The Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) celebrated the future of Pacific health while also acknowledging the pioneers of the past at their annual PMA Scholarships Awards evening last night. The scholarships will provide support for two secondary students, ten medical students and one medical practitioner who have all shown a passion to improve the health and wellbeing of Pacific people in New Zealand and in the Pacific region.
Held at the Cordis Hotel in Auckland last night, the event was attended by the scholarship recipients and their families, life and senior members of the PMA and key partners of the PMA. A highlight was the keynote address from Tongan doctor, Dr Lupe Taumoepeau FRACS, who is New Zealand’s first and only female vascular surgeon.
“Tonight, has been a celebration of the future of Pacific health and we are all pleased to be together,” said PMA chief executive, Debbie Sorensen.
“It’s very humbling to see the future of our Pacific health workforce amongst us and to know that we have a bright future with all of these young people, who are just amazing.”
The six scholarships, worth a combined total of $90,000 for undergraduate and postgraduate studies, have been named after life members of the PMA who have demonstrated outstanding service for the Pacific community and are pioneers of their fields.
Two of the surviving scholarship namesakes were present, PMA CEO Debbie Sorensen and Tongan nursing patron, Violani ‘Ilolahia Wills MNZM, NZRGON. The other scholarship namesakes, Christina Atoa Tapu, Papa’ali’i Dr Semisi Ma’ia’i, Dr Leopino Foliaki and Sir Terepai Tuamure Maoate, had family members there to present the awards.
Sophie Papali’i, who is in her fifth and final year of study at the University of Auckland medical school, received the Dr Leopino Foliaki University of Auckland Scholarship. She says the acknowledgement is a great incentive for future Pacific medical professionals.
“It reassured us why we are here and has given us the encouragement to strive further so we can be of service to our Pasifika communities.”
Fellow scholarship recipient, Jordan Meddings, who is in her final year at Otago University medical school received the Papa’ali’i Dr Semisi Ma’ia’i University of Otago Scholarship. She says the award goes beyond any monetary benefits.
“As well as the financial support, hearing the stories about all of these pioneers in Pacific health and what they have contributed to our communities is inspirational. I’m proud to be part of this community.”
The 2020 Pasifika Medical Association Scholarship recipients are:
The Sorensen Pacific Health Scholarship
Violani ‘Ilolahia Wills Nursing Scholarship
Christina Atoa Tapu Nursing Scholarship
Papali’i Dr Semisi Ma’ia’i University of Otago Scholarship
Fuakava ‘Oe Tala’ofa Tanginoa
Dr Leopino Foliaki University of Auckland Scholarship
Maumea Peter Autagavaia
‘Uiha mo Ha’ano Fakatoumafi Fonua
Sir Terepai Tuamere Maoate International Study Award
Manufaleali’i Toleafoa Dr Viali Lameko
Date: 10 December 2020