Prominent Pacific health champion Faumuina Professor Fa’afetai Sopoaga (pictured) has been made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the New Year’s Honours list.
Faumuina is among 17 people who have been recognised for their services to Pacific communities in Aotearoa New Zealand in the annual awards.
A champion for Pacific Health at Otago University, the Professor has overseen changes in health education resulting in Health Science Pacific students succeeding in greater numbers, says Minister for Pacific Peoples Hon Aupito William Sio.
He says Faumuina was also instrumental as the Director of the Va’a o Tautai Centre for Pacific Health, leading the mobilisation of Samoa Doctors Worldwide to support relief efforts for Samoa’s 2019/2020 measles epidemic.
“And more recently she’s been representing New Zealand to support Samoa’s vaccination rollout,” Minister Sio says.
Among other Pacific recipients, is prominent South Auckland local body leader Alf Filipaina, who has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
A former Policeman, Alf Filipaina was the first Pacific Councillor elected to the Auckland Super City Council.
“Alf has also been at the forefront of the current COVID-19 response and is a champion for Rugby League in South Auckland, I think he’s just been a tireless champion for everyone in South Auckland,” Minister Sio says.
For promoting leadership in her community, Sina Moana Wendt, of Samoan descent, has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Sina developed the Mana Moana Experience for Pacific leaders, and has been instrumental in the expansion of the Pacific Music Awards to the point where there are now 18 categories for Pacific music.
“I am very proud of the calibre and tireless advocacy of our Pacific honours recipients,” Minister Sio says.
“I congratulate all the Pacific people who have shared in these New Year’s Honours and their families for their support and sacrifice over the years.
“It’s a great achievement for our Pacific communities across Aotearoa.”
The recipients are: