Edmond Fehoko believes in the transformative power of education – he has seen it in his own life and now helps other students to experience it too.
Inspiring young Pacific Islanders
Edmond’s ability to inspire young people in the Pacific community was formally recognised this month with a 2013 Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Award (Cogita Inspiration Award), which includes $5000 to spend on travel and personal development.
While studying towards a Master of Arts in Social Sciences at AUT University, Edmond is also employed by the university as a mentor for young Pacific Island students.
Transformation through education
He first came to AUT to complete his undergraduate degree after receiving a Vice-Chancellor’s Scholarship while at Kelston Boys’ High School.
“I grew up in a low socioeconomic area with nothing and now as a young New Zealand born Tongan male, I am the winner of a prestigious award. Education has illuminated a path for me to see a brighter side of life,” says Edmond, who says he was once a gang affiliate well on his way to becoming a crime statistic.
Support from many quarters
Edmond was encouraged and supported to apply for the award by leaders in the Tongan community and AUT academics including Dr Laumua Tunufa’i and Pro Vice Chancellor of Research Professor Richard Bedford.
Being named as a recipient of the Inspiration Award was an amazing moment: “While giving my acceptance speech in front of Ministers of Parliament, Pasifika leaders and academics, what stood out to me were the tears of joy of my family. That is a moment I will remember. I dedicate the award to my father for his sacrifice migrating from the islands of Kotu and Nomuka to New Zealand so that one day me and my siblings could live up to his dream.”
After completing the thesis for his Master of Arts, Edmond hopes to utilise his $5000 award to attend international conferences or workshops. His ultimate dream is to pursue PhD studies overseas.
The Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Awards
The Prime Minister’s Pacific Youth Awards were established in 2010 to inspire young Pacific people to reach their full potential.