Aspiring enviropreneur hopes to inspire others

posted: 2:00 pm - 16th January 2018
Antony Vavia2

Antony Vavia (pictured) envisages himself as one day being an enviropreneur.

The 21–year-old of Cook Island and Fijian descent dreams of starting a seaweed farm in New Zealand and throughout the Pacific region.

He is unsure how that part of his journey will pan out, but his pathway through university has been smoothed over after he won a 2015 Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Award (PMPYA) in the STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) category. 

In what is a first for the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP), which supports and facilitates the awards,  Antony has also been awarded an MPP Toloa Scholarship in 2017. 

Currently completing his Bachelors of Science (Hon) at AUT, Antony is continuing his marine biological studies while also learning how to apply geographical information systems (GIS) to his work.   

Speaking from the Solomon Islands, where he is doing research, he says after completing hisPhD, he would like to start his seaweed business.   

“I hope to inspire not only the Pacific community, but all of our Oceanic community,” Antony says. 

“I want to encourage others to really work hard to achieve their goals and to educate and provide opportunities for those wanting to learn about caring for our home and environment.” 

If seaweed farms are successful in the Pacific, it could provide local communities with food, jobs and potentially be beneficial for the region’s economies, removing stresses from tourism and terrestrial farming, Antony adds. 

“Once that’s established, I want to become the next Sir Peter Blake or Sir David Attenborough travelling and educating the world.” 

Receiving a PMPYA meant making my family and friends proud, being financially secure and also reassurance and affirmation to Antony and his supporters that effort and determination are powerful tools, he says. 

“It has opened up the chance to tackle challenges and opportunities that would be normally curtained by internally created financial barriers, but it is cool I have the chance to see past those barriers and stay focussed on the goal becoming a hero marine biologist.”  

Pacific youth just have to apply for the PMPYA, Antony says. 

“You won’t lose anything besides a few minutes of your time that could be worth the quality of the rest of your tertiary study, of your career, of your life.   

“These awards are a definite motivation booster and that is something which shouldn’t be brushed to the side… so get applying.” 

Supported and facilitated by MPP and a range of dedicated sponsors, the PMPYA recognise excellence and outstanding achievement by Pacific youth in NZ.   

The awards are geared towards giving Pacific youth the opportunity to boost their future potential even higher. 

Applications for the 2018 PMPYA are open and close on February 6, ahead of an awards ceremony in March (date TBC).

To apply for one of the eight categories, visit MPP