The inaugural Pacific Cooperation Foundation Youth Leadership Awards has recognised 15 Pasifika recipients from New Zealand and the Pacific region.
The PCF awards acknowledge young leaders and their service to their communities in their respected fields.
There are 10 official award categories in total, with five awards especially set aside for Pacific students from the Pacific region studying in New Zealand.
PCF management consultant Afamasaga Jackie Curry said in her opening speech at the ceremony that the accolades encouraged and rewarded service leadership to benefit communities in Aotearoa as well as the Pacific.
“Pacific people are a growing, youthful and diverse population, so these awards are a tangible way that we can acknowledge and encourage the contribution and achievements of our young Pacific emerging leaders, as well as their families who have supported them in their journey,” Curry said.
“These youth leaders have demonstrated excellence in their fields and they will now in turn use their leadership abilities and skills to help give back to their communities and tackle the complex issues and challenges been faced by the Pacific region now, especially in the light of the effects of Covid-19 on regional economies.”
Auckland head girl wins top award
There were two special recognition awards that kicked off the ceremony. The supreme award for youth advocacy went to 18-year-old Aigagalefili Fepulea’i Tapua’i.
Tapua’i was head girl at Aorere College in Papatoetoe, South Auckland, this year.
“The last time I was in Wellington, I was five months old and my parents brought me down here from Auckland for a march against the Western Samoa and the immigration act of 1982,” she said after receiving her award.
“Being born and raised in South Auckland, I grew up in an environment where so many social issues compounded us all at the same time.
“It was not easy to be confident in myself while facing the negative stereotypes and representations, and so to receive this award is an honour and a privilege,”
The Supreme Award for Inclusion went to Shaneel Lal, an indigenous and queer Fijian immigrant studying a conjoint of Bachelor of Arts and Laws at the University of Auckland.
Lal is a vocal intersectional activist and advocates for indigenous people and LGBTQ+ communities. Lal is also an anti-gay conversion therapy campaigner.
Massey University student from the Solomon Islands, Hella Rore, went home with two awards, the most received on the night.
The Bachelor of Construction student was awarded PCF Le Afi Pasifika Creativity Award and PCF Top Pacific STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) Scholar Award.
Leki Bourke from Auckland was the recipient for the PCF Young Pasifika Male of Influence Award.
“It’s an honour to receive this award and to be the first recipient is special because it marks an important moment for me this year, given how 2020 panned out with the pandemic,” Bourke said.
“I plan to continue with the work I’m doing now, which is in the creative, performing arts space, and I am now interested in helping smaller Pacific communities out in the regions of New Zealand.
“I feel like Auckland is spoilt for choice and it’s time for us creatives to spread the work to other parts of Aotearoa where the demand and need is higher,” he said.
Full list of PCF youth leadership award winners:
- PCF Pioneer Award – Gibson Gala
- PCF Profit with Purpose Award – Minnie Voi
- PCF Le Afi Pasifika Creativity Award – Hella Rore
- PCF Top Pacific NZ Scholar Award – Vensel Margraff
- PCF Highly Commended Top Pacific NZ Scholar – Tiotio Maximo Lockington
- PCF Top Pacific STEM Scholar Award – Hella Rore
- PCF Young Pasifika Female of Influence Award – Sana Dita
- PCF Young Pasifika Male of Influence Award – Leki Bourke
- PCF Highly Commended Young Pasifika Male of Influence Award – Mose Tanielu
- PCF Health Ambassador Award – Dr. Brittany Stanley-Wishart
- PCF Highly Commended Health Ambassador Award – Emmerson Toomaga
- PCF Sport Ambassador Award – Lyric and Dhys Faleafaga
- PCF Top Pasifika Cultural and Language Advocate Award – Leulua’iali’i Satuala Christopher Tofaeono Tanuvasa