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Our Executive Team - Tautua

Our Executive Team - Tautua

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 the Secretary for Pacific Peoples Gerardine Clifford-Lidstone.

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

Gerardine March 2023

Gerardine Clifford-Lidstone
Secretary for Pacific Peoples

Gerardine is the Secretary for Pacific Peoples and Chief Executive of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP). She assumed the role in February 2023.

Of Samoan descent, Gerardine holds an MBA from Massey University and a Bachelor of Arts from Victoria University and is both a Winston Churchill Fellow and Salzberg Global Seminar Fellow.

Gerardine aspires to seeing MPP’s programme of work, and its people, continue to thrive and flourish under her leadership. She brings a strong organisational development lens and is committed to the Ministry taking a continuous improvement approach to the ways it delivers its services for and with Pacific people.

Gerardine has a deep appreciation for the skills and strengths inherent within our Pacific Aotearoa communities. She is passionate about creating opportunities for Pacific people’s voices to be heard around the table in key areas of influence, including policy, business, academia, social justice, and creative Pacific spaces.

Gerardine’s goals for MPP include becoming a best practice role model for cross-sector collaboration. She strongly believes that working in partnership for and with our Pacific communities under the All-of Government Pacific Wellbeing Strategy is the way forward to improved equity outcomes and empowerment at the community level.

Gerardine describes MPP as the government-level point of contact for those seeking ethnic specific Pacific knowledge, expertise, and links to the voices of our Pacific communities. She also sees the Ministry as a great incubator for Pacific public service talent, helping to grow a diverse and highly skilled Pacific workforce.

Gerardine joined MPP from her role as Director Pacific Health at the Ministry of Health. During her tenure, she led the cross-agency diverse Pacific response to COVID-19 and the establishment of the Pacific functions within Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand.

Gerardine previously held the role of General Manager, Child Youth, Localities and Family Harm at the Capital and Coast District Health Board.

Between 2015 and 2018, Gerardine was a self-employed consultant, including senior consultant for Pacific Perspectives Limited.

Between 2010 and 2012, Gerardine held the role of National Programme Manager, Sector Capability and Improvement at the Ministry of Health. She was Chief Executive of Taeaomanino Trust for nine years between 2001 and 2010.

Gerardine has held several community governance roles, including Chair of the Wellington Community Trust, and was Chief Executive of a Pacific social service and health provider based in Porirua.


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Tuaopepe Abba Fidow
Deputy Secretary for Service Delivery

Tuaopepe is the Deputy Secretary for Service Delivery for the Ministry for Pacific Peoples.

Tuaopepe joined the Ministry in July 2019 from the senior leadership team at Pacific mental health and addiction provider Le Va Pasifika, where he was Senior Manager. Over this time, he has held roles as Chief Advisor - Regional Partnerships, and Deputy Secretary - Regional Partnerships and Service Delivery.  

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

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

Tuaopepe is married to Malaetogia Jacinta, and has four boys – Francisco, James, Peter and Jonathan.

He is of Samoan descent and has held the Chiefly title of Tuaopepe from Gagaifolevao, Levaga since 2020. His aiga hails from Gagaifolevao, Togafuafua and Safotu.


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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.


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Leatigaga Jason Tualima
Deputy Secretary for Corporate Services and Chief Financial Officer

Jason is the Deputy Secretary Corporate Services and Chief Financial Officer at the Ministry for Pacific Peoples.

As Deputy Secretary Corporate Services, Jason is responsible for leading the Ministry in the areas of Finance, IT, HR, Procurement and Property. He is also one of the youngest Chief Financial Officers in the government sector in New Zealand. The latter role involves managing the financial and accounting functions of the Ministry, as well as being responsible for making sure public money is spent efficiently and effectively on the areas the government has agreed on.

Jason played a pivotal role in the Ministry’s successful Budget bids since 2019, which has formed the largest investment in Pacific communities, utilising Treasury’s Living Standards Framework.

As well as thinking strategically about what public support Pacific communities may need in the future, Jason has been working extensively across the government to enable the Pacific Wellbeing approach to investment to drive effective and efficient initiatives to serve our communities. He is also currently leading the digital transformation of the Ministry on the back of significant catch-up investments.

Jason has a track record of working in public sector and banking. 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 worked in the financial sector. 

Jason was born and bred in Wellington and is a true Hurricanes fan. He is the father of Patrick and husband to the lovely Sarah.


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John Tuamoheloa
Deputy Secretary for Regional Partnerships

John Tuamoheloa is the Deputy Secretary for Regional Partnerships at the Ministry for Pacific Peoples.

As Deputy Secretary for Regional Partnerships, John is responsible for leading the delivery and administration of key programmes and services, as well as drawing insights from our community relationships through ongoing two-way communication channels that shape policy development and service delivery.

Since joining the Ministry in 2019, John has been part of the Policy team leading the development and implementation of the Pacific Economic Development work programme, contributed to budget bids, and authored the cabinet-mandated All-of-Government Pacific Wellbeing Strategy. More recently, John has led the Pacific Aotearoa Community Outreach as part of the Ministry’s COVID-19 response work to keep Pacific communities informed and safe from the impacts of the pandemic.

Prior to joining the Ministry, John has had a varied working career that has spanned across business ownership, and leading organisations in the not-for-profit sector focusing on youth development, community development, community education, training and employment. He has also spent time in Europe as a former professional rugby player and Tongan international.

John holds a BA (Education and History) and a Postgraduate Diploma in Education from the University of Auckland and a Masters in Educational Leadership from the Auckland University of Technology.

John is a proud Tongan, hailing from his mother Vasiti’s village of Kolomotu’a and father Topuluka’s villages of Utulau and Lakepa. He is married to Maria and has twin sons – Topuluka and David-John.