STEM success sees growth in Toloa programme

posted: 8:00 pm - 4th April 2021
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(Picture caption: Northern recipients of the Toloa Awards are celebrated in an event at Fale o Samoa, in Auckland.) 

An increasing number of Pacific people are embracing Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) opportunities, paving a pathway to educational success.

Now in its sixth year, the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) Toloa Programme is achieving its goal of helping Pacific Aotearoa to thrive.

Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon Aupito William Sio says the aim is to see Pacific communities in Aotearoa prosper.

“Encouraging more people into STEM-related study and jobs is a way to do this,” Minister Sio says.

“We want Pacific peoples fulfilling their potential in the belief everyone in Aotearoa has the opportunity to succeed and be able to provide for their families.”

The STEM fields are the way of the future, and future employment sectors will require STEM skills. 

In 2015, MPP established the Toloa Programme, which takes a multi-faceted approach of raising awareness and providing workforce development opportunities.

Every year, scholarships and funding are provided to individuals and groups at the Toloa Awards, which are being held in Auckland, Wellington, and Christchurch throughout March and April.

This year, MPP has awarded 59 Toloa Tertiary Scholarships to Pacific students to pursue studies in STEM and become the future innovators and leaders in this space.

“It is our highest number of scholarships given out for the programme since it began,” Minister Sio explains.

“It not only encourages more students to take up STEM subjects, but it lifts the burden of having to find funds for tertiary fees, meaning students can focus entirely on their studies.”

This year, there are 34 recipients of the Community Fund and 14 Kenese Fund recipients.

In July last year, the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) and MPP signed a Memorandum of Understanding, agreeing to work together, to increase the number of Pacific people in the STEM workforce.

A total of $550,000 has been allocated to MPP from MBIE’s Research, Science, and Innovation: Talent and Science Promotion appropriation to support initiatives for Pacific people to transition into STEM employment .

Minister Sio says this support has been gratefully received and by working together with MBIE, we are moving closer to seeing more and more Pacific faces in jobs such as Engineering and Computer Programming. 

“It is a fascinating time for the growing population of Pacific peoples in New Zealand, as we welcome the future and opportunities in STEM,” he adds.

Northern-based recipients of the Toloa Tertiary Scholarships, Community Fund and Kenese Fund were congratulated at an event on March 30.

The Central and Southern Awards will be staged on April 12 in Wellington and 19 in Christchurch respectively.

Northern recipients

Toloa Community Fund

Brown Pride NZ

Congregation Christian Church of Samoa Otahuhu Trust Board

Digital Discipline (SL1 Consulting Limited)

Congregational Christian Church of Samoan Hamilton Trust Board, Hamilton Youth Group

EFKS Mt Roskill Youth Samoan Pacific Group

EFKS Ranui Trust Church Trust Board

Faith City Trust Board

Samoan Scientist

Taulanga Malie Reformed Christian Church of Tuvalu Trust in Tauranga

Aoga Fa'ata'ita'i Samoa PIC Mangere (Tausa'afia Trust)

The Lalaga Foundation

To'utupu Tonga Trust

Vahefonua Tonga Methodist Mission Charitable Trust (SIAOLA)

Vaitupu Community Trust

West Auckland Kiribati Association Incorporated

Toloa Kenese Fund

A & K Thomson Limited

COMET Auckland

Ferguson Intermediate School

GirlBoss New Zealand

KidsCoin Limited

Pam Fergusson Charitable Trust

Satauro PIPC Wiri Sunday School

Techtorium- St Paul's College

Tuvalu Auckland Community Trust

Vai ‘Oe Mo’ui Tongan Church Community (The Methodist Church of New Zealand Te Haahi Weteriana O Aotearoa Auckland - Manukau Tongan Parish - Parish (7510)

Toloa Tertiary Scholarships

Massey University (Manawatu)

Shauna Glassie-Ryan

University of Auckland

Greissen Leslie

Talia Mather

Logan Fenton

Elizabeth Arrowsmith

Jasmin Smith

Joshua Simmons

Sereima Dulakuverata

Alfred (Afereti) Pama

Anthea Adam

Deborah Salave’a

Fa’atonu Fa’afili

Gerald Tuimalealiifano

Gustav Chu-Ling

Mabel Fa'aloua Leilani Tata

Marcus Siliko

Michael Vaeono

Miracle Naititi

Niels Arnesen

Valerie Lui

University of Waikato

Seila Vaeluaga

Alexander Deo

Anunson Ott

Unitec

Josiah Tuitama

Auckland University of Technology

Leilani Stowers

Tuamu Maka­ 

Visit MPP’s website for more information on the Toloa Programme.