Conference Speaker Bios

Pacific Data Sovereignty Chairperson

Ivan Tava

Currently working at Price Waterhouse Cooper (PwC) New Zealand, Director – Consulting Lead Ōtautahi (Christchurch) me Te Waipounamu (South Island). Having leadership and team management capabilities at a national and regional level, Ivan has significant expertise in leading, coordinating, and prioritising to achieve goals. His qualifications, professional experience and unique skills reflect robust knowledge of biculturalism in Aotearoa and continuing commitment to Pasifika Education and communities. 

His proven understanding of the political environment and strategic implications on the project and programme implementation; has enabled and established responsive work plans. Furthermore, his extensive networks and is a well-respected member of the public sector with particularly strong relationships and credibility within the Māori and Pasifika communities throughout New Zealand have been beneficial

Pacific Data Sovereignty Conference Keynote Speakers

Taimalieutu Kiwi Tamasese
The Family Centre

Taimalieutu Kiwi Tamasese is Coordinator of the Pacific Section of the Family Centre.
She specialises in research of Pacific people – for example in relation to mental health, poverty, housing, unemployment, cultural and gender equity.
In relation to social policy analysis, Kiwi is engaged in the development of new social policy perspectives emanating from various Pacific cultural rationalities. She is also concerned with the impact of government policy decisions on the Pacific Sector of New Zealand society.

Sioeli Tonga
International Speaker – Pacific Data Hub Pacific Community

Sioeli is the Program Manager for the Pacific Data Hub, an open data initiative led by the Pacific Community (SPC). His role at SPC sits at the intersection of digital technology and international development. He is passionate about initiatives that harness the potential of data and digital technology to empower teams and inspire people to bring about positive change. 

Sioeli hails from the villages of Lapaha, Tu’anuku and Ha’ateiho in the Kingdom of Tonga. He spent his formative years in Tongatapu New Zealand and identifies very much as a Tongan Kiwi.

Sioeli has worked as an IT professional in NZ for over 10 years performing infrastructure engineering, systems integration, and architecture design roles for public and private sector organisations. He worked on large-scale digital infrastructure and business transformation projects before leaving NZ to serve in the Pacific.

For the last 13 years, Sioeli has been based in Noumea, New Caledonia, with his wife and three daughters. He serves as one of SPC’s lead advocates for Open Data. He is championing responsible and ethical data stewardship and building partnerships in data to support the Pacific region’s sustainable development goals.

Fa’anānā Efeso Collins

Born and raised in Ōtara, south Auckland, Efeso Collins is of Samoan and Tokelauan descent. His parents emigrated from Samoa in the early 1960’s. Efeso is the youngest of six children, and the first in his family to attend and graduate from university. He holds the Samoan chiefly matai title Fa’anana from his mother’s village in Satupaitea, Savaii.

Former elected member of the Auckland Council. A former university lecturer in Education and Youth Development, Collins is passionate about young people and seeing them realise their full potential. He has facilitated and designed youth development programmes over many years and advocate for the aspirations of youth and under-represented groups. He mentors young Pasifika men and speaks often on emerging and inclusive leadership, and cultural humility.

Efeso lives in Ōtāhuhu, south Auckland with his wife Fia and their two daughters. He is often seen shopping and swimming in his local area and well known for his love of coffee and community engagement

Leilani Unasa
Director of Policy – Ministry for Pacific Peoples

Leilani Unasa is currently Director of Policy at the Ministry for Pacific Peoples. She oversees two policy teams and a work programme that includes delivering the Ministry’s first Long Term Insights Briefing; the All-of-Government Pacific Wellbeing Strategy, the Pacific Employment Action Plan, and second opinion advice in the Ministry’s role as principal advisor to the Crown on policies and interventions for Pacific peoples in Aotearoa.
        Leilani has been a public servant, on and off, for more than 20 years. As well as central government, Leilani has worked in local government, NGOs, social innovation, arts and culture, and is also Chair of the Tuilaepa Youth Mentoring Service Trust based in Ranui.

Simon Mason
Deputy Chief Executive – Stats NZ

Simon joined Stats NZ in July 2020. Previously Simon had been the Acting Deputy Commissioner, Corporate Integrity and Assurance at Inland Revenue. Prior to that, he led the Commercial and Procurement function as well as a member of the Inland Revenue Business Transformation Programme leadership team. Simon has held senior roles in both private and public organisations and is a member of the Institute of Directors. Simon’s notable commercial and programme experience, coupled with his role of sponsor for Inland Revenue’s Māori engagement unit, Māhutonga, makes him uniquely suited for the Census 2023 Senior Responsible Officer role.

Dr. Corina Grey
 Manatū Hauora | Ministry of Health

Dr Corina Grey is a Samoan public health physician and epidemiologist. She is currently Chief Clinical Advisor Pacific Health at Manatū Hauora (Ministry of Health) and co-principal investigator of Manawataki Fatu Fatu, a research programme funded by Healthier Lives and the Heart Foundation focused on heart health equity for Māori and Pacific people in Aotearoa.

Dr. William Reedy
CEO – Spark Health

Dr. William Reedy is the CEO of Spark Health. William is passionate about improving health outcomes with Digital Health. William has over twenty years of Digital Health consulting and solutions experience across NZ, Australia, Asia, North America, the UK and Europe.

His field of expertise includes: Digital Health Strategy, Digital Health Transformation and Digital Health Solution Distribution

Through Nautilus Health, William and his team also resells and implements the world’s leading cloud-based Ambulance Electronic Health Record Solution (Siren ePCR) and OnBoard Mobile Gateways to Ambulance Services across the Asia-Pacific Region.William also continues to practice clinical medicine as a surgical doctor in large tertiary hospitals in Auckland, New Zealand.

To’e Lokeni & Mannfred Sofara
Fa’amalosi App

Mannfred Sofara and To’e Lokeni are Year 13 students from Bishop Viard college. They are both Samoan born living in Porirua, having moved to New Zealand when they were younger.

Mannfred and To’e leaders in their school, being head boy and deputy headboy respectively.

They have had awesome success with their business “Fa’amalosi Say It Right”, having received a National Yes Enterprise Award for smart technology. They see themselves as all rounders, have experience in public speaking, and have had oppurtunities to be on national television. They advocate to address inequity and have created a business as a response to this. They are equally passionate about rugby, with their Saturday rugby games often being the highlight of their weeks.

The most important things in their lives are their family and faith. They draw strength from their parents, their ‘aiga and the values they have been taught by them. Their family has expectations for them to work hard, which has helped to instill a good work ethic in both and allow them to help others around them. Both are fortunate to be living with large families, including their grandparents, having 8 members of their households. Having been in such an enriching environment from a young age they have learnt it’s about the “we” never the “I”. They are both expected to do their daily chores and contribute to their families while working.


Pacific Data Sovereignty Conference Plenary Speakers

Magele Maria Uluilelata
Workforce Development Council

Maria Uluilelata has a career portfolio that covers a wide range of experience across government, education and community sectors.  This includes roles in governance, learning and development, facilitation as well as voluntary work for a number of community organisations including serving as a Board of Trustee for over 20 years, represents the Council for Trade Unions on the inquiry for the Pacific Pay Gap with the Human Rights Commission and sits on a variety of governing boards.

She is actively engaged and demonstrates service through action and is the Senior Pacific Lead for Ohu Mahi – Workforce Development Councils.   She has a strong desire to build leaders through mentoring and being accessible to help others.  She hails from the villages of Luatuanu’u, Afega, Iva and Nofoali’i in Samoa and resides in Porirua Wellington.

Dr. Jean Mitaera
Whitireia, WelTec, Te Pukenga

Dr Jean Mitaera is of Maori Cook Island decent with 30 plus years in social work education and research. She is a stalwart of PACIFICA Inc, raised in PIPC Newtown and Trustee for Centre for Pacific Languages and Taeaomanino Trust. Chief Advisor Pacific, Whitireia WelTec (Portfolios: Pacific Health and Research, Social Practice and Pacific success).

Shane Ta’ala
Principal Design Advisor 
Te Tohu Rautaki Angitū Māori Statistics New Zealand

Shane Ta’ala is a Principal Design Advisor within Te Tohu Rautaki Angitū Māori Statistics NZ. As a thought leader within the organisation his role is to advance iwi-Māori data aspirations through data system architecture design that enables a duality between Te Ao Pakeha and Te Ao Māori.

Manu Sione
 Te Whatu Ora | Health New Zealand

Manu lives in Auckland and is of Māori (Ngāti Whātua), Samoan (Fagamalo and Luatuanu’u) and Cook Island (Pukapuka) descent. He is passionate about working with families, organisations and communities to better meet the needs of Māori and Pasifika people to reach their full potential.

