Thirteen Proves to be a Lucky Number for Pacific Recipients

Thirteen Pasefika people have been honoured in the New Zealand 2024 New Year Honours List. Pasefika advocates, academics, artists, business professionals and sport were included.

Image Credits | L-R: Barbara Dreaver (credit TVNZ), Dr Cherie Maria Chu-Fuluifaga (credit Victoria University), Christine Mary (Kira) Hundleby (credit PMN, Dr Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni (credit Auckland University), Philippa Agnes Laufiso (credit Linkedin), Professor Yvonne Jasmine Te Ruki Rangi o Tangaroa Underhill (credit Universtiy of Auckland), Dr Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni (credit CCRC NZ), Rai Vaeruarangi (credit Facebook), Robert George Holding (credit RNZ), Sarai-Paea (Sarai) Bareman (credit FIFA), Silao Vaisola (Lemalu Silao) Sefo (credit South Seas), Tevita Filisonu'u Funaki, Tupe Lualua (credit Facebook)

Among them is Dr Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni, recognised with a MNZM (Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit) for service to education, but also for her work in the NZ Criminal Case Review Commission as well as being a member of the Pacific Reference Group of the NZ Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care.

She arrived in Aotearoa from Samoa when she was three, living in many areas of Auckland, but eventually settling in the west, where she did her high school years at Waitakere College.

The first in her family to attend University (although others have since followed the same path), Tamasailau did a law and arts degree, majoring in sociology. She went on to study for her Master’s then a PhD in sociology, exploring the relationship between law, culture and legality.

“You could say, I became a little pre-occupied with culture in law and culture in governance. I still am,” she told E-Tangata in 2021.

Another who stood out in the field of education was Professor Yvonne Jasmine Te Ruki Rangi o Tangaroa Underhill-Sem, who like Dr Suaalii-Sauni, received an MNZM, in her case for services to tertiary education and Pacific development.

The Professor, a researcher and teacher of Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland, said she was both ‘humbled’’ and ‘’gratified’’ for the acknowledgement as few Pacific people make it into the tertiary sector, and those that do work hard at getting more Pacific people involved.

CEO of The Fono, Tevita Funaki, was another to get an MNZM, for her service to Pacific health.

The Fono has worked hand-in-hand with Pasefika Proud over the years on many important projects.

But he has also found time to be involved with the Ministry of Social Development Pacific Steering Group as Chair, playing a role in developing a Pacific Prosperity Strategy and Action Plan, intended to shape cultural capability in response to an ever-changing context.

Another who can now put MNZM after their name is Lemalu Silao Vaisola Sefo, CEO of the South Seas Healthcare, a role he has held for more than seven years. The Samoan-born, former professional rugby player, graduated from Otago University.

He strongly advocates that achievements in Pacific Health result from embracing a collaborative village-style approach.

This includes fostering partnerships, not only in the health sector, but also extending to non-health entities.

A high-profile recipient, to the general public, would be Barbara Dreaver, a familiar face to those who follow Pacific and community news. Her work in investigative journalism and also in Pacific communities has led to her receiving an ONZM (Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit).

Describing her award as ‘’surreal’’, she told Radio New Zealand her job wasn’t just about telling people’s stories.

‘’It’s ... getting a result. If you can do an investigative journalism story that will change people’s lives, that’s got to be a good thing,’’ she said.

‘’That’s something I feel hugely privileged to have been able to do.’’

Other Pacific honourees in the 2024 list were:

Sarai-Paea Bareman who received a DNZM (Dames Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit) for her services to football governance.

Dr Cherie Maria Chu-Fuluifaga for services to education and Robert George Holding for services to Pacific literature and business, both receiving an ONZM.

Four more recipients were honoured with an MNZM, they were Christine Mary Hundleby (service to Pacific arts), Philippa Agnes Laufiso (services to arts and the community), Tupe Lualua (services to arts) and Makerita Urale (services to Pacific arts).

The Queens Service Medal (QSM) was given to Rai Vaeruarangi for service to the Cook Islands community. 

Pasefika Proud congratulates all Pasefika leaders and achievers and we celebrate as you hold these spaces as Pacific people recognised by the Crown. 

Key Pasefika Proud change strategies = Capability Development with Pacific leaders, influencers, practitioners, providers and services + Mobilising Pacific Communities through leadership, engagement/education, community collaboration, messages, resources, tools, support, research, evaluation and expertise.

Shared Pacific Values

Pasefika Proud Principles

Approach and Values

New Years Honours List 2024 – Pacific People Honoured

DNZM: To be Dames Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit

Sarai-Paea (Sarai) Bareman - For services to football governance
Sarai Bareman has been contributing to football internationally and in New Zealand for a number of years. Bareman was initially the Finance Manager for the Football Federation of Samoa and then Chief Executive Officer between 2008 and 2014. In 2014, she became Deputy General Secretary of the Oceania Football Confederation. In 2015, she was appointed as the only female member of FIFA’s Reform Committee, advocating for increased numbers of women in leadership and the prioritisation of women’s football. Consequentially, the first FIFA Women’s Football Division was established in 2016 and she was appointed as FIFA’s first Chief Women’s Football Officer, overseeing the delivery of the Women’s World Cups, the development of the game across the 211 member countries and increasing the number of women at all levels of football. She was instrumental in hosting the 2023 FIFA Women’s World Cup in New Zealand and Australia, the most attended women’s sporting event in history with a record number of attendees in New Zealand for a football match, men’s or women’s. That record was broken three times during the tournament, with the final number sitting at 43,217 attendees. Bareman launched the first ever global women’s football strategy in 2018, encouraging empowerment through football and growing the game.

ONZM: To be Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit

Dr Cherie Maria Chu-Fuluifaga - For services to education
Dr Cherie Chu-Fuluifaga is a distinguished Pacific academic who has been contributing to tertiary education for 25 years.

Dr Chu-Fuluifaga has held various roles with Victoria University of Wellington since 2003, where she developed the Pacific education leadership cluster in 2005 with five students, growing it to more than 200 students in 2020. She was the Bachelor of Arts (BA) Programme Director of Education between 2009 and 2011, serving on the BA review panel. She has helped introduce a range of outreach activities, extending pastoral care in the wider Wellington region to encourage more Pacific and Māori students to enrol at the university. She has designed cultural training and education programmes for a wide range of professionals including lawyers, judges, midwives, doctors and teachers. In 2000 she founded the mentoring programme for the Humanities and Commerce departments and has been providing leadership training for Pacific students at Victoria University of Wellington. Dr Chu-Fuluifaga has been involved as a volunteer in the Graeme Dingle Foundation since 2016 and has lead research projects for Ako Aotearoa and the Ministry of Education.

Barbara Helen Dreaver - For services to investigative journalism and Pacific communities
Barbara Dreaver is an award-winning investigative journalist who has dedicated her career to highlighting issues affecting Pacific communities for more than 30 years.

Barbara was co-owner of the Cook Islands Press from 1994 to 1998, before working for the New Zealand Listener and Radio New Zealand as a feature writer and reporter. She has been the Pacific Reporter for TVNZ 1 News since 2002, breaking stories uncovering social and economic issues affecting Pacific people living in New Zealand and the Pacific Islands. Her investigative journalism has exposed major fraud, drug smuggling, corruption and human trafficking, leading to multiple arrests and decisive government action. Her reporting of the 2019 Samoa measles outbreak won two major awards at New Zealand’s Voyager Media Awards. Domestically, her stories focus on advocating for vulnerable and marginalised Pacific communities. During the COVID-19 pandemic, she self-produced daily regional Pacific bulletins for distribution in the islands and exposed the inequalities experienced by Pacific people during the response, resulting in changes in governmental policy and partnerships with Pasifika providers. In 2020, she created a two-year training programme through the Pacific Cooperation Broadcasting Ltd to support new Pacific journalists across the Pacific region. Ms Dreaver was appointed as a member of the Establishment Board for the Aotearoa New Zealand Public Media body in 2022.

Robert George Holding - For services to Pacific literature and business
Robert Holding has contributed to the promotion and publication of Pacific literature through his Pasifika Bookshop store and publishing company Pasifika Press, established in 1976.

Robert established the bookshop to continue to preserve and celebrate Pacific languages and cultures and to provide a safe inviting space for Pacific people to own their languages and culture. He established Pasifika Press to provide books by and for Pacific people, coordinating the expertise of many Pacific writers, academics and artists to publish more than twenty original works. He published his first book ‘Tala O Le Vavau: The Myths, Legends and Customs of Old Samoa’ which has sold more than 20,000 copies. The most significant project has been the English and Samoan translation of Kramer: ‘The Samoa Islands – Volumes 1 and 2’, of great cultural significance to the Samoan people. He has promoted Pasifika Press titles and Pacific books through library conferences, Frankfurt and London Book Fairs, Pasifika Festivals and through targeted media such as Tagata Pasifika. He has assisted in the establishment of bookshops in Samoa, American Samoa, Fiji, Vanuatu, Tonga and Niue, and assisted with the University of South Pacific regional training workshops for writers, publishers and booksellers. Robert has developed joint publishing and distribution agreements to continue the publication of Pacific books.

MNZM: To be Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit

Tevita Filisonu'u Funaki - For services to Pacific health
Tevita Funaki has been CEO of The Fono Trust since 2010. Mr Funaki has transformed The Fono from a primary health practice in Henderson with 30 staff and some limited public health contracts to the largest Pacific community-owned organisation with more than 150 staff, offering primary, oral and public health, social services and training and employment services. He is Chairperson of the Ministry for Social Development Pacific Steering Group, Oceania Career Academy, and ProCare Health (PHO). He is former Chair of the ProCare Community Engagement Committee, ProCare Pacific Board, and Unitec Council Fono Faufautua Pacific Board. He was a member of the Board and Chair from 2019 to 2022 of the Pacific Business Trust. He holds a range of Pacific Advisory roles with Auckland Council, New Zealand Police, and Northern Region District Health Boards. During the COVID-19 pandemic, he led The Fono to set up drive-through testing, triage and vaccination marquees at clinics and in the community, and distribution of more than 3,000 support packages from Waiuku to Warkworth. He led his team to provide additional support and information to the Pacific community. Tevita has promoted getting tested and vaccinated, addressed misinformation and set up vaccination events to help the Pacific community reach the 90 percent vaccination target.

Christine Mary (Kira) Hundleby - For services to Pacific arts
Kira Hundleby is a multifaceted artist, creative producer, and social justice advocate for Melanesian and Pacific Peoples. Kira is Co-Chair of the Melanesian Steering Group to the Ministry for Pacific Peoples and has helped achieve national recognition of the Solomon Islands Pisin and Papua New Guinea Tok Pisin Language Weeks to be included in the Pacific Language Weeks 2024. She has been an elected member of Wellington City Council’s Pacific Advisory Group for six years. She co-founded Hundleby and Chalmers Productions in 2012 and has worked in creative production of community and national arts projects and festivals. This has included the annual Wellington Pasifika Festival, Waitangi Day, WOMAD and CubaDupa festivals. She is a member of the Public Programmes Team (Pacific) with Te Papa Tongarewa, the national museum of New Zealand. She co-founded Melanesian Women and Friends and was instrumental in organising the Wellington organisation’s dinner with the New Zealand Police in 2018, to encourage more Melanesian people to be recruited to the Police. She was Co-Founder and creator of the World Peace Day Festival 2015, working in partnership with local iwi, government partners, community organisations and Pacific communities in Dunedin. Kira has been active in promoting African, Melanesian, Māori and Pacific indigenous communities through music, dance, and creative methodologies throughout New Zealand.

Philippa Agnes Laufiso - For services to arts and the community
Philippa Laufiso has been an Education Adviser for Priority Learners with the Ministry of Education for Southland/Otago since 2015 and has volunteered as a Committee member, Trustee and Co-Chair of the Otago Early Childhood and Schools’ Māori and Pacific Island Festival, also known as Otago Polyfest. Phillipa was Co-Chair for the 25th Otago Polyfest in 2018, one of the biggest volunteer-run community events in New Zealand. She was involved with a collaborative project with the Art and Design Schools at Otago Polytechnic to produce banners for Otago Polyfest in 2012. She was a Trustee on the Board of the Otago Community Trust from 2013 to 2021, supporting the Trust to fund charitable purposes and provide grants to not-for-profit community groups. Ms Laufiso is an adviser on the University of Otago’s Secondary to Tertiary Transitions Project team and is involved with Dunedin City Council’s Ōtepoti Creative Workshop Development Committee, which aims to simplify and strengthen vocational pathways for secondary and tertiary students who want to work in the arts in Dunedin and Otago.

Tupe Lualua - For services to the arts
Tupe Lualua is a dancer, choreographer, actor, director, producer, and arts educator. Tupe helped establish Waka Ura Cultural Dance Company, who were awarded the Emerging Artist Award at the 2007 Creative New Zealand (CNZ) Arts Pacific Awards. From 2009 to 2019 she taught Samoan Performing Arts at Whitireia New Zealand, creating live works for performances in New Zealand, Europe, Asia, and North America. In 2013, she founded Le Moana and created works such as ‘Fatu Na Totō’, ‘1918’ and ‘Purple Onion’. These works toured internationally and won several awards at the San Diego International Fringe Festival. As a performer she featured in ‘PolyZygotic’ (2009), ‘The Factory’ (2011), Regine Chopinot’s ‘In Situ’ (2011 to 2013), ‘Marama’ (2014), ‘The White Guitar’ (2015) and ‘A Boy Called Piano’ (2022). From 2020 to 2022 she was the tutor for Movement and Creative Practice at Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School. In 2013 she established the ‘Measina Festival’, which today serves as an integral springboard for cutting edge theatre by emerging Artists. She produces for an award-winning artist and manages production for Te Kiwa Nui Festival for secondary schools in the Porirua region. She was awarded the CNZ Sāmoa Artist in Residence in 2019 and created a dance work on the importance of culture on Samoan ecology.

Silao Vaisola (Lemalu Silao) Sefo - For services to Pacific health
Lemalu Silao Sefo has been Chief Executive of South Seas since 2016, having joined the Executive in 2013 from the Counties Manukau District Health Board. Silao’s ability to gather wide support from the community and Government has enabled the expansion of support for the Pacific community during the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly the affected South Auckland Pacific community. He established the first Pacific Community Based Assessment Centre (CBAC) at Otara shopping centre, which included a permanent doctor to assist those without access to a GP. The Otara CBAC has since grown to include a COVID-19 testing station, food bank, and later a vaccination centre. He helped establish a Pacific Hub for Flood and Cyclone Relief, providing essential support to families who were impacted by the adverse weather events through food parcels, Pacific partners, and services. Through South Seas, he helped establish an 0800 Helpline with operators fluent in Pacific languages to remove communication barriers for families needing support and advice.

Dr Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni - For services to education
Dr Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni is a Samoan academic who has contributed to the New Zealand academic and wider Pacific research and evaluation community since 1994. Dr Suaalii-Sauni is currently an Associate Professor in the Criminology Programme at the University of Auckland. She has held lecturing and senior research fellow positions within the University of Auckland, Victoria University of Wellington (VUW), Otago University and the Waitemata District Health Board. She has held a number of university leadership roles, including as Deputy Director of Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland from 2007 to 2008, Programme director of Samoan Studies at VUW from 2014 to 2016, and Major Specialisation Leader in Criminology at the University of Auckland in 2023. She currently serves as a Commissioner in the New Zealand Criminal Cases Review Commission, as a kaitakawaenga for and member of the Pacific Reference Group of the New Zealand Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care, and as a member of the Peter McKenzie Project Committee of the JR McKenzie Trust. Dr Suaalii-Sauni has published widely in the areas of Pacific Indigenous research methodologies, Pacific cultural frameworks, Pacific mental health and addictions models, Pacific sexual violence research, Pacific jurisprudence, Pacific custom, and Pacific youth justice.

Professor Yvonne Jasmine Te Ruki Rangi o Tangaroa Underhill - For services to tertiary education and Pacific Development
Professor Yvonne Underhill is a Pacific development geographer, undertaking research and teaching Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland, and was Director of Development Studies from 2007 to 2014. Professor Underhill served as Deputy Chair of the Inaugural Pacific Performance Based Review Fund (PBRF) Panel from 2015 to 2018 and was appointed inaugural Deputy Moderator (Pacific) for PBRF 2026. Since 2016 she has led the establishment of ‘Tok Save’, the Pacific Gender Research Portal Reference Group, initially with the Department of Pacific Affairs at the Australian National University and now with SPC (The Pacific Community). She served as Co-Chair of the Advisory Research Group for Pacific Women Shaping Pacific Development between 2017 and 2019. Since 2020 she has contributed to the establishment of the Pacific Feminist Fund, an innovative investment and grant-making initiative to address gender inequality in the Pacific. Professor Underhill has contributed to the establishment of Oxfam in the Pacific since 2015.

Makerita (Vaosa ole Tagaloa Makerita Urale) Urale - For services to Pacific arts
Vaosa ole Tagaloa Makerita Urale has worked as a writer, documentary director and arts producer in New Zealand and internationally for more than 20 years. Ms Urale’s play ‘Frangipani Perfume’ (1998) was the first Pacific play written by a woman with an all-female cast and was listed in the Top 10 Plays of the Decade by the New Zealand Listener. This play became a key text in theatre studies and toured nationally and internationally to Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom. She directed ‘Children of the Revolution’, a political documentary which explored the 1970s and 1980s protest movement, following six key activists and their children. This documentary won the Best Māori Programme at the 2008 Qantas Awards. She directed and produced ‘Savage Symbols’ (2002), which looked at the traditional art of Samoan tattooing (pe’a) for men. A Fulbright New Zealand alumni, Ms Urale led the development of Creative New Zealand’s inaugural Pacific Arts Strategy.

The Queen's Service Medal QSM

Rai Vaeruarangi - For services to the Cook Islands community
Rai Vaeruarangi has contributed to the Wiri community since the 1980s through various organisations. Rai was a committee member of the Wiri Whānau Support Group between 1984 and 2008, which included time organising the Wiri Neighbourhood Police Team. She established a Cook Island language nest, initially from her own home in 1991, which later operated from the Wiri Community House until 1996. She has been Cultural and Arts Community Trustee of Akatokamanava Mauke Enua Inc since 2009. She has been involved in a range of displays and performances, including organising the Cook Islands Mauke cultural group’s performance at 2022 Te Toki Māori festival and co-organising the Te Mekameka O Toku Ipukarea Treasure of My Homeland display at Auckland Museum in 2021. She is a Community Champion for the Wiri Neighbourhood for The Cause Collective’s One Love South Auckland initiative. She volunteers on the Board of Iramoko Marae and the committee of Mataatua Marae Mangere. Rai was on the Wiri Central Board of Trustees from 1988 to 1995, including time as Chair, and President of the Manukau Central Kindergarten Committee from 1988 to 1996.