Ministry for Pacific Peoples — Our Executive Team Ministry for Pacific Peoples - Our Executive Team Skip to content

Our Executive Team

Our Executive Team

Tautua is reflected in the Samoan proverb —o le ala i le pule o le tautua— the road to leadership is through service.

Tautua is a word in Samoan that expresses the cultural tradition of service to the family or aiga. It can also mean any service of an individual to a greater cause.

The Ministry for Pacific Peoples Executive Leadership Team is known as Tautua and is led by Secretary for Pacific Peoples Laulu Mac Leauanae.

Laulu and his team both serve Pacific Aotearoa and lead the Ministry with their Pacific knowledge, expertise and connections.

Laulu headshot

Laulu Mac Leauanae 
Secretary for Pacific Peoples 

Laulu is Secretary for Pacific Peoples and Chief Executive of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples. Since he started in the role in July 2017 he has led the development of a bold and unifying vision for Pacific communities in New Zealand, and has secured new investments and Pacific-led initiatives to lift the economic, social and cultural wellbeing of Pacific peoples.

Laulu actively contributes to the public sector’s diversity and inclusion programme and leads Pou Mātāwaka, which aims to eliminate ethnic pay gaps.

In prior roles, he was Chief Executive of the Pacific Cooperation Foundation and the General Manager of Pure Pacifika Limited, a company that exported horticultural products from the South Pacific primarily into Asian markets.

Before this Laulu worked in the primary healthcare sector for ProCare Health Limited. He was initially the Pacific Health Manager and within a year was promoted into Senior Management roles.

Earlier in his career he worked in Pacific community and business development with a role at the Pacific Business Trust. He started his career practicing as a lawyer.

Laulu holds an MBA from Henley Management College, UK, with his dissertation focusing on 'Community Participation in Governance'. He also holds an LLB from Auckland University. 

He is of Samoan descent and holds the Chiefly title of Laulu from Fa’ala. His aiga hails from Fa’ala, Iva and Sa’anapu. 


Aiono Matthew Aileone
Deputy Secretary for Policy,
Research and Evaluation, Languages and Housing

Aiono Matthew Aileone is the Deputy Chief Executive Policy, Research and Evaluation, Languages and Housing at the Ministry for Pacific Peoples. He leads the teams responsible for developing key policies and research to take forward the Ministry’s Lalanga Fou vision.

Aiono's role includes overseeing establishment of the cross agency Lalanga Fou DCE’s group and the Ministry’s business cases developed for the wellbeing budget. He recently finished a secondment as an Assistant Commissioner at Te Kawa Mataaho Public Service Commission.

Aiono originally joined the Ministry in October 2018 from the senior leadership team at the Master Builders Association where he worked as a Policy and Advocacy Manager. Aiono enjoyed a 15-year career as a New Zealand diplomat, trade negotiator, policy officer and legal advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. Aiono was involved in Pacific trade and economic issues including the Pacific Closer Economic Relations (PACER) Plus.

Aiono holds a BA and LL.B from Canterbury University and a Master of Business Administration (First Class Honours) from Massey University. He was admitted to the roll of barristers and solicitors of the High Court of New Zealand in 2004. Matthew was born and raised in Christchurch. He is a proud member of the Tafesilafa’i Samoan Catholic community in Christchurch. His parents are originally from the village of Fasitoo’uta in Upolu, Samoa, where his chiefly title of Aiono was bestowed.


Tuaopepe Abba Fidow
Deputy Secretary for Regional Partnerships and Service Delivery

Tuaopepe Abba Fidow is the Deputy Secretary Regional Partnerships, and Service Delivery at the Ministry for Pacific Peoples.

He leads the Ministry’s staff engaging and supporting with Pacific communities across Aotearoa, achieved through people and teams based in Northland, Auckland, Hamilton, Palmerston North, Porirua, Christchurch and Invercargill.

This means being stewards of the relationship between the community and the Ministry, as well as nurturing and supporting relationships with community leaders and partner organisations, attending events, and better capturing and elevating what the community is thinking.

Tuaopepe also leads the Ministry’s service delivery arm, responsible for several key Ministry initiatives nationwide including Tupu Aotearoa, Community COVID-19 Funding and the Toloa Programme.
Tuaopepe joined the Ministry in July 2019 from the senior leadership team at Pasifika mental health and addiction provider Le Va Pasifika, where he was Senior Manager.

Tuaopepe began his working career within the Ministry in 2001 as a Policy Analyst and has worked in strategy and policy roles in the Ministry of Social Development, Auckland City Council, and the amalgamated Auckland Council, where he was an author of the Auckland Plan, and led the development and implementation of Advisory Groups (include Pacific, Ethnic, Youth and Disability) within the Auckland Council governance structure.

Tuaopepe holds a BA and BCom from Canterbury University, and Honours in Political Science (First Class).

He is married to Jacinta, and has four boys – Francisco, James, Peter and Jonathan. His parents are from the villages of Gagaifolevao in Upolu, and Safotu in Savaii, Samoa. His chiefly title was bestowed in 2020 in Gagaifolevao.


Agnes Sefo
Deputy Secretary for the Office of the Secretary

Agnes Sefo is the Deputy Secretary for the Office for the Secretary.  

She leads the teams responsible for delivering ministerial and executive services, strategy and performance and business intelligence, communications, legal advice and governance and nominations services.

Each of these areas are critical to the Ministry’s strategic and operational functions to deliver against the Ministry’s strategic priorities. 

Agnes joined the Ministry in October 2020 as the Director Operational Policy, where she was responsible for Housing and Economic Development.

Prior to this, Agnes served at the Ministry for Social Development, where she spent most of her career in an array of roles including policy and governance, strategy and performance, ministerial servicing, risk and assurance and service delivery. 

Some of her proudest achievements include supporting individuals to achieve their personal goals and working in spaces that support better outcomes for Pacific communities.

Agnes holds a Master of Public Management Degree from the School of Government of Victoria University in Wellington. 

Agnes grew up in the eastern suburbs of Wellington and is one of four children. Her late father is from the village of Faleafā, on the northeast coast of Upolu and her mother is from Avarua, in beautiful Rarotonga. 

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Leatigaga Jason Tualima
Chief Financial Officer

As Chief Financial Officer, Jason is responsible for managing the financial and accounting functions of the Ministry.

Jason played a pivotal role in the Ministry’s successful Budget bids in 2019, which together formed part of one of the largest Pacific packages a New Zealand government has ever delivered. As well as thinking strategically about what public support Pacific communities may need in the future, Jason is responsible for making sure public money is spent efficiently and effectively on the areas the government has agreed.

Jason has a track record of working in public sector finance. Prior to joining the Ministry Jason worked at the New Zealand Defence Force and the Ministry of Health. Jason has also worked in the United Kingdom, where for two years he held a senior role in the financial sector.

Jason is of Samoan, Chinese, Irish and Dutch heritage. His Samoan heritage is descended from the villages of Sataua, Pu’apua, Iva, Salelologa, Fale’ula and Lepea.

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Terina Cowan
Chief Advisor to the Secretary for Pacific Peoples

Terina is the Chief Advisor to the Secretary for Pacific at the Ministry for Pacific Peoples. She is leading and developing the Ministry’s strategic direction to ensure the Ministry can support the aspirations of Pacific communities today and tomorrow through the realisation of the Ministry’s Pacific Aotearoa - Lalanga Fou vision.

Over the last two years she has been part of the team leading the development and delivery of the Ministry’s Pacific Aotearoa – Lalanga Fou vision, the development of budget investments and more recently the All of Government Pacific wellbeing strategy.

Terina joined the Ministry in October 2016 having worked across several central agencies. These have included the Environmental Protection Authority, Inland Revenue, the Department of Corrections and Te Puni Kokiri, predominately in the areas of Public Policy. Some of her proudest achievements are working in areas which directly contribute to better outcomes for Māori and Pacific communities.

Terina holds a Bachelor of Science from the Victoria University of Wellington.  Terina was born and raised in Wellington and has tribal affiliations to Ngāti Porou through her mother, and Ngatangiia in Rarotonga through her father.