Manu has experience in executive leadership, management and Board roles. Currently he is Director of Geotren Ltd working in Data and Digital technology areas, focusing on Māori and Pasifika engagement and service development. Previously he was GM for Emerge Aotearoa, Director of Operations for Relationships Aotearoa, GM Pacific Health, Counties Manukau DHB and GM for Pacific Trust Canterbury in Christchurch. Manu works with public, private and community organisations to develop the best quality cultural services for Māori and Pasifika throughout Aotearoa and the Pacific region.

Ngapera Riley
Figure NZ | Pacific Data Fale

Ngapera believes everybody should have access to good information, and that knowing how to find and use data is vital to solving our country’s biggest problems. She cares about everyone being able to take part in that, so we can collectively work towards a better future for Aotearoa.

Ngapera currently leads Figure.NZ, a charity that builds scalable technology to help democratize NZ’s public data and develops data literacy programs for charities and NGOs. In 2020 Ngapera helped launch Pataka Raraunga a world first Maori data platform, and has also versions of this to help open Pacific data, disability data and data for rangatahi (youth) in Aotearoa.

Ngapera works closely with Māori and Pacific business and education efforts across New Zealand. She currently holds board positions with the Simplicity Trust, InZone Education Foundation, supporting Maori and Pacific leaders into top New Zealand schools, Hyundai’s Pinnacle Programme alongside Sir Graeme Henry, helping advance talented NZers, and Te Ohu Whai Ao Trust, which connects Maori and indigenous business efforts from around the world.

She is also part of the working group Te Pokapu for the Maori Data Sovereignty Network advocating for Maori rights and interests in data, and has recently joined the working group, Tatauranga Umanga Maori for Stats NZ. 

Formerly the Global Director of the World Class New Zealand Network for Kea, (Kiwi Expats Association) Ngapera has also worked for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, Ministry of Health, and the University of Auckland and MIT.

Ngapera is a professional Motown vocalist, loves social media, cooking, gardening and spending time with her adopted dog Molly, and spending time with her massive extended Maori and Pacific family.

Emma Bentley
Stats NZ

Emma is a statistician who has worked in the field of official statistics in New Zealand and the UK, including roles in methodology and census. Her current focus is on data standards and classifications at Stats NZ | Tatauranga Aotearoa where she is leading a review of the Ethnicity Standard. Emma lives in Porirua with her family.

Associate Professor Malakai Koloamatangi
Manager for Research and Insights – Ministry for Pacific Peoples

AP Malakai Koloamatangi is currently the Manager for Research and Insights for the Ministry for Pacific Peoples. Malakai Koloamatangi holds a PhD in Political Studies from the University of Auckland. He is an Adjunct Professor at the University of Fiji, and a Foundation Professor at Lo’au University. He was the inaugural Director, of the Office for Pacific Excellence and former Acting Director, of the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies at the University of Canterbury. He was, until the end of 2019, Associate Professor and Director of the Pasifika Directorate and Co-Director of the Pacific Research and Policy Centre at Massey University.

He has researched, commentated and written on human rights, democracy and related issues and has worked to connect research and application, most notably in creating ‘national dialogues’ in the Pacific as an indigenous approach to achieving development goals. His community commitments include, among other things, being President of the Auckland Tongan Community Inc and Chair of the Aotearoa Tongan Council. Mr Koloamatangi was bestowed the traditional hereditary Tongan navigator title, Mafua-‘ae-Lulutai by his Late Majesty King Tupou IV of Tonga in 2006.

Salā Pafitimai Dr. Fa’asaulala Tagoilelagi-Leota
Principal Analyst – Ministry for Pacific Peoples

Salā Pafitimai Dr Fa’asaulala Tagoilelagi-Leota is a Principal Analyst (Researcher) at Ministry for Pacific Peoples. She is an experienced Principal Analyst with a demonstrated history of working in the public policy industry. She is skilled in Early Childhood Education, Lecturing, Leadership, Research, and Cultural Intelligence. In addition, she is a strong research professional with a Doctor of Philosophy – PhD focused on Early Childhood Education and Teaching from Auckland University of Technology.

Christine Bycroft
Stats NZ

Christine Bycroft is a New Zealand statistician and demographer. She is a principal population statistician at Statistics New Zealand, for whom she has published an analysis comparing the costs and benefits of running a full census or alternatively using a system of administrative data registers modelled after similar systems in the Nordic countries.

