Samoan pride at investiture ceremony

Pacific pride radiated throughout an investiture ceremony for Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban, Caren Rangi and Liz Mellish, who were invested with their Queen’s Birthday Honours at Government House in Wellington. 

Samoa’s Deputy Prime Minister, Fiame Naomi Mata’afa and New Zealand’s Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio were among guests who attended last week’s ceremony to celebrate with the three recipients. 

He says it was a very proud moment for families and friends, for Māori and Pacific, for the Cook Islands and the Samoan community in Aotearoa-New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. 

Luamanuvao Winnie Laban was announced a Dame on the 2018 Queen’s Birthday Honours list, for her service to education and the Pacific Community; this follows the Companion of the Queen’s Service Order honour she received in 2011. 

Of Samoan descent, Luamanuvao made history in 1999 when she became New Zealand’s first Pacific female MP. 

During her career, she held the post of Pacific Island Affairs Minister; and in 2010 resigned from politics to take up the position as Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) of Victoria University of Wellington. 

An Associate Professor, Luamanuvao is the Patron, Chair and member for various Pacific organisations in New Zealand and abroad, and is heavily involved in the Wellington Pacific community. 

She is also currently involved in a project in partnership with Wellington City Council and Victoria University of Wellington to construct a multipurpose fale malae in the Wellington region. 

Speaking at the ceremony, Minister Sio says the investiture ceremony marks a milestone – where a Pacific woman is recognised as a Dame. 

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 “Luamanuvao is the first of many political women of Pacific heritage and others have followed through,” Minister Sio says. 

 “This is a very proud moment for me as a minister of this government.” 

He also expressed his gratitude and delight for the two other Pacific women who received recognition at the awards ceremony – Caren Rangi and Liz Mellish. 

From Napier, Caren has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM), for services to the Pacific community and governance.

An accountant/auditor who founded Ei Mua Consulting Ltd in 2008, Caren was National President of the Pacific women’s council PACIFICA Inc from 2015 to 2017, during which time she headed a number of initiatives and mentored other women into leadership roles.

Caren has been a Trustee since 2011 and Chair from 2016 of Pacific Island Homecare Services Trust; a Trustee of Te Matau a Maui Voyaging Trust; an Associate of the Centre for Social Impact New Zealand; and a founding member of the Charities Registration Board from 2012 to 2018 as well as contributing her services to the Pacific community in a range of governance roles over nearly two decades.

From Featherston, Whaea Liz has been invested as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to Māori and governance.

Liz has made significant contributions to mentoring Māori business in the Wairarapa, Greater Wellington and Nelson regions.

She has been involved in her working career in private business for over 40 years and has many roles in the public and private sector for Te Atiawa in Wellington and the Hutt Valley.

Liz is the Chair of Palmerston North Māori Reserve Trust; a Trustee of Te Wharewaka O Poneke and Director of the Company Te Wharewaka O Poneke Ltd which manages the day to day business of Te Raukura.

She is also a member of the Māori Heritage Council, a Director on Metlifecare Ltd Palmerston North and a Trustee of the Lux Light Festival.

Following last week’s ceremony, attended by many distinguished guests, there was a family and friends celebration at Pipitea Marae in Thondorn, Wellington.

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