Inaugural Pacific Cooperation Foundation Youth Leadership Awards
The Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) announced the winners for its Inaugural Pacific Cooperation Foundation Youth Leadership Awards at Parliament on Wednesday.
The awards ceremony was hosted by the Hon Aupito William Sio, Minister for Pacific Peoples and Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs.
PCF lead/management consultant Afamasaga Jackie Curry said, “The aim of the PCF Youth Leadership Awards is to encourage and reward service leadership to benefit our communities not just in Aotearoa New Zealand, but also the Pacific region.
“Pacific people are a growing, youthful and diverse population both in New Zealand and in the Pacific region, so these awards acknowledge and encourage the contribution and achievements of our young Pacific emerging leaders as well as their families who support them,” Afamasaga said.
“These exemplary youth leaders have demonstrated excellence in their fields, will in turn use their leadership abilities and skills to help give back to their communities and assist in tackling the many complex issues and challenges being faced in the Pacific region, especially in light of the effects of Covid on regional economies.
“There are ten award official award categories in total, with five awards specially set aside for Pacific students from the Pacific region studying in New Zealand, which is the special point of difference about Pacific Cooperation Foundation’s Pacific Youth Leadership Awards.
The awards bring greater awareness and appreciation by the people and communities of the Pacific Islands and New Zealand, of their shared Pacific identify, history and culture, as well as a shared destiny,” Afamasaga said.
The 10 official award categories and winners are:
- PCF Pioneer Award - Sponsored by the Pacific Business Hub - Gibson Gala
- PCF Profit with Purpose Award - Sponsored by WE Accounting - Minnie Kalo Voi
- PCF Le Afi Pasifika Creativity Award - Sponsored by Pacific Media Network - Hella Rore
- Top Pacific NZ Scholar Award - Sponsored by Code Avengers - Vensel Margraff (Highly Commended Tiotio-Maximo Lockington)
- Top Pacific STEM Scholar Award - Sponsored by Code Avengers – Hella Rore
- PCF Young Pasifika Female of Influence Award - Sponsored by Ministry for Women - Sana Ditta
- PCF Young Pasifika Male of Influence Award - Sponsored by Victoria University of Wellington – Leki Jackson-Bourke (Highly Commended Mose Tanielu)
- PCF Health Ambassador Award - Sponsored by Pacific Health Plus - Dr Brittany Stanley-Wishart (Highly Commended - Emmerson Toomaga)
- PCF Sport Ambassador Award – Sponsored by Fiso Investment Group – First equals Lyric Faleafaga and Dhys Faleafaga (sisters)
- PCF Top Pasifika Cultural and Language Advocate Award – Sponsored by Ministry for Pacific People - Leulua’iali’i Satuala Tofaeono Tanuvasa
The PCF also awarded two special awards:
- PCF Supreme Award for Pacific Youth Advocacy – Sponsored by the Pacific Cooperation Foundation - Aigagalefili Fepulea'i Tapua'i
- The PCF Supreme for Inclusion – Sponsored by the Pacific Cooperation Foundation - Shaneel Lal
.Notes to Editors
The 2020 Inaugural Pacific Cooperation Youth Leadership Award winners are:
PCF Pioneer Award
Sponsored by the Pacific Business Hub
Gibson hails from Papua New Guinea and has 15 years’ experience in youth leadership at the local, regional, and international level. Gibson is currently studying towards his Masters in Disaster Risk Resilience at the University of Canterbury. These programs are sponsored by MFAT.
He represented Pacific youth at the Asia Pacific Youth Parliament for Water, One Young World Summit, Inaugural Global Intergenerational SEN Summit 2013, Kizuna Youth Program, Australia Pacific Greenpeace Volunteers, 350 Pacific, Youth Against Corruption, University of Canterbury PNG Students, 2014 World Youth Conference, UNESCO World Heritage Pacific Youth Project, University of PNG, and Pacific SIDS Youth. In addition, Gibson has served as the Pacific Regional Focal Point for United Nations Major Group of Children and Youth (UNMGCY). Through this leadership role, he represented children and youth in the Pacific Region for the Post-2015 Development Agenda consultative process from 2013 - 2015.
