Celebrating success at the SunPix Pacific Peoples Awards

Issue: Volume 98, Number 20

Posted: 21 November 2019
Reference #: 1HA30m

The Ministry of Education featured strongly in two award categories at the SunPix Pacific Peoples Awards held in Auckland at the ASB Showgrounds on Friday 8 November.

The SunPix awards recognise contributions to Pacific communities and are nominated by Pacific communities from across Aotearoa New Zealand. 

Pacific PowerUP, a Ministry of Education programme, won the Pacific Service Excellence award. 

The Pacific Service Excellence category celebrates and recognises an organisation whose work makes an important contribution to Pacific families and communities. 

Acting Deputy Secretary, Rose Jamieson says, “The Ministry is honoured to have been nominated by the Pacific community and selected for this award because it acknowledges the success of programmes that take ‘by Pacific as Pacific and for Pacific’ approaches.” 

The Pacific PowerUP programme works with community providers to build parents’ knowledge of the education system so they are able to champion and support their children learning journeys. The PowerUP programme is for Pacific parents and covers topics such as NCEA, making subject choices, understanding school reports, the importance of literacy and numeracy, study skills, health and wellbeing, how to deal with bullying, and financial literacy. 

Pacific PowerUP contributes to closing the Pacific vā [cultural space] between Pacific communities and the education system through enabling Pacific parents, families and communities to genuinely partner and advocate for their children’s education. It also supports equitable and reciprocal relationships. 

Moe Sa’u, Programme Director, received the Award on behalf of the Ministry of Education. 

“Pacific PowerUP is our flagship parent education programme. A programme that is by Pacific and as Pacific. PowerUP is a successful example of creating culturally safe spaces where Pacific peoples can build their knowledge and confidence about their role in the education system.” 

“We thank the Pacific peoples in our 39 locations across Aotearoa who welcomed the Ministry and PowerUP into their communities, churches and homes.  We at the Ministry will continue to welcome your voices and collaboration to the work we do. We stand firm in our commitment to raise Pacific achievement by empowering our communities,” says Moe.

In addition to receiving an Award, the Ministry presented its Pacific Education Award sponsored by TeachNZ which recognises education excellence. Following a Scholarships Evaluation in 2018 completed by NZCER, the Ministry reshaped the TeachNZ scholarship to attract more numbers of Maori and Pacific people to consider teaching as a profession. 

We are excited to reveal that the two winners for our Pacific Education category announced on the night are Edmond Fehoko and Tupe Tai.

These awards and our winners in education are a great demonstration of what we discussed with diverse Pacific communities this year at the fono to design an Action Plan for Pacific Education. These fono included discussions around the need to support families to design education opportunities together with teachers, educators and leaders and to see an increase in the number of Pacific teachers and leaders in our education system.  

Congratulations to all our winners for their contributions to thriving Pacific communities in New Zealand.

SunPix Pacific Education Award – TeachNZ Scholarship Winners 2019

At the SunPix Pacific Peoples Awards, Minister Jenny Salesa presented two Pacific people with the Pacific Education Award. 

The Ministry of Education is the sponsor, via the TeachNZ Scholarship programme, for the award. 

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

“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,” said 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 master’s 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 AUT and in his working role as Pasifika Academic Partner at Manukau Institute of Technology.  Edmond cares about Pacific student success and in 2018 he co-presented at the 2018 Pacific Tertiary Education Forum.

Receiving the prestigious award, he said, “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.” 

Tupe Tai, head teacher for Pacific students at Western Springs College, was the second recipient to receive the Pacific Education award. She has worked in education for over 25 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,” she said.

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

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

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 Education Workforce Scholarships (including the Kupe Scholarships for Māori and Pacific High Achievers) reopened on 6 December.

Kupe Scholarships – Education Workforce(external link)

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 2:03 pm, 21 November 2019

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