the very few Pacific clinical psychologists in NZ.

7. Inspiration Award (sponsored by Cogita Business Systems) - Elizabeth Tuu Moli

Samoan-New Zealander Elizabeth (Liz) finished a conjoint degree in Law and Arts (English and French) from the University of Waikato in 2011. She then started work with the Pacific Island Community (Tauranga) Trust as an administrator, seeing the job as offering opportunities to get involved in the community. In July this year she moved into an Outpatient Support and Advocacy role in which she helps ensure Pacific patients receive the care they need, including supporting them at appointments if they ask. She has also helped set up workshops for local Pasifika on healthy eating and living.

Elizabeth is a volunteer at the Community Law Centre in Tauranga, and involved in a Pacific Advisory Group to the District Health Board. She helped set up and co-facilitates the Pasifika Ako Support Programme, an early intervention programme for girls at risk, at Tauranga Girls’ College, and uses her legal skills to help families at her church (Samoan Assembly of God) with immigration applications. She is also a church youth group leader.

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