Following graduating from the University of Papua New Guinea, Gibson worked with a number of local and international organisations by the likes of United Nations (UN), international non-government organisations, International Organisations for Migration (IOM), faith based organisations, and global green growth institute in different capacities. He has worked in the area of youth activism, capacity building, leadership development, grassroots community engagement, humanitarian and disaster emergency, climate change, rural and international development in the Pacific region.
Given his background in rural life, and given his experiences, skills and knowledge he attained along the way, he continues to work with local and international organisations, and serves as an advisor to Government in PNG.
PCF Profit with Purpose Award
Sponsored by WE Accounting
Minnie Kalo Voi
From the culturally, ethnically and geographically diverse country of Papua New Guinea, Minnie Kalo Voi is a second-year student in the Bachelor of Business Management and Economics at Massey University. She is the recipient of the prestigious MFAT scholarship award 2019 and is employed part time by Kiwi Properties as a Customer Service Representative in Palmerston North.
Minnie adopted one of her younger sister’s Leata, aged 16, to give her an opportunity to receive a quality education abroad as she is a firm believer that it is critical that high priority is given to education for all citizens, and especially for girls, given the transitional role they can play in this society and in contributing to sustainable economic growth. Given much of Pacific women’s employment is informal (subsistence agriculture/marketing of agriculture products and petty trading), insecure and largely unregulated, Minnie believes that when women and girls are supported in their knowledge and skills, they become empowered in decision making in their homes by taking control over their earnings to meet family needs, they raise stable and secure families who will contribute positively to their communities.
Minnie stresses that being the first of six siblings (5 girls and 1 boy) living with their mother, she learnt women empowerment and leadership by service and dedication at home. She recalls starting to leverage strong interpersonal skills, learning to collaborate with siblings, develop and utilise organisational skills with house chores, increased discipline where necessary; define and coordinate new activities – all from home. These disciplines and values instilled at an early age have evolved into several ground-breaking leadership accomplishments including the First Pacific Islander as Massey University Student Association Welfare Executive-elect Role (incoming 2021); First Pacific Islander Rotaract President Elect 2021 Manawatu area (need to confirm this); First Melanesian President of Massey University Pasifika Students Association (MUPSA) 2019 (outgoing).
Minnie aspires to be a woman representative in Parliament one day and reiterates a quote by Pico Iyer who once said, “The beauty of any first time is that it leads to a thousand others”.
PCF Le Afi Pasifika Creativity Award
Sponsored by Pacific Media Network
PCF Top Pacific STEM NZ Scholar award
Sponsored by Code Avengers
Hella Rore is an ambitious young Melanesian woman hailing from the Solomon Islands. She is currently studying towards her Bachelor in Construction majoring in Quantity Surveying at Massey University in the hope of acquiring the skills needed to assist her country in infrastructure, development, and to set a ripple effect of character building and goals to other young people, which covers a large proportion of the Solomon Islands population.
Hella is also interning at Naylor Love, New Zealand’s top performing, largest privately owned commercial construction company serving New Zealand since 1910. Leading to her current status, she has been involved in youth charitable organisations programmes such as leadership, communication and creative art workshops, as well as volunteering at a religious radio station and participating in event planning for charitable causes.
Hella believes her way of giving back to her community is to pay it forward by sharing and utilising the skills and knowledge that she has obtained with her fellow countrymen. She is inspired by architectural designs, art and motivational success stories.
In her spare time, Hella loves fresh air, socialising, and music, and the value of balance and family is of great importance to her. Her hope is to become a leader in the construction industry for Pacific women, and to contribute to the use of best practice systems in her country. She is grateful for Pacific Cooperation Foundation and the New Zealand Government, providing the bridge to opportunities for Pacific countries and equipping them to achieve their goals. Hella proudly represents her family, country and region to encourage working together in building each other up. “No Man is an Island” – John Donne
PCF Top Pacific NZ Scholar Award
Sponsored by Code Avengers
Born and raised in Samoa, Vensel Margraff is a high achiever who has consistently excelled throughout his educational journey to serving as a leader in his Pacific community and Engineering field.
In 2016, he was awarded head-boy and Dux of Robert Louis Stevenson College. The following year he was announced as the top national student for the foundation year at the National University of Samoa. Subsequently he was awarded an international scholarship under New Zealand MFAT to study a Bachelor of Civil Engineering with Honours at the University of Auckland.
