Inaugural scholarships honour late student

Emotional scenes as Milovale Matagi Tomasi, left, and Alicia Seleti were presented with the inaugural Penina Latu ...
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Emotional scenes as Milovale Matagi Tomasi, left, and Alicia Seleti were presented with the inaugural Penina Latu Scholarships, by the late students mother, Ofa Latu.

One year on from the sudden death of one of its top students, Kelston Girls College is celebrating Penina Latu's life through scholarships.

Seventeen-year-old Latu passed away after a short illness on May 16 last year. 

Her mother, Ofa Latu, last month returned to the school where her daughter excelled in the arts, culture and academics, to present two $500 scholarships to the next crop of talented young women at Kelston. 

Kelston Girls College student Penina Latu, 17, tragically passed away in March last year after a short illness.
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Kelston Girls College student Penina Latu, 17, tragically passed away in March last year after a short illness.

She said though emotional, the scholarships were "an honour to present".

"Not only for Penina and her legacy, but for our family this was very special and important to us," she said.

"All three of my girls attended Kelston so the school holds a very special place in our hearts. I pop in from time to time and always keep in touch with staff. It has been a long, tough journey but to be able to give back like this has been great." 

The mother of four said the family are still coping with their loss and the grieving "will never end". 

However Latu, now a qualified social worker, said the family want to stay involved with the scholarships moving forward and to continue celebrating her daughter's life. 

In December 2015, Penina Latu won a scholarship worth $12,000 for her final year of school and her first year at university.

She was involved in a wide variety of activities at Kelston and sat on a number of committees.

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She was a school librarian, peer supporter and a co-leader of the school's Christian group as well as a youth group member and part of the Tongan cultural group.

Principal Linda Fox remembered Latu fondly, and said she won a number of awards during her five years at Kelston.

Fox said the young high achiever had already started planning for life after school.

"Penina was focussed on studying medicine at university," she said.

"At school, she is remembered as a respectful and courteous young woman with a beautiful smile and a kind heart." 

The 2017 Penina Latu Scholarships were presented to Milovale Matagi Tomasi and Alicia Seleti. 

They were awarded to young women who were successful at NCEA Level 2 and showed commitment to the culture and philosophy of the school. 

Tomasi planned to study social work when she moves on to tertiary studies while Seleti wanted to study law with a possible conjoint degree in either commerce or arts. 

 - Stuff

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