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Pacific leadership highlighted throughout challenging year

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

The 2021 New Year’s Honours List highlights again the outstanding contribution made by Pacific people across Aotearoa.

Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon Aupito William Sio says it acknowledges the work of 13 Pacific leaders, representing several sectors including health, education, community, sports, the arts, media and the public sector.

He says all the Pacific recipients have demonstrated leadership, dedication and tenacity with a heart for Pacific, and each has made a genuine difference that has impacted on the communities they have worked with.

"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," Minister Sio says.

Four recipients stand out for their work in education, Pacific health, community, youth development and in the disability sector, he continues.

Afamasaga Vaafusuaga Telesia McDonald Alipia has had a long involvement with Pacific early childhood education and has been appointed as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM).

She was a key part of the Home Interaction Programme for Parents and Youngsters (HIPPY) 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.

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 (MNZM) for services to the Pacific community.

The Reverend Elder 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.

Dr Tasileta Teevale has also been appointed a MNZM for her significant contribution for her research work in Pacific youth health and education, in addition to public health.

Dr Teevale 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 several significant forums.

Meanwhile, Theresia Selina Weir’s contribution and service to people with disabilities has been recognised with her award of the Queen’s Service Medal (QSM).

"Ms Weir 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," Minister Sio says.

The Minister adds these examples provide 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 2021 New Year’s Honours recipients are:


Ms Afamasaga Vaafusuaga Telesia McDonald Alipia, for services to Pacific early childhood education

Mr Victor John Rodger, for services to theatre and Pacific arts


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


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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