Awarded the top first year SPIES award for Engineering he was subsequently inducted into Lalava Scholars, an ambassador’s program under the Pacific Pro Vice Chancellor. He continues his passion for academics by carrying out infrastructure vulnerability research with the University.
During his holidays, he garnered work experience for the Land Transport Authority and the Ministry for Public Works in Samoa, assisting with the technical design and management of local government projects. Over this summer, he will be working a placement for the design services team at Tonkin and Taylor.
Exemplifying student leadership, he was elected as part two representative for the civil faculty committee and is a mentor for the student organisation SPIES. He enjoys tutoring Calculus and Science for the Pacific Academy and Tuakana programs. Through his lessons he wants to inspire younger Pacific and Maori students towards STEM related careers.
Outside of University Vensel loves playing rugby for the Under-21 representative squad of the coveted Ponsonby Rugby Club.
He aspires to use his degree to support future development and sustainability projects in Samoa. His goal is to launch a construction firm with his relatives who are likewise studying Engineering. With such a venture, they desire to provide high-quality solutions and employment opportunities for families around the region.
PCF Top Pacific NZ Scholar Award
Sponsored by Code Avengers
Tiotio-Maximo was born in New Zealand to a British-Fijian father and a Samoan mother. He is from Vaisala, Safotu, Sasina and Safune in Savaii Samoa, and also from Kadavu in Fiji. He is the second of three brothers and with his cousins, was raised in the village (Vaisala, Savaii) by his late grandparents. He grew up in the village where he started his academic journey in Vaisala Primary School.
His late grandmother was his first and best teacher who taught him how to read, write, count and especially how to pray in Samoan and English. He moved to Apia to live with his parents and attended Samoa Primary School. His family moved to Fiji in 2005 where he joined Marist Primary School in Suva with his brothers. He moved back to Samoa after five years returning to Samoa Primary.
He attended Samoa College where he was a well-respected rugby player and school prefect, and continued on to the National University of Samoa Foundation where he won a scholarship to attend the University of Waikato where he completed his Bachelor of Engineering degree with first-class Honours in Mechanical Engineering in 2020. He was fortunate enough to get work experience in Samoa during the holidays at the Samoa Land and Transport Authority and the Electric Power Corporation. He was also blessed to work at the University of Waikato as a Research Assistant in the Energy Research Group. He was kept busy as a tutor, lab demonstrator and mentor to some of his STEM club members in their engineering papers at the University. He enjoyed tutoring maths and engineering and will keep this option open in Samoa where he hopes to influence the younger generation on studying in STEM.
In his experience, Maximo says you do not have to be a math or physics genius to excel in the STEM field. However, you do need to have the drive and determination to work hard together with the faith in God.
Outside of studies, he loves spending time with his family, catching up with sports (especially basketball and rugby), playing video games and watching movies. His plan now is to apply to the Renewable Energy team of the Electric Power Corporation. He hopes to get experience in the work force and be involved with energy emission reduction from electricity in Samoa. In an ideal world, he hopes to travel the Pacific nations with the same emission reduction goals in mind, especially from the energy sector. He knows we are not large contributors to global warming, but we are the victims of its effects, and says we could try and lower our emissions from energy and hopefully influence the larger nations.
PCF Young Pasifika Female of Influence Award
Sponsored by Ministry for Women
Sana is a 23-year-old proud New Zealand-born Indo-Fijian who grew up in Christchurch. She is a new primary school teacher who is passionate about nurturing children and helping them believe they are capable of anything. Sana feels privileged to be educating the next generation of thinkers and wants them to feel confident in their cultural identity, and she wants to instil children with values that teach them about the importance of giving back.
Sana is also passionate about supporting the most vulnerable in our communities, especially in our refugee and migrant community. She developed the ‘Teddy Bear Project’ which raises funds to purchase Teddy Bears to be gifted to refugee children arriving in Canterbury to feel comforted in times of distress and as they settle into their new homes - hoping to remind them that they are not forgotten, and relay the message that New Zealand welcomes them with open arms.
