Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Awards Winners
Leadership and Inspiration, sponsor: Air New Zealand
Winner: LEORIDA PETERS
Prize: A trip to New York to see New Zealand on the UN Security Council.
Leorida says she leads by example to empower Pasifika success and contribute to progress for Pasifika people. She has a special passion for empowering females to achieve.
The 17-year-old has already proven her dedication to leading and helping others with her involvement in a number of projects including the Sir Peter Blake Youth Leadership Forum, the United Nations General Assembly Australia, the United Nations Youth Pacific Project Samoa and the UNESCO Education for Sustainable Development Conference. She has also shone as the Auckland Girl’s Grammar School 2015 Deputy Head Girl and leader of the school’s Polyfest Samoan Group.
She is passionate about humanitarian and global issues and has used her leadership roles as an educational platform to inform her Pasifika peers of global issues and to encourage them to be proactive to make a difference.
Leorida says her faith and the support of her mother are her guiding forces. She says as an only child raised by her Samoan mother, with the support of her grandmother, she learnt the importance of her identity, her language, values of her loving family and that education was critical to success.
Leorida says she has experienced bullying and many of her peers have tried to discredit or embarrass her for wanting to succeed. She says though they were troubled times and made her doubt herself, her faith and support of her aiga helped her through and she is always willing to lend her listening skills for those struggling with any issue.
Leorida says her experiences have sparked the justice and freedom fighter within and has inspired her aspiration to study Law and Arts majoring in Politics and International Relations and Pacific Studies.
She is confident these studies will assist her in her ultimate goal of working in foreign policy or diplomatic service.
Sports and Fitness, sponsor: New Zealand Institute of Sport
Winner: JARIMAR SCHUSTER
Prize: A scholarship worth $6000 for one year of tuition fees and course related costs at the New Zealand Institute of Sport.
Jarimar is already a recognisable face around many rugby fields in the Wellington region, he’s been playing rugby since he could walk and dreams of performing at the highest level as an All Black.
Jarimar’s carving out a promising rugby career which started at St Patricks College before moving to Scots College last year. He says playing his old school in the finals in 2015 and winning for Scots College was personally hard for him to deal with however in the professional era something he knows he will have to get used to. He also broke his leg in that final and being unable to play for three months was challenging.
Despite this, Jarimar went on to receive the prestigious Rugby Colours award for Scots college this year and is also showing his all-round sporting ability by coaching a rugby holiday programme for 7 – 10 year olds.
He says contributing to the game as a player in every aspect is important to keeping skills on point on and off the field. He has already represented his school teams in Japan and Malaysia and says learning to be a better public speaker is a must for professional athletes. Jarimar says this award will allow him to focus fully on rugby and plans to pursue his dream of becoming an All Black with plans to go to Police Training School in the next five years.
He is extremely passionate and excited about his next step in life after successfully gaining entry into the New Zealand Institute of Sport where he will be studying the pre-police proficiency programme.
"I believe I can make a real difference and contribution to the communities I serve,” Jarimar says.
Business & Enterprise, sponsors: Pacific Business and The Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs
Winner: GRACE LIGAIRI
Prize: $10,000 cash to invest in business growth and development.
Grace has proven her business acumen and innovation by creating a product she says will revolutionise the hospitality industry.
Like all good entrepreneurs she saw a problem and found a solution to solve it with a product that is now in prototype stage.
She says her Slyd’InHolder Tray idea came from working as a waitress and many in the hospitality industry are already in support of her product. She says she’s already been asked to hurry up her development process so it can go to market. “I have a comprehensive business plan, a perfected prototype and interest in the product domestically and internationally. The sooner it comes the better is what I’m hearing.”
She plans to change the way the hospitality industry operates by offering innovative ways to do things better.
Grace says her Fijian upbringing has meant humility is a big part of who she is and how she operates. “I have dreamed of revolutionising the hospitality and tourism industry in my home country of Fiji, to create better, faster, easier and practical service,” she says.
She is living in Whangarei and splits her time when she’s not working on her product between working for a local restaurant and a recruitment agency.
Arts & Creativity, sponsor: Creative NZ
Winner: SIONE FALETAU
Prize: $10,000 to fund a paid internship or residency with a New Zealand arts organisation or put towards an approved arts project.
Sione is an accomplished and exhibited artist.
He says his creative performance art works encompasses and details his identity as a young New Zealand born Tongan and the struggles of a bi-cultural life.
He has a Bachelor in Fine Arts Honours (First Class) and a Master of Fine Arts (First Class honours) from the University of Auckland’s prestigious Elam School of Fine Arts.
He has exhibited at various art galleries around Auckland and his exhibitions this year include Ha’amonga, curated by Ane Tonga.
He will be exhibiting in Christchurch and Melbourne in 2016.
He says the challenges for a young New Zealand born Tongan from Otara in South Auckland are many and hopes his creative work helps others confront and conquer their struggles too.
Sione says as the only Pacific person in his fine arts class he often felt the pressure to represent and influence his peers for all Pacific communities.
“Without experiencing these adversaries and obstacles I would not have achieved what I have today. They have shaped me, made my rough edges smoother and fine-tuned me to what I have accomplished thus far.”
Sione is also a youth leader at his church and says performing art is a great way to express stories with youth about subjects that may be difficult. He also supports the Otahuhu Tongan group during the annual Polyfest.
Sione is currently working at the Auckland Museum and plans to start his Doctorate in Fine Arts at the University of Auckland in 2016. His research will focus on Pacific men in New Zealand, in particular Tongan men.
Sione says his study will help him towards achieving his future aspiration of becoming a lecturer.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM), sponsors: Youthline, Ako Aotearoa and The University of Waikato.
Winner: ANTONY VAVIA
Prize: $10,000 total cash to fund learning and development opportunities and associated expenses, plus an option to take up a $5,000 scholarship towards study at University of Waikato. Antony says such is his determination to succeed in science that he’s already referring to himself as a “Hero Marine Biologist.”
He says the ocean has barely been explored and he believes many of the solutions that can help Pacific and global communities deal with the world’s depleting resources may lie in the ocean. Antony says the Pacific Ocean is a playground for aquatic life and scientific research and knowledge can provide many economic benefits for Pacific communities.
His Cook Islands and Fijian heritage ensure his love of the ocean and his drive to succeed. He says his family are a constant source of encouragement and his mother is always reminding him to believe in himself. Antony grew up in South Auckland, was a prefect at Onehunga High School and also a peer sexuality support programme leader. He says being a Pacific teenager can present many challenges however with guidance and support anyone can overcome adversity.
Antony’s excellence has already been acknowledged with winning a first year Marine Biology Scholarship at AUT in 2014 and plans to continue studying Marine Biology at AUT, where he is often called upon to present a student’s perspective on behalf of the school of Applied Sciences.