Finding Our Future Leaders

Getting more Pacific people into governance roles is the aim of a 54-page report released in late October. Launched by the LEAD Centre for Not-for-Profit Leadership, it examined the issues behind the reasons there were not more Pacific people in governance roles, and the challenges faced by those who aspire to such positions. 

Judy Matai’a, from the LEAD research team, said the O Le Ala I Le Pule O Le Tautua release spoke to the “strengths and the value” of having Pacific people at the table when it came to governance and leadership. 

She said the research was a culmination of work done by a dedicated team of Pacific people who shared a strong belief in the value of service. 

“This team...not only practice service to their community, church, village and families, but are committed to building effective governance with, and for, Pacific people in Aotearoa,” she said. 

The report came about because of concerns for the lack of Pacific representation on boards and explored why this was the case. 

Pacific people have historically had low visibility and representation on boards in the private, public and sports sectors, other than on Pacific specific organisations. 

According to the report, barriers to Pacific people’s participation covered many areas, including discrimination and racism, “gatekeeping” (people keeping the roles despite others looking to take part), recruitment processes and a lack of interest and confidence among Pacific people.

To combat this the LEAD group undertook a series of meetings, led by five experienced Pacific leaders with senior management experience from different Pacific backgrounds. 

The data collection methods included face-to-face interviews, Zoom meetings (during COVID restrictions) and an online survey of thirty-one young people who had expressed interest in being involved in governance. 

One of the issues that came out of the meetings was that of tautua (service), which was seen as an integral value of many Pacific people, and most of the people spoken to identify their involvement in governance as a duty to serve. 

Some started as volunteers on a small church or sporting board, others by default as a parent at the school their children attended. 

One Focus Group member said his involvement was a way of putting his abilities and skills to effective use as being on a board, particularly at an elevated level, was a platform to voice concerns of Pacific people as well as improve the visibility of his people. 

Others talked about finding value in their heritage and putting it to effective use and highlighting the Pacific way of doing things that are practical.  

“It’s as much the other side learning from us than a one-way transaction, letting them know that as Pasifika people we bring a different view,” another interviewee said. 

The information gained would be used as a platform to design a programme to reduce barriers, it included: 

  • Efforts to get younger Pacific people to learn and participate in governance, being coached, and mentored by a Pasifika leader 
  • Seminars and workshops to build skills, knowledge, and confidence of Pacific people 
  • Build the cultural competence of mainstream boards to increase diversity. 

“It is my hope that this research is impactful and leads to Pacific people stepping forward with confidence into governance roles,” Ms Matai’a said. 


0 Le Ala I Le Pule 0 Le Tautua

Pacific Peoples Participation in Governance in Aotearoa New Zealand.




Our Families, Our People, Our Responsibility

Pacific families and communities are safe, resilient and enjoy wellbeing.

Key Pasefika Proud change strategies   

Mobilising Pacific Communities through: 

  • Leadership 
  • Engagement and Education 
  • Community collaboration 
  • Messages, resources, tools, and support 
  • Research, evaluation, and expertise 

Capability Development with: 

  • Pacific communities and families 
  • Pacific leaders and influencers 
  • Pacific practitioners, providers, and services