Parliament is awash with young Pacific talent tonight, at an awards ceremony headed by Prime Minister John Key and compered by a 13-year-old Samoan school-boy.

Eight young Pacific New Zealanders have won five awards with prize money ranging from $6000 to $10,000 in recognition of their achievements and to provide platforms for further success and leadership in their studies or business.

These are the fifth Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Awards, and the winners have been narrowed down from more than a hundred entrants.

Actor and writer Oscar Kightley has been orchestrating a round of audience participation, but all eyes have been on Manurewa schoolboy Iavana Seuala, 13, who has been master of ceremonies for the event including addressing Mr Key.


Pacific Peoples Minister Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga, congratulated the winners as future leaders.

"These hugely-talented young people have the potential to contribute significantly to the future of our nation," he said.

"These awards are a launch pad for their careers and future leadership positions."

Business and Enterprise Award
Sponsors: Pacific Business Trust and Westpac.
Prize - $10,000 cash to invest in business growth and development

Winners: Black Bulb Company, Auckland
* Wilson Lesa, 18 (CEO) (Samoan)
* Raniella San Sebastian, 18 (Samoan)
* Mile Fonoia, 18 (Samoan)
* Naotia Atiana, 17 (Kiribati)

This group of final year Manurewa High School students borrowed an traditional Asian recipe for making garlic black, which they found in a catalogue, and then used it as a key ingredient in their own recipes for aioli and puree for sale at markets and food shows.

That involves fermenting normal garlic for about 40 days, turning it black and sweetening it in the process, before blending it with other ingredients in the school's commercial kitchen

"We really wanted to promote healthy product, using black garlic in a way that's never been done before," Wilson said.

The attractively-packaged products have proved a hit at venues such as the Parnell Market and the Auckland Food Show, and with food maestros such as Robert Oliver, Simon Gault and his executive chef Eugene Hamilton, who has been mentoring the group, all of whom intend studying for commerce degrees at various universities next year.


Although Mile will attend Otago University, at a distance from the other three back in Auckland, Wilson said they hoped to work around that challenge to ensure the company expanded into more mainstream food outlets such as supermarkets.

Wilson has already won the Lion Foundation's Young Entrepreneur of the Year award, and the group will take part in a full immersion "accelerator" programme to be run in 2015 by that organisation.

Leadership and Inspiration Award
Sponsor: Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs
Prize: $10,000 for training or leadership development

Winner: Sione Manuolevao, 24, Wellington (Tongan).

Sione is an ensign in the Royal New Zealand Navy who, after serving as an officer-of-watch on the bridge of warships, is now a platoon commander supervising "at risk" youth referred by the Ministry of Social Development to Limited Service Volunteer residential training courses.

In charge of six other service personnel, Sione's job is to instil qualities and skills in youth to equip them to become contributing citizens to society.

During the seagoing part of the career, he was in charge of the safety of 170 sailors while taking part in disaster relief, conservation and community work, each of which demanding different leadership qualities.

Many of those he now helps on Limited Service Volunteer courses, based at Trentham, are Pasifika youth.

He is also a mentor for his former school, Kelston Boys' High in West Auckland.
Sione plans to resume tertiary education in 2016, hoping to study politics and international relations at Victoria University, with a long-term goal in mind of working with youth development programmes in the Pacific.

Learning and Teaching Award
Sponsors: Youthline and Ako Aotearoa
Prize: up to $7000 for learning and development

Winner: Lauraina Funaki, 17, Auckland (Niuean)

Lauraina was chosen for the positive role model she offered other learners looking to her for her leadership abilities and academic success.

She has been a student leader of the Kaitora Whanau (house) at Alfriston College in South Auckland and intends using her award to study law and arts at university.

She wants to become a lawyer, working in Pasifika communities.

Lauraina has been a member of her school's choir and was a veteran of its Niuean Culture Group, performing at Polyfest contests. She has been involved in fund-raising and promoting the charity "Shave for a cure" for leukemia and blood cancer patients, and had been a leader in the MATES programme supporting younger Pasifika learners.

Arts and Creativity Award
Sponsor: Creative NZ
Prize: $10,000 to fund arts development

Winner: Thomas Fonua, 22, Auckland (Samoan/Tongan)

Thomas, who is away in Canada, has made a big mark on contemporary dance with the group Black Grace both in New Zealand and overseas, serving as a role model and mentor to many emerging Pacific artists.

He was invited in 2010 to the Banff Centre in Canada to take part in its indigenous dance residency, and the next year was invited back there for a pilot programme for dancers with high leadership, performance and choreographic abilities.

He is now a faculty member at the centre, mentoring, choreographing for, leading and performing with professional dancers of indigenous descent from all over the world.

Thomas plans to establish a dance company in New Zealand focussing on Pacific and indigenous contemporary dance, fusing his distinct style of movement with Pacific and indigenous history and culture.

Sports and Fitness
Sponsor: New Zealand Institute of Sport
Prize: About $6000 for tuition and course-related costs.

Winner: Paxton Maligi, 18, Auckland (Samoan New Zealand)

Paxton, from Rutherford High School in Te Atatu, is co-captain of the Waitakere City Rugby Netball Club Premier netball side, in which she has been identified as a natural leader.

She has led the club's Pasifika team to its highest finish, in the Trans-Tasman Secondary Schools Competition.

She has also captained the Auckland Samoa under-17 team, and helps to coach the side's younger girls.

She leads training with ease and has a great relationship with many others in the sport, in which she hopes to become an ANZ championship netball player.

Paxton intends studying for a degree next year at the Institute of Sport in Greenlane.