Pacific contribution to Aotearoa recognised with New Year’s Honours

posted: 9:00 am - 1st January 2019
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(Picture caption: Associate Professor Selina Tusitala Marsh has received the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to poetry, literature and the Pacific community. CREDIT Stuff.co.nz.)

Pacific people continue to significantly contribute to society in Aotearoa - 14 have been named on the 2019 New Year’s Honours list for their services to New Zealand's community.

The 14 individuals have been honoured for their work in the arts, sports, health, the LGBTIQ community and for women.

Communities in both New Zealand and the Pacific region will be proud of the depth and breadth of contribution the Pacific recipients have made, and will continue to make to Aotearoa, Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says.

Traditionally the backbone of the community, Pacific women feature strongly in the New Year’s Honours, he adds.

"The New Year’s honours list once again reflects that they continue to be the strength of Pacific society today.”

Among the women listed are Associate Professor Selina Tusitala Marsh, who has received the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM) for services to poetry, literature and the Pacific community.

“Dr Marsh’s 2009 book the Fast Talking PI and her Unity poem, which she recited in front of the Royal Family at London’s Westminster Abbey for the 2016 Commonwealth Service are stand out pieces of work that put her in a class of her own, as a new-age trailblazer and a modern-day navigator in the field of poetry and literature in New Zealand and throughout the Pacific region,” Minister Sio says.

Named a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for her services to the Pacific community and as a poet, Dr Karlo Estelle Mila’s research and examination of Pacific cultural identities of New Zealand-born Pacific peoples has helped to break down communication barriers and to better inform debate on mental health in Pacific communities.   

A recognised expert on Tivaevae, the traditional Cook Island quilt-making, Tukua Turia also received a MNZM, for services to Cook Islands art and culture.  

“Mama Tukua recently led the Kuki ‘Airani Creative Mamas group in a collaboration project with fashion designer Karen Walker on a uniquely designed Tivaevae dress which was displayed at the Commonwealth Fashion Exchange exhibition at Buckingham Palace, and was later acquired by Te Papa Museum,” the Minister explains.

"Mama Tukua’s talent is so sought after, that the British Museum commissioned her to do a special Tivaevae for them, which she gifted on behalf of the people of Aotearoa New Zealand and the Cook Islands.”

Others named on the Honours list include Mele Wendt, Salamina Leolahi, Derek Teariki and Pauli Ma'afu, who have been recognised for their work in New Zealand's Pacific community.

Reverends Penetekoso Togiatama and Tauinaola Tofilau were also named for their community work, while Vaine Arai Areora and Luisa Avaiki have been named for services to sport, while Tanu Gago was named for his contribution to the arts, and his work with the LGBTIQ community.

Arbutus Mitikulena and Vic Tamati have been recognised for their work in health and anti-violence campaigns.

Lieutenant Commander Joseph Tupuola Peterson has been awarded the Distinguished Service Decoration.

In total, 196 people working across a range of areas - including the arts, business, education, science and sport - have received honours.

There was an almost equal gender split, with 99 women and 97 men recognised.

Pacific recipients of the 2019 New Year’s Honours:

ONZM

- Associate Professor Selina Tusitala Marsh, for services to poetry, literature and the Pacific community

MNZM

- Mrs Vaine Arai Areora, for services to the Cook Islands community and sport

- Ms Luisa Avaiki, for services to rugby league

- Mrs Annette Cherie Fale, for services to youth and Pacific peoples

- Mr Tanu Daniel Gago, for services to art and the LGBTIQ+ community

- Dr Karlo Estelle Mila, for services to the Pacific community and as a poet

- Dr Arbutus Mitikulena, for services to health and the Pacific community

- Mr Vic Henery Tamati, for services to the prevention of family violence

- Mrs Tukua Turia, for services to Cook Islands art and culture

- Ms Mele Luisa Wendt, for services to governance, the Pacific community and women

QSM

- Mrs Salamina Kaliatama Leolahi, for services to the Niuean community

- Mr Paul Hifo Ma’afu, for services to the Pacific community

- Mr Derek Teariki, for services to the Cook Islands community

- Reverend Tauinaola Tofilau, for services to the Pacific community

- Reverend Penesikoto Togiatama, for services to the Niuean community

DSD

- Lieutenant Commander Jan Joseph Tupuola Peterson, for services to the New Zealand Defence Force