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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 Acting Secretary for Pacific Peoples Tuaopepe Abba Fidow.

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


Tuaopepe Abba Fidow
Secretary for Pacific Peoples (Acting)

Tuaopepe is the Acting Secretary for Pacific Peoples and Chief Executive of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples.

He took up this role in October 2022 following the departure of the previous Secretary, Laulu Mac Leauanae, to lead the Ministry for Culture and Heritage.

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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Marisa Maepu
Chief Advisor, Secretary for Pacific Peoples

Marisa Maepu is the Chief Advisor to the Secretary for Pacific Peoples. In this role, she provides strategic advice to support the Secretary to lead the operations of the Ministry and carry out their leadership role across the system.


Marisa’s background is in social policy, having held various roles at the Ministries for Women and Social Development, and management roles at the Ministry of Health, Ministry for Pacific Peoples, and Te Kawa Maataho Public Service Commission. She has led the development of numerous strategies, research reports and initiatives to improve outcomes for Pacific peoples.


Marisa has a particular interest in supporting the public service system to be more responsive to Pacific communities and growing a diverse and inclusive public service workforce. 


Marisa is a proud Samoan New Zealander, with her mother being from the Samoan villages of Faleasiu and Afega, and her father from Falelima. Marisa lives in Wellington with husband Kiki and two beautiful sons Mānoa and Manolo. 


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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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Fonoti Seti Talamaivao
Deputy Secretary for the Office of the Secretary

Fonoti Seti Talamaivao is the Deputy Secretary for the Office for the Secretary.  

He 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.


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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 Service Delivery and Regional Partnerships

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

As Deputy Secretary Service Delivery, 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.