Ministry for Pacific Peoples — Prime Minister’s Award is a family achievement Prime Minister’s Award is a family achievement Skip to content

Prime Minister’s Award is a family achievement

Prime Minister’s Award is a family achievement

  • 24 Jan 2022
AU PP Iulia 20

If Janah Iulia Autagavaia had her way, she would have engraved the names of her grandparents, aunties, uncles and parents on the Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Award (PMPYA) she won recently. 

Iulia was announced the winner of the Auckland City Council sponsored Community Star category at the online awards hosted by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP), in December.

 The award recognises a young person who has made a significant contribution to the wellbeing of their local community, and this acknowledgement means the world to 24-year-old Iulia and her family, Iulia says.    

A proud New Zealand-born Samoan, Iulia feels pressure to succeed academically, and to be a good role model for her nieces and nephews. 

“I never envisioned myself winning this award, but it is definitely a reflection of my family's hard work they invested in me,” she says. 

“I have said this before, but if I could, I would have had my grandparents, aunties, uncles and parents’ names on this award, as I learnt to serve my community through them. 

“I have witnessed them serve their families, churches and villages gracefully and I would like to believe I inherited this quality trait from them.” 

The former Epsom Girls Grammar School student calls South Auckland home and cannot fathom living anywhere else. 

“I loved my high school experience at Epsom, even if I was in a minority group, it helped me become resilient and proud to be Samoan from South Auckland.” 

Always willing to serve and help Pacific youth, during her time at the University of Auckland, the Law and Arts student sat as President of PILSA (Pacific Island Law Students' Association). 

Iulia has supported, tutored and mentored fellow Pacific students through high school outreach programmes DREAM, MATES and NIU (Nurturing, Information University) and UniBound, and now with the end of her studies looming, she wants to use her conjoint degrees and practice Law, while supporting high school/university students through mentoring or tutoring.  

“I hope to ensure more Pacific students can reach their full potential in their education,” she says. 

“Whatever their goals may be after high school, they can walk away with a plan in mind - whether this is going to university, work or trades, our Pacific youth deserve to have the best chances and opportunities in front of them.” 

It is important to Iulia to share with her peers that service starts at home and there is no shame in serving others, she says. 

“I never fully understood what this meant before now but if you want to serve your community wholeheartedly, you need to serve your family first and the rest will flow into other parts of your life. 

“Being a Samoan tama’ita’i, tautua was a natural part of my life through endless tea making for elders, being present at family fa’alavelave’s to tapua’i and help out. 

“I learnt what it meant to serve and that it doesn’t mean you are lower than everyone else but instead there is a balanced level of selflessness and humility through service…service is a crucial part of Pacific peoples’ lives.” 

Visit the MPP website for more information on the Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards.