EIGHTEEN-year-old Vanua Levu native Ranamila Joji Chute made history when he scooped the coveted New Zealand Prime Minister's Pacific Youth Award for Innovation in Wellington yesterday.
The Pacific Youth Award for Innovation is one of only five given to Pacific Island youths in New Zealand.
Joji beat about 100 applicants to be the only Fijian on the list of awardees.
The award recognises a young Pacific Islander who has demonstrated innovative thought or action to solve an engineering challenge leading to an improvement in their community, church or school.
In an interview after his win yesterday, an ecstatic Joji said his prize was an aviation engineering course worth $NZ7400 ($F10,800) from Air New Zealand.
The budding aircraft engineer said he was still excited from the win that had given him a solid start to his future.
"It's really been an exciting day for me. I just want to give thanks to God. I want to be one of the best in this field and I believe that winning this award will help me to achieve that," Joji said.
"The win will allow me to start an aircraft engineering course with Air NZ and I'll get a four-year apprenticeship with them when I'm done," the former Delainamasi Government School student said. He said his aim to become an engineer was after seeing his father Alfred Chute work in that profession at Suva's Carlton Brewery.
Mother Asenaca Chute said she was proud of her son and the award reflected his hard work.
Joji was nominated by NZ mentoring program - the C-Me Mentoring Foundation Trust run by local John Kotoisuva.