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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.

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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. 

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Tofilau Iris Webster
Deputy Chief Executive - Office of the Chief Executive

Tofilau Iris leads the Office of the Chief Executive, where she is a crucial link between the Minister for Pacific Peoples and the staff of the Ministry.

Reporting directly to the Chief Executive, Tofilau has oversight of the Ministry’s entire work programme. It is with this oversight that Iris ensures the Minister receives high-quality, evidence-based advice in a timely manner.

As the head of the Office of the Chief Executive, Iris leads the Ministry’s Ministerial Services team, its nominations service and the communications team. In each of these roles, she plays a vital part in making sure the work of the Ministry is aligned with the Lalanga Fou vision and goals.

Tofilau has worked in the public sector for 25 years, the last three of which have been at MPP. Tofilau joined MPP having managed teams in areas such as diverse as Privacy and Official Information, international agreements, ministerial services, operational policy and communications. She has also worked in risk management. 

Tofilau is of Samoan heritage. Her father is from Alesa, Upolu and mother from Iva, Savaii. The Tofilau title was bestowed upon Iris from Iva in 2017.

When she is not looking after her mother and father and two teenage children, she teaches at a local Sunday school and is a member of a couple of governance boards. But family is what motivates Tofilau most.


Aiono Matthew Aileone
Deputy Chief Executive
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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Aiolupotea Sina Aiono
Deputy Chief Executive - Regional Partnerships

Aiolupotea Sina leads the Ministry’s regional partnerships team, where she plays a pivotal role in how the Ministry engages with Pacific communities across Aotearoa, achieved through teams based in Auckland, Palmerston North, Porirua, Christchurch and Invercargill.  

This means building relationships with community leaders and partner organisations, managing key provider contracts, attending events and helping to devise ways  to capture what the community is thinking. In leading this area of the Ministry ?partnership of the Ministry, the Pacific community and external providers, Aiolupotea has been crucial to the development of Lalanga Fou and the policies it has helped create.

Prior to joining the Ministry, Aiolupotea served in several Senior management roles at Manukau Institute of Technology in Auckland. Here she was able to pursue her passion for education and supporting young people across Auckland, in Tonga and Samoa.

Some of her proudest achievements at MIT include establishing the institution’s first Pacific Development Office and inaugural Pacific Strategy. A community focused leader, over the last 20 years Aiolupotea has served as a member and Chaired a number of governance and advisory groups, in local government, national tertiary education sector, regional NGOs and local community groups.

Aiolupotea has a BA from Auckland University and a Masters in Educational Leadership from AUT. Aiolupotea hails from the villages of her late father from Falelima, and mothers family from Faga in Savaii. She holds two chiefly Ali’i titles of Aiolupotea and Toleafoa, bestowed from her Aiga Sa Namualii in Falelima. 

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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.