Pacific young people are a fast growing and diverse group in New Zealand, with over 50 percent aged younger than 25 years old.
Facilitated by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP), the Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards (PMPYA) celebrate success and reward outstanding achievement by many of those Pacific young people who call Aotearoa home.
Since the launch of PMPYA in 2010, the awards have helped to enhance the journey for extraordinary individuals who have progressed into careers ranging from Engineers and Scientists to Chief Executives, Lawyers, international Artists, and Academics to name a few.
At the 2019 PMPYA, Ioane Fiso (pictured) was presented with the Fonterra Award at recognising his academic achievement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).
Space and the mysteries it holds has always fascinated Ioane, and he has dreams of becoming the first Samoan astronaut to reach the next frontier.
The Wellington-based student has plans to complete a Bachelor of Engineering (Honours) - Mechanical Engineering, and post-graduate study in Aeronautical Engineering, before pursuing a career in the space, research and development, technology and exploration field.
In November 2018, Ioane was invited by Sir Richard Taylor to attend a presentation by world renowned Physicist Michio Kaku as a VIP guest, and the following month, he was part of an astrophysics workshop at The Adler Planetarium in Chicago.
Ioane also attended a STEM Accelerator Tour of the United States, involving other STEM students from New Zealand, as well as Australia, Switzerland and Spain.
During this tour, they visited several NASA research and development sites including the Jet Propulsion Laboratory, NASA Ames Centre, NASA Astrobiology Research Centre and the Atomic Space Centre.
Ioane’s prize included an internship with Fonterra, worth $10,000.
“The opportunity to be a part of the Fonterra team is exciting in terms of the engineering skills I can learn, the people I can meet and learn from, networking opportunities and the chance to be involved with cutting edge research and development,” Ioane says.
“I appreciate this chance to learn and grow as an aspiring Scientist and Engineer.
“The award is helping me set up strong foundations, relationships and to gain experience in the STEM field where I wish to excel and grow.”
Driving Ioane to reach his goal of being the first Samoan in space, is the impact he will have on other Pacific people, he says.
Pacific young people – like Ioane – who are making a positive impact on society in their chosen field and aged between 17 and 24, are encouraged apply for the 2021 PMPYA.
Applications are now open and close midday on July 14. The 2021 PMPYA awards ceremony is on 31 August, 2021.