News Item

PCF award to acknowledge Pacific-born scholar in NZ

Success Stories 13 Jun 2019

Applications for the 2019 Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Awards (PMPYA) are now open. The annual awards is part of the youth initiatives of the New Zealand Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP) recognising outstanding achievements by Pacific youth in the country.

There are nine award categories and any young person between the age of 17 and 24 years, who is a New Zealand citizen or permanent resident, and who is of Pacific descent can apply for an award.

PCF will be sponsoring the International Scholar Award which will go towards a young person who epitomizes the strong positive relationship between New Zealand and the Pacific Islands through their leadership, community service (both New Zealand and home nation) and academic performance. This is the only award that is available to those who are citizens or permanent residents living in the Pacific region.

Successful applicants must meet the general criteria, and they also need to be a current recipient of the NZ MFAT Pacific Scholarship; a winner of the Top Pacific Scholar Award or equivalent awarded annually by all the NZ institutions involved with the NZ MFAT Pacific Scholarship.

The recipient of the PCF International Scholar Award will be presented with $10,000 to go towards their future endeavours.

The 2018 International Scholar Award went to Charlie Sofe (pictured above) from Samoa who was an engineering student at the University of Canterbury.

Read Charlie's story below as told by MPP:

Being at the top of his game is nothing new for New Zealand Scholarship student Charlie Viane Sofe.

For the past two years, the Samoan international student has won the Top Scholar Award at the University of Canterbury, recognising the hard work he pours into completing a Bachelor of Civil Engineering (Hons) degree.

After attending the National University of Samoa in 2013, Charlie successfully applied for the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MFAT) NZ Aid Scholarship programme, which saw him move to Christchurch in 2014.

Aged only 21, Charlie has already spent four years away from home studying, which has been amazing, despite a few hiccups initially, he says.

"Studying away from home was a massive challenge in my first year but things got easier as the years went by," Charlie says.

"I have learned so much, not only academically but also about being independent and adapting to a whole new environment.

"Making lifelong friends has also been a huge positive part of my experience here in New Zealand."

He keeps busy by tutoring Pacific Engineering students during semester and tutoring Pacific secondary school students during their holidays, he says.

"Success for me is watching these students 'get' what they are working on," he says.

Making his time in New Zealand even more outstanding has been winning the Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) International Scholar Award at the 2018 Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Awards earlier this year.

This award recognises a young person who epitomises the strong positive relationship between New Zealand and the Pacific through their leadership, community service and academic performance.

As the recipient of this award, Charlie will receive $10,000 from PCF.

"It means a lot to receive so many blessings from God I never thought would happen.

"Receiving an award from the Prime Minister is one of the highlights of my time here in New Zealand."

Charlie has set the bar high in terms of what he wants to accomplish in life.

Once he has completed his studies, he plans to return to Samoa and work for the Government to help with its development initiatives.

He also wants to use his Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Award money to help set up an Engineering firm in Samoa with his brother, who holds a Masters in Civil Engineering.

"It would be great to eventually expand this firm into New Zealand and be able to provide employment opportunities for Pacific people in both countries."


For more information and applications see here.