From 2005 to 2006, Bycroft took a year away from Statistics New Zealand to work for the U.K. Office for National Statistics. She was promoted to Senior Research Statistician at Statistics New Zealand in 2008.

Bycroft is an elected member of the International Statistical Institute, she was elected to the Institute in 2010. She represents New Zealand and is one of three representatives for Oceania in the Committee on Women in Statistics of the International Statistical Institute. She also served on the council of the International Association of Survey Statisticians from 2011 to 2015, and on the council of the Population Association of New Zealand until 2014.

Hannes Diener

Hannes main research interests are algorithmic aspects of analysis and topology. Even though classical existence results are often reasonably simple to prove, their proofs mostly do not contain any information of how to actually find these objects. The subtleties and intricacies of giving constructive content in analytical and topological theorems is therefore a valuable task, especially if one is interested in the implementation of those results.

Pacific Data Sovereignty Conference Abstract Speakers

Samuela ‘Ofanoa
Moana Connect

Samuela Ofanoa (Tonga, Felemea Ha’apai, Vaimalo Vava’u) completed a Certificate in Health Sciences, Bachelor of Health Science, Postgraduate Diploma in Public Health specialising in Pacific Health, Master of Public Health with First Class Hons, and has recently completed a Ph.D. in Population Health at the University of Auckland. Samuela is currently working alongside other Pacific researchers, health professionals, and members of the community to co-design an intervention to improve the uptake of urate-lowering therapy (ULT) for gout among Pacific people in South Auckland. He is also a senior researcher at Moana Connect, working alongside Pacific researchers to elevate the stories of Pacific families and communities to produce transformative change.

Dr. Gerard Sonder
Pacific Perspectives

Dr. Gerard Sonder is a Public Health Physician and infectious disease Epidemiologist from the Netherlands. He worked at the Public Health Service, Department of Infectious Disease Control Amsterdam from 2000 to 2018 in different roles, heading the department from 2013, in which he was responsible for infectious disease control and outbreak management for the Amsterdam region. He has been associated with the Academic Medical Center (AMC) and the University of Amsterdam since 2009 for the purpose of research and publication. His research focusses on the epidemiology and control of infectious diseases and the evaluation of public health guidelines for Infectious Disease control including Travel Medicine and migrant health. He holds a master’s degree in Biology as well as a PhD in the evaluation of Public Health Programs for Infectious Diseases.

Gerard relocated to Wellington New Zealand in October 2019 and held a part-time position with the University of Otago as a senior lecturer for the postgraduate Travel Medicine qualifications, reviewed the response to the NZ measles outbreak 2019 for the Ministry of Health, worked as a consultant in the response to COVID-19 for Pacific populations and as a Public Health Physician in the national surveillance of infectious diseases including COVID-19 for the Institute of Environmental Science and Research Ltd (ESR) and the Ministry of Health before joining Pacific Perspectives in June 2022.

Jess Lagaluga Hutchings
The University of Auckland

Jess Lagaluga Hutchings completed her Bachelor of Pharmacy with honours in 2020 and in the following year completed her pharmacy registration year at Waitematā DHB. She is currently undertaking her PhD at the School of Pharmacy exploring how pharmacists can play a role in achieving equity in Pacific heart health.

Associate Professor Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni
The University of Auckland

Dr. Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni was born in Samoa, and has Samoan and Tongan ancestry. She spent most of her formative years in Tamaki Makaurau, Auckland. Her working life has been mainly in the academic world, but has also provided research support and advisory services to a number of government, non-government and community-based organisations and boards, especially in the Pacific mental health and addictions, and social justice fields. 

She studied Law and Sociology at the University of Auckland, focusing on youth justice and the sociology of law. She is currently employed by the University of Auckland as an Associate Professor in Criminology. She is a Commissioner for the New Zealand Criminal Cases Review Commission, a Delegated Commissioner for the Royal Commission of Inquiry into Abuse in Care (RCIAC), and a member of the RCIAC Pacific Reference Group. Her current research interests centre on Indigenous jurisprudence and Pasefika research methodologies.

Sarah McLean-Orsborn
The University of Auckland

Sarah McLean-Orsborn hails from the villages of Tapatapao, Moamoa and Papa Sataua. She grew up in Mulifanua and calls that place home. She is currently a Doctoral Candidate at Te Wānanga o Waipapa, School of Māori Studies and Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland.

