The Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Awards were held last week. The awards recognise excellence and outstanding achievement by Pacific youth in New Zealand.
Auckland Council sponsors the Community Star award which this year was won by Emma Takataka from Ōtara. Congratulations Emma!
A New Zealand-born Tongan, Emma is a third-year law and arts student. The eldest of nine children, Emma’s values stem from the humility, empathy and love displayed to her by her parents. She has fought stereotypes throughout her life, and has overcome some of the negative experiences she had while growing up to become a source of strength to the people she works with.
Emma is a volunteer youth leader in the Tangaroa Ward in Tāmaki Stake of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. She volunteers at least three hours a week to help young girls aged 12 to 18 realise their true potential. She also helps run community activities. She is committed to fulfilling her duties and responsibilities to the highest standards.
She is also a member of the Ōtara-Papatoetoe Youth Council Advisory, which works with local government leaders in the area. This gives her the opportunity to be a voice for the vulnerable and unheard, representing the voice of youth in Ōtara and Papatoetoe. She says of her volunteer work:
“It is a privilege to have that responsibility and hope to help in developing projects for the community to grow.”
Emma is an engaged member of the University of Auckland’s Pacific Island Law Student Association and is involved in the Malosi Project (the Movement for Action and Law to Overcome Social Injustices), which motivates young people to share discourse on legal and policy issues Pacific people face, educate Pacific people on their rights and advocates for Pacific people in legal and political spheres.
Emma was recently elected her law school’s Cultural Officer for 2017. She has been mentoring disadvantaged high-school aged Pacific and Māori youth with the Great Potentials Foundation. Emma is also an entrepreneur, establishing a small health and beauty business venture with her sister in hopes of promoting self-confidence in others.
“I aspire in the future to work within institutions which make the central decisions to policy and legal issues which impact Pacific people …The award of doing a paid internship with Auckland Council would give me the relevant experience and exposure to an organisation which contributes significantly to my community on daily basis. From this experience, I could apply such knowledge broadly in all aspects of my life but specifically when working with Ōtara and Papatoetoe Youth Advisory Council.”