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New Year Honours highlights Pacific contribution

New Year Honours highlights Pacific contribution

  • 11 Jan 2020
  • |
  • Samoa
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The New Year 2020 Honours List highlights the valuable contribution Pacific social entrepreneurs and innovators make to New Zealand, the Pacific region and the world.

Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio says the standout common factor underlining their contribution to Aotearoa is the value they place in their heritage Pacific cultures and languages.

“This underscores their unique innovative approach whether it is in the arts, education, sports, media or their contribution to youth, to name a few,” Minister Sio says.  

Among those honoured is Reverend Nove Vailaau, who has been appointed as an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to the Samoan community.

He has made a significant contribution through his work as CEO of the Congregational Christian Church of Samoa (EFKS) New Zealand Trust, working with central and local government to address social and economic barriers experienced by the Samoan community in Porirua.

The Reverend has been a Church Minister of the Porirua EFKS for 22 years and helped to establish cultural and faith-based community organisations aimed at the development of young Samoans and vulnerable youth in Porirua.

Parris Renee Goebel is an award-winning choreographer, dancer, singer, director and actress, who has been appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to dance.

“Parris is a global icon in the dance world, and she has worked with international artists such as Nicki Minaj, Janet Jackson, Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez to name a few.

“She has received several choreographer and dancer of the year awards for her outstanding contribution,” Minister Sio says.

Parris has also given back to the community in her role as an Ambassador for World Vision’s 40 Hour Famine in 2018.   

“She founded The Palace Dance Studio, which has grown from eight to nearly 100 dancers within two years and is now NZQA accredited.

“She is well known for her dance crew, The Royal Family which won the World Hip Hop Dance Championship three times and her Palace Dance Studio crews have also been successful winning awards at the World Championships over the years.”

Ane Ponifasio and her husband Pastor Lui Ponifasio both have been awarded the Queen’s Service Medal for their services to the Pacific community.

The couple established Radio Samoa 1593AM, which is a Samoan language station that also airs Tongan language programmes on the weekends.

In addition, they founded the Samoa Times newspaper that circulates not just in New Zealand but also in Australia.

“They recently celebrated 20 years of service to the growing Samoan community throughout New Zealand and Australia in the provision of political, social and economic views and opinions in the Samoan language.

“The Ponifasios have run their social enterprise business by connecting the Samoan communities and providing educational programming for audiences within New Zealand and internationally to improve people’s general welfare and raise awareness for Samoan communities.

“They have used their platforms to raise funds to support a number of community causes whether in sports, health, education or promoting faith and cultural wellbeing for the Samoan community in Aotearoa.”

The Ponifasios have been instrumental in pioneering the vision of Pacific2Nations, a global missions movement established in New Zealand to mobilise the Pacific region and especially young people to engage in global missions.

Both have been involved in community projects in South Auckland and have sponsored many events and organisations – they are well known as community leaders and role models. 

“The calibre of these recipients and their commitment to serving and supporting our Pacific communities in Aotearoa has been outstanding,” the Minister adds.

“Their dedication and breadth of work is inspirational, and I am confident they are some of the best role models for the next generation of Pacific leaders.”

The (Pacific) recipients are:

Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit

  • Reverend Nove Vailaau, for services to the Samoan community

Members of the New Zealand Order of Merit 

  • Mrs Sulieti Fieme'a Burrows, for services to Tongan art and education
  • Ms Parris Renee Goebel, for services to dance
  • Mrs Jennifer Sabina Khan-Janif, for services to refugee and migrant communities
  • Lealamanu'a Aiga Caroline Mareko, for services to the Pacific community and education
  • Miss Sonia Faiga Tiatia, for services to hospitality and youth
  • Mr Tiatia Ieti Fale Tiatia, for services to sport and the Samoan community

Queen’s Service Medal

  • Ms Suzanne Jane Hori Te Pa, for services to the Pacific community and youth
  • Reverend Evan Hope Lagaluga, for services to the Niuean community
  • Mrs Kolovula Murphy, for services to Tongan and Pacific communities
  • Mr Lui Ponifasio, for services to the Pacific community
  • Mrs Mereane Ponifasio, for services to the Pacific community
  • Ms Hellen Puhipuhi, for services to the Pacific community and education
  • Mr Teremoana Tauira, for services to the Pacific community

Honorary Queen’s Service Medal

  • Reverend Kalolo Fihaki, for services to the Tongan community