SunPix Pacific Education Award

At the SunPix Pacific Peoples Awards in Auckland at the ASB Showgrounds on Friday 8 November, Minister Jenny Salesa presented two Pacific people with the Pacific Education Award.

The Ministry of Education via the TeachNZ Scholarship programme is the sponsor for the Pacific Education Award.

The 2019 winners are: PhD Tongan student Edmond Fehoko and Samoan head teacher of Western Springs College, Tupe Tai.

TeachNZ scholarships winners 2019

“One of the focus areas in education for Pacific students is to increase the number of Pacific teachers and school leaders we have in New Zealand and value the ones we already have. We know Pacific identities, and languages and cultures need to be more valued and respected in our education system,” says Hon Jenny Salesa.

“The TeachNZ Scholarships have been strengthened to attract more Pacific teachers to choose teaching as a career. We are very proud of this.”

Edmond Fehoko completed his Masters research in 2014 exploring the experiences and perceptions of New Zealand-born Tongan males who participate in the faikava (kava-drinking), and is currently finishing his PhD thesis in Public Health.

Edmond was also the 2013 recipient of the Inspiration Award at the Prime Minister's Youth Awards and has provided academic support for students throughout his studies at Auckland University of Technology and in his working role as Pasifika Academic Partner at Manukau Institute of Technology. Edmond cares about Pacific student success and he co-presented at the 2018 Pacific Tertiary Education Forum.

Receiving the prestigious award he says, “This is another way for me to repay my parents back and past ancestors who have come from the islands to navigate this country that we live in in order for us to pursue education.”

“I challenge our community to pursue education as their life pathway to change themselves, their families and the community in which they serve,” says Edmond.

Head teacher for Pacific students, Tupe Tai Pasifika, at Western Springs College, was the second recipient to receive the Pacific Education Award. She has worked in education for over twenty five years and has been a strong support for all Pacific students.

“This award carries with it all the responsibilities and duties that teachers have carried for so long. I think sometimes they get a hard deal but they have worked so hard,” says Tupe.

“For me also, it is about carrying our Pacific stories and making them come alive as Pacific people. I think it’s important that we do that.”

“We are following the footsteps of so many educators. It means so many things,” she says.

Countless students testify that Mrs Tai creates an environment for them to feel proud of their culture and excel in an environment where they are a minority.

She has been known to go above and beyond, visiting many students and their families in their homes, giving advice and providing academic and pastoral care.

Congratulations to Edmond and Tupe who are inspiring to many Pacific aiga going through the education journey in Aotearoa.

The next round of the TeachNZ Scholarships (including the Kupe Scholarships for Māori and Pacific High Achievers) will reopen on Friday, 6 December. 

TeachNZ Scholarships — TeachNZ(external link)

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