Ministry for Pacific Peoples — Toloa Fund provides vehicle for more Pacific people in STEAM Toloa Fund provides vehicle for more Pacific people in STEAM Skip to content

Toloa Fund provides vehicle for more Pacific people in STEAM

Toloa Fund provides vehicle for more Pacific people in STEAM

  • 18 Jul 2022

Toloa Tertiary Scholar Richard Bedford (pictured) says the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) initiative has played a major role in providing a vaka in not only his but the greater Pacific Aotearoa STEAM journey.

Designed to inspire and support Pacific people in their engagement with STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics), the Toloa Fund includes tertiary and secondary school scholarships.

Pacific people have been underrepresented in the STEAM fields for a long time and MPP aims to change this scenario with the Toloa Fund and shift Pacific peoples into STEAM employment from 2.8 percent to eight percent by 2028.

Of Solomon Islands descent, Richard successfully applied for a tertiary scholarship, which included tertiary tuition fees and compulsory course related fees up to $10,000, for one year of fulltime study for STEAM-related tertiary courses and subjects.

The Christchurch-based 30-year-old says the scholarship aided him in completing his Engineering degree at the University of Canterbury.

“I had already been working in the civil infrastructure industry for the last decade and have contributed to some major projects in Canterbury, especially the Christchurch Southern Motorway, Christchurch Northern Corridor, and Lyttelton Tunnel Deluge,” Richard says.

“I’m really passionate about my work and the industry since it has positively impacted the communities using the services, so I decided to further develop my knowledge by getting an NZQA qualification and contribute more to serving the people in the communities.”

Following university, Richard has secured several graduate roles, however, at the same time, he would like to be part of something which encourages and engages Pacific people in Aotearoa to increase their participation in STEAM.

“Current statistics show a need for Pacific people to participate in STEAM,” he says.

“Our ancestry history tells us our forefathers were navigators, innovators and critical thinkers.

“Therefore, it is most probable we possess these instilled skills, and if blended with the right passion, we can take humanity to the edge of the universe.”  

While Toloa has played a very important role in providing a vaka in the STEAM journey, it is time to build a bigger vaka, he adds.

“A larger vaka is essential to take onboard more Pacific people in the STEAM journey to meet the growing demand in the industry.”

Applications are currently open for 2023 Toloa Tertiary and Secondary School Scholarships, and close on August 5.

Visit the MPP website to find more information and apply.