After being directly affected by the tragic events of 15 March, Sana knew that Muslim children in the community would be feeling scared and uneasy. She took part in an initiative that aims to help Muslim children feel empowered in their identity by teaching children values and the importance of staying true to their identity. Since then, it has been her mission to stamp out racism in all forms by educating others that diversity can enrich one’s life.
PCF Young Pasifika Male of Influence Award
Sponsored by Victoria University of Wellington
Leki Jackson-Bourke is a multi-cultural /multi-disciplinary, South-Auckland artist of Tongan, Niuean and Samoan descent. His Pacific heritage links back to the villages of Nei'afu Vava'u Tonga, Hakupu-Atua Niue and Vailima and Talimatau Samoa. Leki's passion for culture, art and activism began in high school when he challenged senior management to reinstate Polyfest and to allow their seventh form cohort to attend the annual 'Bring It On' hip-hop dance competition. After a hearty petition and a peaceful protest, Leki and his peers were victorious, and he would go on to carry this optimism and passion into the tertiary field.
Leki studied at the former Pacific Institute of Performing Arts and since graduating in 2011, he has worked professionally as an Actor, Dancer, Choreographer, Writer, Producer, Director and Stage/Production Manager across stage and screen for more than a decade. Leki has worked with and been mentored by some of the industry's most renowned Senior Pasifika Artists and he has represented Oceania on numerous occasions at international arts festivals in Europe, Australasia, America & across the Pacific. Leki's passion is in uplifting his Pasifika Community through performing and creative arts, to keep the stories, languages and cultures of his ancestors alive and thriving.
PCF Young Pasifika Male of Influence Award
Sponsored by Victoria University of Wellington
Mose Tanielu was born and raised in Samoa. He is from the villages of Puleia, Safa’ato’a Lefaga and Luatuanu’u and moved to New Zealand when he was 17 years old. He went to Mangere College and was blessed with a scholarship to attend the University of Auckland after high school. He also won the NZQA 2012 Top Subject Scholar award in Samoan.
In 2016, he graduated with a BCOM degree majoring in Accounting and Finance and always wanted to be accountant after university. However, after working as an accountant for less than a year, he realised that accounting wasn’t for me. Frankly, he said he found it boring (much respect to accountants). He was more fascinated with how accounting systems work and integrate with other systems rather than the actual work of an accountant.
He went on to work as a Technical Functional Analyst at the University of Auckland and has been in this role for over four years. He is an analyst with a passion for change and innovation especially in the data and technology space. He enjoys finding creative solutions to business challenges and comes with strong commercial and strategy expertise.
Mose also sits on the UoA Digital Services Occupational Health and Safety committee to ensure the Digital services provides a safe and healthy workplace for its employees. He attends and contributes to the safety of employees. He won an award for Service and Leadership at the University of Auckland 2020 Blues Awards. Last year, Mose decided to go back to university to study IT and has recently completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Information Technology.
Outside of work, Mose enjoys serving his community with acts of service. He is a Volunteer Firefighter on call 24/7. As an essential worker, he responded to the Sky City convention fire last year and Covid19 lockdown. He volunteers twice a month at Auckland City Mission and Eat my Lunch and fundraised for I AM HOPE and The Voices of Hope. During the lockdown, Mose and his mates volunteered every week for 8 weeks, 6 hours per week. Their team of less than 10 packed more than 4,500 emergency boxes in total.
As a Volunteer Firefighter based in Auckland Central he has been serving the community in this role for over two years now. He is on call 24/7 and has responded to all sorts of incidents. He also attends the Memorial Firefighter Stair Climb every year to honour all Firefighters who died in the 9/11 terrorist attack. As a firefighter and an essential worker, he responded to the Sky City convention fire and emergency calls during the Covid19 lock-down.
He serves at Life Church every fortnightly as a youth leader greeting and welcoming people to church. Giving out brochures, assist anyone who needs help with seating and answer any general queries particularly the youth welfare.
PCF Pasifika Health Ambassador Award
Sponsored by Pacific Health Plus
Dr Brittany Stanley-Wishart
Of Samoan and Cook Island descent, Brittany (she/her) was born and raised in Wellington and is the eldest child and eldest grandchild within her family. She currently works as a doctor in West Auckland and last year commenced her specialty training in Psychiatry.
