By Gladys Hartson - firstname.lastname@example.org
Nine Pacific youth were acknowledged and rewarded for their contribution to youth excellence at the Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Awards last night in Auckland.
Speaking at the ceremony held at the Fale o Samoa in Mangere, Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern says the future is looking bright with the new generation of Pacific leaders.
"I sense that leadership is about giving back, about bringing people with you and about serving your community. The young people here are examples of that."
Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern and Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio with STEM Award winner Lupesina Koro. Photo/ The Coconet TV.
Winner of the Leadership and Inspiration Award, law student 'Asena Tolungamaka, says it's an exciting time for Pacific youth.
"As Pasifika, our population is so young. It's time for us to stand up and own our space and own who we are, be proud of it and know that what we have to say is important," she says.
"Our opinion is important. There is no one else like us. That is special, it's unique and that's something we need to capitalise on."
"There's nothing that you can't achieve, just look around at our Pasifika role models, our parents who have sacrificed for us."
Leadership and Inspiration Award winner 'Asena Tolungamaka. Photo/ The Coconet TV.
The Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says it's encouring to see more youth engaged with what's happening in the community.
He says it's important Pacific youth have a say in how we shape the future.
Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Award 2018 winners:
· Air New Zealand - Leadership and Inspiration Award (supported by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade): Asena Tolungamaka, 23, studying law is of Tongan descent, from Auckland.
· Ako Aotearoa - STEM Award: Lupesina Koro, 18, studying a conjoint Engineering and Commerce degree of Samoan and Tokelauan descent, from Auckland.
· Auckland Council - Community Star Award: Teri Tuuau, 22, studying law is of Samoan descent, from Auckland.
· BNZ - Commercial and Corporate Award (supported by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples): Hazel Umaga, 24, studying business is of Cook Island, Maori and Samoan descent, from Auckland.
· Creative New Zealand and Massey University - Arts and Creativity Award: John Belford-Lelaulu, 24, an architect who owns the social design business MAU Studio is of Samoan descent, from Auckland.
· Deloitte - Business and Entrepreneurship Award: Taylor McDonald, 21, completing a conjoint degree in business and design of Samoan and Maori descent, from Auckland.
· New Zealand Institute of Sport - Sports and Fitness Award: Monique Lawrence, 19, fitness student of Samoan descent, from Auckland.
· New Zealand Institute of Sport - Sports and Fitness Award: Elena Euese, 19, fitness student of Samoan descent, from Auckland.
· Pacific Cooperation Foundation – International Scholar Award: Charlie Sofe, 21, engineering student studying in Christchurch is from Samoa.