Last week nine young Pacific entrepreneurs were honoured at the 2022 Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards (PMPYA), which celebrates and acknowledges the successes, talent and commitment of Pacific Youth.
The event at Parliament acknowledged the Award winners, who are aged between 17 and 24 years old, for their remarkable work advocating their language and culture, leadership and entrepreneurship, and art, education and community efforts. Deputy Prime Minister Grant Robertson and Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio presented the awards.
The Pacific Business Trust is proud to have sponsored the Business and Entrepreneurship Award and congratulates this year’s recipient, 17-year-old To’e Lokeni.
To’e, with his good friend, Mannfred Sofara, was inspired to create the website Fa’amalosi – Say it Right after realising a common problem of mispronounced Māori and Pasifika names.
Subscribers to the website can search for a name to hear the correct pronunciation, request to have a new name pronounced, or users can add their own. The popular website features te reo Māori, Samoan, Tongan, Cook Island, Tokelauan, and Kiribati and connects with the community to share knowledge.
To’e has just completed year 13 at Bishop Viard College and plans to study commerce at Victoria University of Wellington in 2023.
The Pacific Business Trust congratulates all the inspiring winners of this year’s categories who take on challenges to help Pasifika thrive:
Latayvia Tualasea Tautai winner of the Leadership and Inspiration Award sponsored by Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Air New Zealand.
Latayvia strives to lead her life with empathy and pride and is a strong advocate for women’s rights and women’s health. Shaped by the resilience of her own family Latayvia “never felt the poverty of aspiration because of the love, time, belief and petrol invested in me”. She dedicated her award to all the kids doing it tough and at 24 years old Latyvia helps families with financial literacy and is committed to eradicating poverty. Latayvia is currently a senior associate at the YWCA Tāmaki Makaurau, empowering young women through her work shaping and delivering the Y25 programme.
Vaofusi Salvis Laurenson winner of the Commercial and Corporate Award sponsored by Deloitte.
Vaofusi is recognised for his significant academic achievement and is currently working as the Head Business Tuakana Tutor at the University of Auckland. He unapologetically ensures that Pasifika perspectives and values are embraced and talked about. Coming from a Samoan family of 11, Vaofusi has developed the Pacific fundamentals of humility, hard work, respect and service to the community and in his acceptance said he was “reminded of my identity, the sacrifices my parents and many others have made, and the great potential we have to take every opportunity to lift where we stand. Emphasis on the ‘we’, for our village, our faasiomanga.”
Eunique Ikiua winner of the Language, Culture & Identity Award sponsored by Ministry for Pacific Peoples.
Eunique has demonstrated outstanding leadership qualities and is one of a few Pacific people affecting change in the technology industry. In 2022 she has presented to 3,000+ Māori and Pacific students via panels, workshops and education events, particularly in South and West Auckland. A proud Niuean, Eunique congratulated her fellow Award recipients, “the future of Aotearoa New Zealand is looking very bright indeed.”
Emeline Latu winner of the Teaching and Education sponsored by the Ministry of Education.
Emeline is on a mission to educate those around her about the importance of Tongan culture and values. She aspires to be a teacher and is studying towards a Bachelor of Arts majoring in education at Auckland University of Technology. Emeline believes that being a teacher will allow her the power to change lives using culture as a tool to create change within the education system. Emeline hopes for “change within the education system and for Pacific and Māori frameworks which include talanoa, te whare tapa whā and fono fale to be used more in schools. Society is forever changing and within these frameworks students will not only be educated academically but also mentally, emotionally and physically.”
Annafinau Tukuitonga winner of the Arts, Culture and Creativity Awards sponsored by the Creative New Zealand.
Annafinau loves to inspire young Pacific people through her passion for music. As the New Zealand Country Music Youth Ambassador, she encourages her budding peers to try something different and is on a mission to inspire Pacific people to prove wrong the many stereotypes that they may be facing. Annafinau’s musicality started at 4-years old, she’s owns a banjo and yodels, and in her journey she thanked her mother and grandmother for always supporting and encouraging her. Annafinau’s goal is to one day “share my love for music with those in need and use my talent as a form of therapy for people.”
Maia Mariner receives the Community Star Award.
Maia Mariner and Mary Ieremia-Allan co-winners of the Community Star Award sponsored by the Auckland City Council.
Maia Mariner was just 12 years old when she came up with the not-for-profit project Lazy Sneakers after seeing fellow students playing with no shoes. Five years later at 17-years-old her project has collected over 10,000 pairs of sneakers and distributed them across New Zealand, Australia and Samoa. Maia has received recognition from Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth II with the Commonwealth Points of Light Award, as a New Zealander Local Hero of The Year winner and a raft of other major awards.
Mary Ieremia-Allan has devoted much of her life to captaining national sports teams, leading orchestras, choreographing siva Samoa, leading youth in church, tutoring in academia and pioneering initiatives in youth politics. In 2021, she initiated the inaugural Hamilton City Council Chambers youth submissions around the effects the Council’s financial plan had on young people. “The change we need to see in our communities to not fitting our Kaupapa into a structure, it is not found putting brown faces into places and calling it inclusive…serving our Pasifika community is serving the ones who are struggling the most, suffering the most.”
Mele 'Ofa-Ki-Vila Mafi winner of the International Scholar Award sponsored by the Pacific Cooperation Foundation.
Mele ‘Ofa-Ki-Vila Mafi is paving the way as a Pacific woman in the engineering sector. She moved to Aotearoa from the Kingdom of Tonga to attend Auckland University and is studying toward a Bachelor of Engineering degree. Mele also works as an undergraduate transport engineer for AECOM and as a research assistant for the Faculty of Engineering in the Conjunctive Water Allocation Modelling Framework for New Zealand. She highlighted that “we need to strengthen our Pacific community in education…it is vital for our Pacific people to have multiple role models to help our kids, learning to work together and share our creative ideas. This will all help our community.”
We wish all the young Pasifika Award recipients, and our future leaders, a successful year ahead in 2023 in all they aspire to achieve.
The PBT Team
PBT News team bringing you the latest news in the PBT community