Whilst completing her medical degree, she started a registered charity called Pasifika Students in Health New Zealand or PaSHNZ (pronounced Passions), which aimed to foster a more confident, competent, cohesive and connected Pacific health workforce for the future, and thereby contribute to improved health outcomes for Pacific people. Over the last four years, their team (made up of students and new graduates) has held two New Zealand-wide conferences, two regional forums, mentoring dinners, published a newsletter highlighting their students experiences, and fostered networks with a number of other Pacific students associations and Pacific NGOs around New Zealand.
Brittany has also been a part of formal and informal mentoring programmes for Pacific students interested in pursuing careers in health, she has been involved with local events checking blood pressures and giving information about risk factors for heart disease and stroke and in February 2020, she travelled to Samoa to aid local health professionals in the recovery following the measles epidemic with Samoa mo Samoa –the Samoan doctors worldwide volunteer service group.
In her spare time, Brittany is involved with the medical regulations of combat sports, specifically boxing, she was recently appointed as a board observer for Counties Manukau DHB, she has modelled with Pacific Fusion Fashion Show for the past two years and she is part of Ura Tabu; a female lead dance collective grounded in indigenous movement.
Her passions lie with Pacific communities, Mental Health, and young people and her ultimate goal is to encourage and contribute to more equitable health outcomes for our Pacific people.
PCF Pasifika Health Ambassador Award
Sponsored by Pacific Health Plus
Emmerson Toomaga is a 20-year-old Pacific Island and Maori woman who has just completed her Bachelor of Health studies at Victoria University, majoring in Population Health, Policy and Service Delivery. She has a keen passion for the health and well-being of Pacific communities across Aotearoa and this passion was her motivation to complete her studies. She wants to be in the room where policies are developed and change is made.
Emmerson was born in Tawa, Wellington, and has resided there for the past 20 years. She lives with her mother Hannah Toomaga, father Iona Toomaga, and sister Chelsea Toomaga. They are a close family and Emmerson puts them at the forefront of everything she does. She says they are a large part of her achievements so far.
In September of 2019 Emmerson was hired as a Research Assistant for Pacific Health Plus, and worked under Researcher Ofa Dewes in the Sugar in Schools project. Sugar in Schools aims to understand why Pacific Island children are often overrepresented in health issues regarding high fructose levels in the body, such as obesity. This was an exciting opportunity that allowed Emmerson to communicate directly with the Pacific community, and have a hands-on approach to research. Emmerson went into schools for the study, communicated directly with students, and experienced handling data. She says she is truly grateful for the experience as it has taught her valuable lessons that she will be able to take with her throughout the rest of her career. Emmerson is looking forward to seeing where she can help further improve Pacific communities in the future.
PCF Sport Ambassador Award
Sponsored by Fiso Investment Group
Twenty-one-year-old Lyric Faleafaga is mum to a beautiful boy named Kal-El and is studying Psychology and Cultural Anthropology at Victoria University. In 2017 she was contracted in her last year of college to the Black Ferns Women 7s team. The programme supported Lyric as she reported some anomalies with her shoulders and underwent keyhole surgery on both shoulders. She persevered through her rehabilitation programme before moving to Tauranga as New Zealand Rugby centralised the 7’s programme. Towards the end of the campaign Lyric prepared for the arrival of her son and planned her short and long term goals of what the next steps looked like.
Postpartum she continued with rugby commitments and returned to club rugby after two months.
During the 2019 Club and FPC season, she injured her left shoulder and awaited her third surgical
procedure. More months of discipline and rehabilitation followed. She played 15-aside club rugby
towards the end of the Wellington rugby football club season, and from there she gained selection for
FPC 2020 campaign. She was further blessed with the opportunity to compete in the Possible vs Probable Black Ferns Camp, and contributed to the New Zealand Barbarians campaign.
Lyric says her journey and success has been well supported by her loved ones, and she is so grateful for their support. Her focus and commitment when rugby opportunities present is driven by a combination of giving back and planned conditioning. She celebrates her absence from home when her time away is well spent and prepared for, so her intent and drive is focused. Her confidence was tested on many levels while persevering through injury obstacles and life changes. As determined as she was to take the field, she was humbled by discipline and patience to heal the body and the mind. She says the courage to rebuild her confidence and showcase her strengths is still a work in progress.
