Leadership skills a winner
Karina Kaufusi is a leader among young Pacific Islanders – and she has an award from the Prime Minister to prove it.
Karina won the Leadership Award at this year’s Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards.
Sponsored by the University of Auckland, the award recognises a young person with strong leadership qualities and who demonstrates an ability to motivate others.
‘‘To win this award, I’m really humbled by it,’’ the 21-year-old says.
‘‘I’m really thankful for being given this opportunity.
‘‘Just being able to be a good role model for others and motivate others is something I’ve always prided myself on.’’
Ms Kaufusi is studying civil engineering and commerce and is in her third year at Auckland University.
She will receive $6000 per year towards tuition fees.
The prize will cover the cost of the remaining two years of her conjoint bachelor degree.
She was inspired to apply for the leadership award after attending a presentation by Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs representatives.
‘‘I didn’t expect to win it. I knew this year’s standards were really high.
‘‘When they told me I had won, I was really shocked and didn’t know what to say.’’
The New Zealand-born Tongan has been demonstrating leadership abilities since she was a student at Epsom Girls Grammar School.
She and two other students started the Pacific Committee of which she was chairwoman. It was established to support new high school students via an after-school tutoring programme.
In addition to her own study commitments, Ms Kaufusi is involved in the university’s Tuakana programme as an assistant tutor and mentor.
This involves helping new Maori and Pacific university students reach their potential through a combination of academic and pastoral mentoring, tutoring and wananga.
Her short-term goal is to graduate with first class honours but in the long term Ms Kaufusi plans to return to the Pacific to put her degree to good use.
‘‘It will give me the skills and knowledge to help the Pacific community.
‘‘I want to be involved in small projects like building a water pipe system to bring fresh water to schools or building new schools, ensuring they are structurally stable,’’ Ms Kaufusi says.
The Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards were presented by Prime Minister John Key at a ceremony held at the Beehive Banquet Hall in Wellington.
Young leader: Karina Kaufusi has been recognised in the Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards.