Pacific pioneer Taito Phillip Field dies at 68
The first ever elected representative of Pacific descent in New Zealand's Parliament - a man who paved the way for many since - has passed away.
Taito Phillip Field died at 68 in Auckland hospital on Thursday morning the local news outlet Stuff report confirmed.
The former Labour party Minister holds the matai title of Taito from the village of Manase and the titlie Afisivalu from Saanapu.
Taito first entered the New Zealand parliament as the M.P. for Otara in 1993.
The Stuff confirmed the Samoan born former M.P. died on Thursday morning at the Auckland hospital.
Taito took up various ministerial positions outside of Cabinet during former Prime Minister Helen Clark’s administration.
He served as a Minister of State and as associate minister of justice, pacific island affairs, and social development, under Helen Clark's Labour Government.
He was also honoured in 1990 with a Commemoration Medal for service to the community.
A former M.P. from N.Z., Leaufaamulia Asenati Lole-Taylor paid tribute to the enormous contribution from Taito to the lives of so many people in the Pacific community and in New Zealand.
“He deserves to be acknowledged for his amazing work in improving assistance to the Pacific nations, responding with much needed solutions for our wider New Zealand society,” said Leaufaamulia in a Facebook post.
“He was an eloquent and effective Member of Parliament in representing his electorate constituents of Otara and Mangere.
“He was a fluent and intelligent tamalii with a big caring heart.”
Condolences from the relatives and friends of the former M.P. flooded social media expressing sympathies to his wife Maxine Gallagher Field and family.
According to Taito’s biography he is of Samoan, Cook Island, English and Jewish descent.
He left Samoa for New Zealand when he was seven years old.
The politician was educated at Tawa College, in Wellington, and at Victoria University, before working at Treasury and as a union official.
He was a Labour Party member from 1976 to 2007, and was the party’s first Pacific Island vice president.