Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Awards Winners

2014 Learning and Teaching Award (sponsored by Youthline & Ako Aotearoa) – Lauraina Funaki

Since winning, 18-year-old Lauraina (Nuiean) is well on her way to achieving her dreams of becoming a lawyer. She has recently moved to Wellington to complete a Bachelor of Law & Arts at Victoria University. Lauraina has used her reward money to cover most of the costs of her tuition fees. The award has helped her settle into a new place at the University’s hall of residence where she is immersing herself in the Victoria University culture. In her role as a National Youth Leader volunteer of a Youthline initiative called National Youth Council, Lauraina has certainly been busy outside her studies too. The Council consists of selective youth members in Northland, Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch. Meeting twice a year to discuss events they want to launch in their own regions, Lauraina and her team organised a successful Youth Conference in Auckland called Unite, Ignite and Make a Change. She certainly has lived by this mantra by working hard with a positive disposition. “Regardless of your past and present situations, obstacles you’re facing, living situations at home and whichever field you specialised in or want to specialise, you can do anything you put your mind to.” Lauraina is aiming to be a lawyer who works with Pasifika communities.

2014 Leadership & Inspiration Award (sponsored by Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs) – Sione Manuoleva

Sione, 25, (Tongan) is currently training with the NZ Army, doing the year-long commissioning course to become an Army Officer which he will graduate from in December. Alongside this course, he is extramurally studying with Massey University History of Modern Warfare. “What I enjoy about history, particularly as a leader – is that history provides so many lessons learnt that many of the obstacles that lie ahead in the future can be mitigated by analysing the past.” He is putting the prize money towards undergraduate study for a BA, majoring in Political Science and International Relations which he will start in 2016. Sione says his motivation comes in bursts and requires a lot of energy, but once he finds it, it becomes sustainable when it turns into commitment. With a long-term goal in mind of working with youth development programmes in the Pacific, we are certain Sione will be using that commitment to equip our Pacific youth for bright futures.

2014 Sports & Fitness Award Winner (sponsored by New Zealand Institute of Sport) – Paxton Maligi

18-year-old Paxton (Samoan) is in her first year at the New Zealand Institute of Sport completing a Diploma in Sports Management & Exercise Prescription. Paxton has put the award towards her studies which she says has been a huge financial help for her and her family. She says she is extremely grateful for the award in helping her as she doesn’t have to pay much on her student loan. Having this burden removed, has allowed her to focus on sporting abilities and coach her past school’s Premier 2 Netball team at Rutherford College. Her U19 Netball team from the Waitakere Netball Centre in West Auckland was placed third in the New Zealand Nationals.

2014 Business and Enterprise Award (sponsored by Pacific Business Trust and Westpac) – Black Bulb Co

The former Manurewa High School students, aged 18-20-years-old, are busy managing not only their studies but their thriving food business too. The young entrepreneurs Wilson Lesa (Samoan), Naotia Atiana (Kiribati), Raniella San Sebastian (Filipino) and Mile Fonoia (Samoan), have been gaining a following for providing consumers with premium food goods. Wilson says the company's focus is to promote healthy food products in a new way. Their premium black garlic aioli is an example of this contemporary twist which gave them first prize at the 2014 food show. Aside from winning prizes, the group is also doing well in their studies with Mile at Otago University, Naotia completing law and business at Auckland University and Raniella and Wilson at AUT completing a Bachelor of Business. Wilson and Naotia have also started their own individual businesses which are in the product development stage. Naotia's business is called Solar Homes which offers affordable portable homes on wheels. Wilson’s business targets the energy market with his Tribe Energy product, a sugar and calorie free drink. Black Bulb Co will use their prize money to pay off their manufacturer so they can start the distribution process in local stores, along with investing their own money. This exposure will be a test for product development purposes and if all goes to plan, they will be targeting high ends stores. Expect to be adding black garlic aioli to your favourite recipes soon!

2014 Arts & Creativity Award (sponsored by Creative NZ) – Thomas Fonua

The 23-year-old (Tongan/Samoan) is currently overseas where he continues to make a big mark on contemporary dance. Thomas will use the award money to help establish a dance company in New Zealand focusing on Pacific and indigenous contemporary dance. He plans to fuse his distinct style of movement with Pacific and indigenous history and culture. Last year Thomas joined Australian Dance Theatre as a guest artist for the Indonesian tour of Be Yourself and made his Adelaide debut in Proximity. This year he performed in the Australian National Tour of Be Yourself.