Pacific recipients showed leadership: Minister Aupito

New Zealand’s Minister for Pacific People, Aupito William Sio, has praised recipients of awards in the New Zealand government’s New Year's Honours List with Pacific heritage.

He said in a statement issued by the New Zealand government that the work of 13 Pacific leaders were recognised at the recent New Year's Honours List.

“We are acknowledging the work of 13 Pacific leaders in the New Year’s Honours, representing a number of sectors including health, education, community, sports, the arts, media and the public sector,” he said.

Pacific recipients of the New Year's Honours List have demonstrated leadership, dedication, and tenacity with a heart for Pacific, according to the New Zealand government statement. Each of the recipients has made their own genuine difference that has impacted the communities they worked with. 

Aupito added that the work of the awards’ recipients was inspirational and focused on key areas critical to the development of the Pacific in New Zealand.

“It’s inspirational for me to see Pacific recipients get recognised for demonstrating such strong and compassionate leadership in key areas vital to Pacific development in Aotearoa," he said. “Four recipients stand out for their work in education, Pacific health, community, youth development and in the disability sector.”

According to Aupito, Afamasaga Vaafusuaga Telesia McDonald Alipia, who was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, has had a long involvement with Pacific early childhood education.

He said she was a key part of the Home Interaction Programme for Parents and Youngsters of which there are now 40 centres nationally and has had a dedicated career in the education sector with particular focus on Pacific specialisation pathways.

And Reverend Tumama Vili – who is now a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit – is a strong advocate for the Samoan and wider Pacific community in the South Island region, Aupito added.

“Reverend Elder Tumama Vili has been a strong advocate for the Samoan and wider Pacific community in the South Island region and has been appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the Pacific community.

“He has been involved in the Christchurch community for more than 30 years, including overseeing 11 Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (EFKS) parishes across the southern region, as well as coordinating Pacific Immersion programmes, and promoting positive education and health outcomes for Pacific people and in the wider community.”

While Dr Tasileta Teevale, who is also a recipient of Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit, has been recognised for her work on Pacific youth health and education.

Aupito said: “Dr Tasileta Teevale has been appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her significant contribution for her research work in Pacific youth health and education, in addition to public health."

She was instrumental in the establishment of the University of Otago’s Pacific Development Office and helped establish Associate Dean Pacific roles in each academic division. 

Her work continued to advance student leadership by creating Pacific student associations and led research into the enablers and barriers to Pacific student achievement and has advised the public sector through a number of significant forums.  

And the Queen’s Service Medal went to Theresia Selina Weir, which Aupito added recognised her work with the disability. 

“Ms Theresia Selina Weir’s contribution and service to people with disabilities have been recognised with her award of the Queen’s Service Medal. 

"She has been a key figure in shaping Auckland’s health and disability support system and helped groups who were often overlooked, especially disabled Māori and Pacific women, to gain the confidence to lead and build organisations that have helped their communities.

“This is just a glimpse of the important contributions made by all the Pacific recipients and highlights the considerable role they have played in supporting our Pacific communities.”

The recipients are:

Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit

  • Ms Afamasaga Vaafusuaga Telesia McDonald Alipia, for services to Pacific early childhood education
  • Mr Victor John Rodger, for services to theatre and Pacific arts

Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit

  • Inspector Tamuera Aitama Aberahama, for services to the New Zealand Police and the community
  • Mr Muipu La’avasa Sagaga, for services to boxing
  • Mrs Pauline Kei Smith, for services to Pacific arts and the community
  • Dr Tasileta Teevale, for services to Pacific education and public health research
  • Reverend Elder Tumama Vili, for services to the Pacific community

Queen's Service Medal

  • Mr Lester Dean, for services to the Pacific community
  • Ms Grace Sarina Hutton, for services to Pacific art and the community
  • Reverend Falkland Gary Fereti Liuvaie, for services to the Niue community
  • Ms Marthalina Mii Taru, for services to netball and the Pacific community
  • Ms Malia Nive Venning, for services to the Tokelau community and netball
  • Ms Theresia Selina Weir, for services to people with disabilities
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