11 Dec 2013

High achieving Pacific youth recognised at Parliament

10:10 am on 11 December 2013

A top netballer who wants to improve Pasifika education and a former gang affiliate turned good are among the recipients of this year's Prime Minister's Pacific youth awards.

The awards recognise outstanding achievement among young Pasifika leaders.

The Leadership Award went to Ann-Helen Rasmussen, 23, of Samoan descent.

She plays for the Northern Mystics netball team and is studying education at Auckland University.

Ms Rasmussen plans to use the $6,000 prize to look at how to improve Pasifika results at primary school.

One of four Inspiration Awards was won by Edmond Fehoko, also 23, of Tongan descent.

He is studying at Auckland University of Technology and plans to use the $5,000 prize to do his doctorate overseas.

Mr Fehoko plans to return to help young Tongans avoid his own struggle for identity, and go down a different path than youth gangs and alcohol.

Other Inspiration Awards went to an Auckland law student, Mary Tiumalu; a community health advocate in Tauranga, Elizabeth Tuu Moli; and an aspiring clinical psychologist in at Otago Medical School, Manatu 'Ofa Mei Vailahu Fia.

The Technology4Good award went to Reina Vai from south Auckland, 24, of Samoan descent.

The law and arts student plans to use the $5,000 award to make a mini-documentary series about Pasifika success stories on YouTube and Facebook.

A sculptor from Auckland, Aaron Unasa, won the Creativity Award and a paid internship for one year at Weta Workshop.

The seven winners in four categories received their awards from the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs, Hekia Parata, at Parliament on Tuesday.