This year marks the 8th anniversary of the Toloa Awards. The Toloa Awards recognise individual talent and community achievement and celebrate the advancements made by the Pacific peoples of Aotearoa in our STEAM subjects (Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, Mathematics).
The Toloa Scholarships support Pacific students in Years 9 through 13 pursuing STEAM studies, allowing students to engage in inquiry, dialogue, and critical thinking through Science, Technology, Engineering, the Arts, and Mathematics as part of a STEAM approach to learning. Toloa's Vision is to make a transformational impact in our communities.
The new Minister for The Ministry of Pacific Peoples, Hon. Barbara Edmonds, stated in her opening address that the Pacific is underrepresented in these areas and believes the Toloa programme has given the opportunity for our Pacific students to tackle issues of real-life context and the opportunity to solve significant problems that require innovation, exploratory learning and collaboration. She also stated that by 2028 she would like to see the increase of STEAM-related employment by our Pacific People rise from 2.8% to 8%, and through this programme, they look to make this a reality.
The atmosphere of the night was filled with warmth, joy and pride as the award recipients and their families celebrated their accomplishments and opportunities that will give them the best chance to prosper, grow and navigate into the STEAM world.
In an interview with this Digital Media platform, Gerardine Clifford-Lidstone, the Ministry for Pacific Peoples' new CEO, emphasised the significance of giving Pacific students the tools and resources they desperately need to master frequently complex subjects such as STEAM
She said “I know there are a lot more schools out there that have many Pacific children that have the ability and I would like to give them more opportunities.”
We also had the opportunity to interview some of the award recipients of the evening, and this is what they had to say.
Seru Boole, a recipient from Wesley College and of Fijian descent, spoke of his passion for helping others and his determination to pursue his dreams of becoming a doctor: “I'm into helping people, it inspired me to push myself to get this reward, especially in the pathway i am wanting to take into medicine, I want to be a Doctor.”
Esther and Siope Havili, siblings from Long Bay College and the only recipients from their school, spoke of the ease of the process and the importance of going for it: “The process was easy and simple and flowed.”
Eseta Rasmussen, a recipient from Marist College and originally from Samoa, spoke of the opportunities available in New Zealand and her dreams of studying engineering and science in university: “Coming from Samoa, we don't have many scholarships; I have learned that there are so many opportunities, and it’s a great opportunity that I have gained here tonight. It’s great for your future, and I hope to do engineering and science when I go to uni.”
The Toloa Tertiary Scholarship package includes tertiary tuition fees and compulsory course-related fees up to $10,000, for 1 year of full-time study for STEAM-related tertiary courses and subjects.
Toloa scholarships are also available for secondary students
The Toloa programme is exploring meaningful ways in how the Creative Arts exists within Pacific STEAM careers. This is a growing area for definition and programme development. For now, the creative arts are defined within the Toloa programme as creative and innovative skills, processes and knowledge that are transferable into STEAM careers. These include liberal arts, language arts, social studies, physical arts, fine arts, performance arts and music. Toloa has also begun accepting applications from those in vocational education.