AUT University graduate, student and employee, and 2013 recipient of the Inspiration Award at the Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Awards, Edmond Fehoko spoke last night at the 2014 Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards Ceremony alongside Prime Minister John Key and the Minister for Pacific Peoples Peseta Sam Lotu-liga.
Edmond described his university journey as a young Tongan studying at AUT and the challenges he faced. He also talked about the previous year after winning the Pacific Youth Award where he was recognised for his ability to inspire young people in the Pacific community.
“Benjamin Disraeli once said, ‘the greatest good you can do for another, is not to share your riches but reveal to them their own’. Thus, I fully acknowledge the work that God and my family and friends have done to reveal the hidden riches within me”, he says.
Edmond, who holds a Bachelor of Arts in Social Sciences and Criminology and has just completed a Master of Arts in Social Sciences researching the importance of maintaining cultural identity through cultural practices, also provided academic support for students in AUT’s Certificate in Social Sciences and Bachelor of Arts in Criminology.
He wants to help other young Pacific people retain their cultural identity and succeed without the struggle he experienced. Edmond works with various church and youth groups to address young people’s issues and to promote the values, beliefs and customs of Tongan culture.
One of the many community projects he is involved in is kalapu kava Tonga, which are informal kava clubs run every Friday and Saturday night. These are popular social gatherings for young males, including at-risk youth, where important social issues are discussed. The New Zealand Herald recently ran a story on his research: ‘AUT study: Kava keeps young Tongans out of trouble’ The New Zealand Herald, 1 December 2014.
“The dream is to carry on to do further studies, at the same time to find a career, especially here in AUT University” says Edmond.