Toloa Scholars set to change the STEM world

posted: 9:15 am - 6th March 2018

(Picture caption: William Asiata accepts his Toloa Tertiary Scholarship at Fale o Samoa.) 

A fresh cohort of potential “world changers” has been presented with a Toloa Tertiary Scholarship to pursue studies in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP). 

Past recipient Lupesina Koro delivered a powerful speech to the 13 recipients for 2018 during a ceremony at Fale o Samoa, Mangere last week attended by the Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon. Aupito William Sio, MPP Chief Executive Laulu Mac Leauanae, distinguished community leaders and university representatives. 

In 2017, Lupesina (pictured below) received a Toloa Scholarship, which she is using to study towards conjoint degrees in Commerce and Engineering at the University of Auckland.


She says the Toloa Scholarship recipients are world changers. 

"We are world changers because of who we are - brown faces interested in STEM.    

“We are disrupting the norm, breaking down barriers to create something more beautiful and something for the future generation to aspire to.” 

Facilitated and supported by MPP, the Toloa Programme encourages Pacific students to pursue studies in STEM (science, technology, engineering and maths) subjects, with the aim of increasing the number of Pasifika employed in STEM-related careers. 

This year, 13 exceptional students from around New Zealand received scholarships – five more than last year.

Mr Sio presented the students with their scholarship awards at the event, and says he is excited MPP is able to support more Pacific students studying STEM subjects in disciplines and career-pathways Pacific people are under-represented in.

The Government’s Fees-free policy introduced for first-year students has meant MPP could increase the scope of scholarship support to Pacific students pursuing STEM majors in 2018.

“I want to see more Pacific people pursuing STEM majors so we grow our workforce to become well equipped for the changing working environment,” Mr Sio says.

“It’s vital our students succeed, as Pacific success is important to this Government and critical to Pacific people’s contribution towards growing a sustainable economy fair to all New Zealanders.

“That is why the Ministry has put in place agreements with participating universities to provide pastoral care with academic and cultural support essential for student success,” he adds.

One of the 13 recipients Anna Clark (pictured below with mum Kiran), who is of Fijian descent says it is an honour to receive a Toloa Scholarship.

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“There were so many great applicants, so to be in the final 13, I feel it is my responsibility to accept it on all of our behalf,” the University of Otago Master of Science student says.

“It is a significant amount to put towards our education, and I hope be able to give back to benefit New Zealand and Pacific nations.”

The MPP recipients for the 2018 Toloa Scholarships are: 


  • Anna Clark - of Fijian descent, from North Canterbury is starting her two-year Master of Science degree specialising in genetics at the University of Otago.
  • Bruce Graham – of Samoan and Tokelauan descent, from Wellington is in his second year of study towards his Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) at Canterbury University. 
  • Campbell Talaepa – of Samoan descent, from Auckland is studying towards a conjoint Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) and Bachelor of Science at the University of Auckland. 
  • Finau Tungapeau - of Tongan descent, from Dunedin is completing a two-year Master of Dietetics at the University of Otago.  
  • Hayes Okesene – of Samoan descent, from Auckland is studying towards a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) at the University of Auckland specialising in chemicals and materials engineering.  
  • Jacinta Faitotoa - of Samoan descent, from Auckland will be studying towards a Bachelor of Engineering (Hons) with a focus on mechanical or civil work at the University of Auckland. 
  • Jade Christiansen - of Samoan descent, from Marton is studying towards a Bachelor of Science at the University of Otago. 
  • Jasmine Havea – of Tongan descent, from Palmerston North is completing a conjoint degree in Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) and Bachelor of Science (Computer Science) at the Victoria University. 
  • Karizma Tuilaepa – of Samoan descent, from Auckland is studying her Bachelor of Veterinary Technology at Massey University. 
  • Linda Fatialofa - of Samoan descent, from Wellington is completing her Master of Science in Forensic Psychology at Victoria University. 
  • Lukan Paitai - of Cook Islands and Samoan descent, from Auckland is studying towards a Bachelor of Engineering at the University of Auckland. 
  • Siaosi Koloamatangi - of Tongan descent, from Auckland. After completing his Bachelor of Science (Hons), Siaosi will start his PHD in Genetics at Massey University. 
  • William Asiata – of Samoan descent, from Auckland is completing his Master of Information Technology over three semesters at the University of Auckland. 

Visit MPP for more information about this initiative.