Even at a young age, a life of leadership and service was evident for Leorida Peters, a 2015 Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Award (PMPYA) recipient.
At just 17 years old, Leorida collected the Leadership and Inspiration award, sponsored by Air New Zealand, which saw her win a visit to New York City to see New Zealand on the United Nations Security Council.
The award was a result of her dedication to leading and helping others with her involvement in a number of projects including the Sir Peter Blake Youth Leadership Forum; the UN General Assembly Australia; the UN Youth Pacific Project Samoa; and the UNESCO Education for Sustainable Development Conference.
She also shone as Auckland Girl’s Grammar School 2015 Deputy Head Girl and leader of the school’s Polyfest Samoan Group.
Now 21, Leorida has always been passionate about humanitarian and global issues and has used her leadership roles as an educational platform to inform her Pacific peers of global issues while encouraging them to be proactive and make a difference.
Since receiving her award, Leorida has chosen to study a Law and Arts conjoint degree at the University of Auckland while working on an initiative she launched this year, the Mafaufau Project.
“The Mafaufau Project aims to engage and educate Pasefika communities on mental health through online media and community outreach,” Leorida explains.
Receiving a PMPYA has impacted Leorida’s life and career direction greatly, she says.
“The award has connected me to many networks for my career after and outside of university, and this has also helped me refine what I want to do with my degree and the service I want to provide for my people.
“I am hoping to pursue a career in policy that combines my Law degree and my passion of advocacy for Pacific people.”
Through this profession, Leorida aims to serve the Pacific community by amplifying their voices to affect change that accommodates them.
“I also wish to keep running my Mafaufau Project and having a direct and personal impact in our communities on a grassroots level.”
Aside from gaining an education, serving people has always been a priority for her, which is why starting a community initiative, was so important for the young leader.
“In the future, I plan to develop and expand the Mafaufau Project to have it used in schools, churches, work places and other communities.
“Meanwhile, I will use my Law degree to try and entrench the same values at the heart of my projects, into our legal system.”
Having been on the receiving end of a PMPYA, Leorida is very encouraging of Pacific youth to apply for the awards.
“Our youth is the next generation of leaders and their capability to lead and understand what is happening now, is more valuable than they think.
“I am continuously left in awe at the work and input young people have in our communities, which is not often highlighted, or well-resourced.
“These awards are not only an acknowledgement of their amazing contribution, but an assistance to take their ideas and dreams to where they want to go.”
Any young person between the age of 17 and 24 years, who is a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident of Pacific descent, can apply for an award.
There are nine categories and 11 awards. Applications close on June 30. Apply now.