Pacific leaders applauded in NZ’s New Year’s Honours list

Gongs highlight the importance of diversity and inclusion

Pacific leaders applauded in NZ’s New Year’s Honours list

NZ’s New Year’s Honours list has recognised the immense achievements of Pacific leaders after a challenging year.

Thirteen Pacific leaders working across a diverse range of industries were honoured in this year’s list.

It comes as the country was applauded for its diversity and representation among the newly elected Labour government.

Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio said it was inspirational to see so many leaders working hard to improve the lives of Pacific people.

“These recipients have all 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,” he said.

“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.”

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Sio paid special mention to four recipients, including Afamasaga Vaafusuaga Telesia McDonald Alipia who has dedicated her career to Pacific early childhood education and Theresia Selina Weir who is a key figure in shaping Auckland’s health and disability support system.

Reverend Elder Tumama Vili was awarded for his work promoting positive health and education in Christchurch, while Dr Tasileta Teevale was appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her research work in Pacific youth health and education.

The list of 154 honour recipients includes two appointments to NZ’s highest honour, The Order of New Zealand, and the appointments of three Dames and four Knights.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said despite the hurdles of 2020, Kiwis rose to the challenges of the Covid pandemic.

Among the awardees were many notable figures in the scientific community and those who worked tirelessly in the response to COVID-19.

Read more: Timely names Mary Haddock-Staniland as NZ’s first chief people inclusion officer

“The past year has been one that few of us could have imagined. In spite of all the things that have tested us, the contributions and achievements of the people honoured today remind us of the amazing Kiwis among us,” Ardern said.

Ardern’s cabinet made history last year as the most diverse ever.

Her team includes eight women as well as five ministers who are Māori, three Pasifika and three who are LGBT.

Diversity Works New Zealand chief executive Maretha Smit described the diverse nature of New Zealand’s Parliament as a “cause for celebration”.

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