Taking Pasifika’s place in STEM

posted: 1:00 pm - 5th January 2018
GCSB STEM award photo

Otago University Medicine student Roneima Teumohenga (pictured) believes Pasifika in New Zealand need to step up and take their rightful place in all things STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths) related.

In 2016, the Palmerston North-based Roneima of Tongan, Tokelauan and Samoan heritage, was presented with the Government Communications Security Bureau (GCSB) STEM Award at the Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards (PMPYA).

Roneima strongly supports Pacific people choosing to study STEM subjects, as she says it is the way of the future.

“Jobs in the next 10-15 years will be predominantly STEM related, and many of the jobs we know today will change dramatically,” Roneima says.

“Our people could potentially have an improved chance of employment and socio-economic status if our young people choose STEM subjects which lead to STEM career pathways. 

“We must work together to overcome the barriers which continue to stigmatise STEM subjects, and we must take our rightful place in all things STEM.”

For the 19-year-old, winning the PMPYA STEM category in 2016 is helping her to achieve her goals.  

The $10,000 scholarship she has received is going towards her tuition fees and other student costs during her time as a medical student in NZ’s Deep South.

It has helped open doors and provided her with opportunities as a young female Pasifika student. 

“The money has contributed towards course related costs I have found very useful throughout my first year at University - on the financial side of things it has definitely given me an advantage in the life of a student. 

“Also, due to PMPYA I was chosen to be a part of the ‘We are Otago’ filmed advertisements,” Roneima adds. 

First held in 2010, the Awards hosted by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) provide an opportunity for high-achieving Pacific youth in NZ to be recognised for their contribution to the country by the Rt Hon Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern. 

Roneima says PYMPA is a terrific initiative as it offers young Pasifika people chances they may not otherwise get. 

“There are scholarships from the Government, it allows us to make key connections with other people nationwide and it inspires other Pasifika children in our families, communities and nations. 

“It also provides a platform to highlight the achievements of Pasifika students across New Zealand.” 

Pacific youth should apply for PMPYA because winning can help them reach their goals, Roneima adds. 

Invaluable experience can be gained from just completing the application and the interview process; and by taking part in this initiative, it can continue to inspire the individuals as their families and communities support and show pride in them.   

“It opens doors we never knew existed and gives Pacific youth positive exposure, encouraging us to make a change in New Zealand.”

 Awards are presented in eight categories – Leadership and Inspiration; Top Regional Pacific Scholar; Community Star; Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM); Arts and Creativity; Commercial and Corporate; Business and Enterprise; and Sport and Fitness. 

Awards vary for each category – from a diplomatic international experience, to paid summer internships and grants to support further study and career development.

Additionally, the 2018 award winners will also be offered personalised leadership development support. 

Applications for the 2018 PMPYA close February 6, 2018, and an Awards ceremony will follow (date TBC).

Applications forms are available HERE.