Lyric is an outgoing extrovert who loves board and card games, freediving, outdoor living, music
and food! She can be competitive at times (most of the time) but definitely sways towards the fun
side of what is happening in life.
PCF Sport Ambassador Award
Sponsored by Fiso Investment Group
Dhys Faleafaga is a 20-year-old Samoan woman who grew up in Porirua and attended St Mary’s College in Wellington. For the past two years she has been contracted to the Black Ferns 7s team and is based in Tauranga living her dream as a full-time professional athlete.
During her time outside of rugby Dhys studies part time through Massey University, working towards majoring in Occupational Health Therapy. She’s in an environment with extended family and friends that requires self-management and discipline to balance her passion for rugby alongside her growth and development towards life outside of rugby.
Dhys considers herself respectful, hardworking and focused. She was raised by family who taught her to respect herself and her integrity. She says she is accountable and responsible foremost to herself and the standard she wants to achieve, so keeping herself honest has helped her in life and in her sporting career. She says being in a team sport, it is important to respect each other and honor the opportunities given with honest hard work. Dhys says working hard for herself, her peers, and making sacrifices to achieve individual and team goals requires focus which has helped her grow as an individual and develop towards being the best version of herself that she can be.
Outside of work and studying, she loves to spend time outdoors either at the beach, listening to music, or going for walks. You can be guaranteed to find her where there is food, good company and banter. She says she is grateful for the people in her life and especially grateful for this life that she gets to live.
PCF Top Pasifika Cultural and Language Advocate Award
Sponsored by Ministry for Pacific Peoples
Leulua’iali’i Satuala Tofaeono Tanuvasa
Leulua’iali’i is a writer, motivational speaker, model, and publisher. He is a student ambassador for the University of Auckland, Managing Director for Fuelavelave Press, and Cultural advisor for Sau E Siva Productions. He is also teaching at the Pacific Education Centre. The Samoan proverb, “O le ala i le pule, o le tautua – the pathway to leadership begins with service” is his life mantra. He believes that service to others is the essence of greatness and the highest of distinctions.
Leulua’iali’i publishes the largest collection of Samoan educational resources following the legacy of his father the late Tofaeono Tanuvasa Tavale. He is an award-winning choreographer and speech writer. Leulua’iali’i is dedicated to preserving the Samoan culture and working with youth and mental health. He believes that inspiring young people to understand their cultural identity improves their sense of self and relating to others. His expertise in the Samoan culture stems from his upbringing and passion to preserve it. One of his main aims is to preserve the language for future generations. Leulua’iali’i works closely with organisations or groups that share this mission. He believes that there is strength in unity and working towards a shared mission. Leulua’iali’i is currently based in Mangere, South Auckland and is an active parishioner at St Therese Parish, Mangere East.
The PCF has sponsored the supreme award for Pacific Youth advocacy
to Aigagalefili Fepulea'iTapua'i
Aigagalefili Fepulea'I Tapua'I recently won Young Leader in the Westpac 2020 Women of Influence NZ Awards. She is also head girl at Aorere College and an Indigenous and climate activist. She is a founding member and chair of 4 Tha Kulture, an indigenous South Auckland youth environmentalist collective which co-organised the largest and most recent School Strike for Climate. She was the 2019 New Zealand Storytellers High School Public Speaking Champion, the New Zealand representative at the 2020 Global Young Leaders Conference, and had her poetry published in The Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2019.
As an advocate for low socioeconomic and South Auckland youth, Fili worked with the School March Against Violence and aims to uplift marginalised youth in her community.
The PCF has sponsored the supreme award for Inclusion to Shaneel Lal.
Shaneel was born in Fiji and migrated to New Zealand at the age of 14. They are of iTaukei and Girmitiya descent. Shaneel is passionate about creating space for the many intersections of the queer community such as the takatāpui community, immigrant communities and people of colour.
Shaneel co-founded the Conversion Therapy Action Group to work towards a ban on conversion therapy, they have also worked alongside the Ministry of Education to design a more inclusive education system.
Their main interest lies in decolonising New Zealand to even the playing field for all people.
Shaneel believes in creating a community in which everyone has equitable opportunities to succeed.