Papakura Head boy en route to success

By Talisa Kupenga

Papakura High School student Shar Matafeo is one of 52 youth throughout the country lucky enough to receive a $12,000 scholarship package for the duration of their tertiary study.  The 17-year-old head boy says the First Foundation funds will help him give back to his community when he starts his degree next year.

Seventeen-year-old Shar Matafeo wants to study commercial law and business to give a voice to his community.

The Papakura High School student says "I saw NCIS and at first and I thought 'oh wow that's a really cool job' then my grandma told me, 'hey, you're really good at arguing, you just argue with your siblings all the time', so [I thought] maybe I should put it to better use and argue for what's right."

Matafeo says the opportunity will further build skills he's learnt through his family's produce business, which imports and exports overseas.

"I've learnt heaps from being the front guy all the way to the back paperwork, the real serious stuff,” he says.

“I've just touched base on making the whole cash flow, the break-even points, like how to minimise your loss and maximise your profit."

Papakura High School Principal John Rohs says, "He's highly motivated about being successful as a young businessman and I think as a Pasifika businessman he'll really be able to make a great contribution in his future life through what this scholarship will offer him and the avenues it will open for him."

The scholarship package, spread over four years, also includes mentoring, work experience and professional development from different business sponsors relative to the student's career paths. Most recipients will be the first of their family to attend university and three quarters of those sponsored are Maori or Pacific Islander.

Matafeo says the support is a once in a lifetime opportunity.

“[With] Coke coming on board, it's really pushed my aspirations out a little bit more now knowing that I have this big company that's got my back and they believe I can do it."

Matafeo and 35 others received their scholarships in Auckland last night. Two more ceremonies will be held in Wellington and Christchurch before the end of the month.