13 November, 2012
PM’s Pacific Youth Awards winners announced
Pacific Island Affairs Minister Hekia Parata says the Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards continues to consistently reveal the high calibre of Pacific Island youth.
“I am proud of New Zealand’s Pacific youth and proud that this initiative by the Prime Minister continues to focus on highlighting their talents and achievements.
Over 100 applications were received, reflecting the large number of talented and ambitious young Pacific people. We have chosen five high-achieving young Pacific winners recognising outstanding achievement among young leaders.
The Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards are in five categories and the award winners are:
- University of Auckland Leadership Award – Karina Kaufusi, 20, Auckland
- Weta Workshop Creativity Award – Masuaga Pati AhSue, 23, Auckland
- Cogita Inspiration Award – Barney Koneferenisi, 18, Auckland
- Air New Zealand Innovation Award – Ranamila Joji Chute, 18, Auckland
- Vodafone Mobiles4Good Award – Douglas Quensell, 23, Auckland.
The awards were established in 2010 to inspire young Pacific people to reach their full potential.
“All New Zealanders will be proud of Barney Koneferenisi, Douglas Quensell, Karina Kaufusi, Masuaga Pati AhSue and Ranamila Joji Chute. These five winners are a fantastic reflection of high-achieving Pacific students who shine academically and have made significant contributions to their schools and communities,” says Ms Parata
“I congratulate, acknowledge and praise all the winners and their families. I also thank the sponsors who have recognised the value of this initiative,” says Ms Parata
The winners receive up to $6,000 in tuition fees at University of Auckland (Leadership Award), an aviation engineering course worth $7,400 from Air New Zealand (Innovation Award), a year’s paid internship at Weta Workshop (Creativity Award), an overseas trip/personal development worth up to $5000 from Cogita Business Systems (Inspiration) and $5,000 to upscale their use of technology for social good from Vodafone NZ Foundation (Mobiles4Good Award).
- Leadership Award (sponsored by The University of Auckland) - Karina Kaufusi
Karina set out on her leadership path at a young age. When she was about 12 years old she led her intermediate school’s Tongan cultural group through weeks of rehearsals and costume-making before successfully performing at a cultural festival. She thrived on this early leadership experience and soon aspired to become a leader in her school community. At Epsom Girls Grammar School (EGGS), Karina led various cultural and sporting groups, co-founding the Pacific Student Committee to help raise Pasifika students’ academic results. She is currently studying for a Conjoint Degree of Engineering and Commerce at the University of Auckland, where she also holds the leadership roles of Tuakana Mentor and Tuakana Tutor.
- Creativity Award (sponsored by Weta) - Masuaga Pati AhSue [known as Pati]
Pati is a 23-year-old Samoan-New Zealander who graduated from the Manukau School of Visual Arts (MSVA) in 2011. Creative arts have long been a passion for Pati, with conceptual art being his main focus. Conceptual art is a form of illustration which delivers a visual representation of a design or idea before it is used in films, video games or animations. Because MSVA did not offer conceptual art as a subject, Pati decided to explore the art-form independently. He researched Weta Workshop and other industry professionals as well as delving into the art form himself.
- Inspiration Award (sponsored by Cogita Business Systems) – Barney Koneferenisi
Nothing has stood in the way of 18-year-old Samoan Barney Koneferenisi achieving his dreams – not even a major disability. At the age of four months, Samoan New Zealander Barney lost both his legs, his right hand and, four fingers on his left hand to meningitis. Through determination and a strong will to succeed, Barney has overcome this disability to become an integral member of the New Zealand Wheelchair Rugby Team (the ‘Wheelblacks’) and is also currently Deputy Head Boy at Papatoetoe High School.
- Innovation Award (sponsored by Air New Zealand) – Ranamila Joji Chute
Fijian-born Ranamila is a Year 13 student at Birkenhead College in Auckland and has long been fascinated by all things aviation. He is a frequent visitor to the Air New Zealand Aviation Institute and worked at a rally-car company during his summer holidays. Outside of his passion for aviation, 18-year-old Ranamila has displayed a strong community focus through volunteer work with his local church in Northcote and work as a peer-tutor at Birkenhead College. He helped establish the volunteer organisation Storm.co with his church youth group. Ranamila hopes that the Air New Zealand Innovation award will help achieve his dream of landing an Air New Zealand apprenticeship.
- Mobiles4Good Award (sponsored by Vodafone) - Douglas Quensell
Douglas is 23 and currently the only Tongan studying Electrical and Electronics Engineering at the University of Auckland. He hopes to “give back” to the Pacific community by designing a mobile cellular network that can operate in an environment containing many obstacles, such as the mountainous Tongan island of Vava’u and other Pacific areas. Through the University of Auckland South Pacific Indigenous Students group (SPIES), he has made visits to several schools in Samoa, Fiji and Tonga. He has been accepted into the Royal New Zealand Navy, where he hopes to travel to various Pacific Island nations and improve his understanding of radio communication systems and the electronic communication needs of the Pacific.
Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards 2011 winner updates:
2011 Leadership winner: Nadeen Papali’i
- Otara resident Nadeen used her award to offset her tuition fees for a Master’s degree in Environmental Engineering. Nadeen’s thesis is water quality in developing countries - a practical topic she is passionate about and keen to implement in the Pacific and other developing countries around the world.
2011 Inspiration winner: Jessica Papali’i-Curtain
- Jessica used her $5000 award money to travel with her husband to Cambodia in early 2012, where they volunteered at a training centre and orphanage for children. During her time in Cambodia she screened hundreds of patients to assess their health. Her ultimate aim is to use her medical training to address Pacific peoples’ health issues in New Zealand, and in the Pacific.
2011 Innovation winner: Cameron Hoare
- At 17 years old, Cameron was the youngest of the Award winners last year and embarked on his 32-week pre-employment aircraft maintenance training programme in January. Cameron completed the training programme on October 19 and says it has increased his desire to enter into a career in aviation. Having already qualified to be a glider pilot, he is now working towards his private pilot’s licence with a long-term goal of becoming a commercial pilot.
2011 Inspiration winner: Brandon Jackson
- Winning the award gave Brandon more motivation to continue his study towards a Bachelor degree in human services. With his studies completed at the end of 2012, he plans to use his award money to fund a trip to United States of America to work in youth centres and undertake further study. His ultimate goal is to become a youth worker in his home community of Otara.
2011 Inspiration winner: Joyce Toleafoa
- In 2013, Joyce will finish her education degree with a major in primary school education and plans to travel to French Polynesia to visit primary schools. She hopes to work on projects with local schools in the region and bring fresh teaching ideas back to New Zealand.