Her research is an exploratory study of the sociocultural contributors that impacted upon Samoan women’s positive mental wellbeing through COVID-19 whilst also hoping to gain a deeper understanding of resilience and coping strategies, as well as explore Samoan women’s experiences of crises and map their journey to coping.

Vivien Pole

Viv Pole is the Senior Advisor – Pacific Health for ProCare. She has been in the health sector for nearly 15 years now, having completed over 20 years in the finance sector in a range of management positions. Prior to moving to ProCare, Viv was the Operations Manager and later Service Development Manager for Alliance Health Plus PHO. She is passionate about influencing contracts and program delivery to improve the health outcomes for Pacific.

Viv holds a master’s degree in health leadership (2019) and an MBA (2013) both from the University of Auckland. She was raised in the Friendly Island of Tonga before moving to Auckland nearly 40 years ago. She is well connected with the Pacific health providers and Tongan communities. Viv is very family oriented, has a strong faith and is an active member of the United Church of Tonga in NZ where she leads the finance team.

Dr. Troy Ruhe
University of Otago

Dr. Troy Ruhe is a Research Fellow in the Va’a o Tautai- Centre for Pacific Health (University of Otago). His research interests have been in creating physical activity programs, resources, and policy in Pacific spaces (both Aotearoa and wider Pacific region). Recently, he joined Dr Jesse Kokaua and Associate Professor Rose Richards investigating parental education on various health outcomes in Pacific children. His main involvement is offering a Pacific perspective to ensure interpretation of statistical findings are reflective of the communities being served.

Associate Professor Dr Rosalina Richards
Va’a o Tautai, Division of Health Sciences, University of Otago

Associate Professor Rosalina Richards is Deputy Director of the Va’a o Tautai – Centre for Pacific Health and Co-Deputy Director of the Coastal Peoples Southern Skies Centre for Research Excellence at the University of Otago. From Samoan and English ancestry she was born and raised in Te Wai Pounamu, the South Island of Aotearoa. Her academic background is in Psychology, Public health and Pacific health.

Lilo Oka Sanerivi
PhD Candidate Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabilitation Research, School of Physiotherapy, University of Otago

Oka is a Samoan/Tongan Physiotherapist and PhD candidate at the Centre for Health, Activity and Rehabiliation Research, University of Otago. Oka has been awarded the Health Research Council’s Pacific Clinical Research Training Fellowship for his research exploring how Samoan cultural knowledge could enhance the theory and practice of Physiotherapy. Oka was the first Pasifika Head of Department at a DHB and one of the first Pasifika Physiotherapists to be appointed to the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand as a Board Member. Oka and his wife Deborah also publish Pacific children’s language books through their small business: MA’AU.

Alex Poor
AUT | Pinnacle Midlands Health Network

Alex Poor is really excited to be a part of the Pacific Data Sovereignty Conference 2022. He has worked with big data sets across the public sector for more than ten years – spanning all tiers of the health sector (hospitals, regional services, primary and community care) as well as education. He is passionate about breaking down silos, so data can be used for positive change. He believes there is so much more we can understand about each other, and those issues that are easily hidden, when we allow people to use data from their own context.

Julie Winter-Smith
The University of Auckland

Julie Winter-Smith (`Alaki Fonua/Pelehake, Tongatapu) is a doctoral candidate based in the Section of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the University of Auckland. She is part of the Manawataki Fatu Fatu research programme, which is focused on achieving equity in cardiovascular disease for Māori and Pacific peoples. Her doctoral research is using Statistics New Zealand’s Integrated Data Infrastructure to investigate patterns of cardiovascular disease and its management among different Pacific ethnic groups, including how this differs for Pacific peoples born outside of New Zealand. Julie’s research is generously funded through the Health Research Council of New Zealand.

Dr. Ana Koloto
Research and Evaluation, Ministry for Pacific Peoples

Dr ‘Ana Hau‘alofa‘ia Koloto is currently works as the Director for research and evaluation in the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP), where is she is able to utilise 30 years of academic and community research experience. Her passion for research grew out of her undergraduate studies of Mathematics, Statistics and Education at Massey University, in Palmerston North. This passion shifted to Pacific research and was firmly grounded in her doctoral research at the University of Waikato, in the early 1990s. ‘Ana Koloto has held academic positions at Victoria University, University of Auckland and the University of the South Pacific Tonga Campus prior to her appointment to MPP in 2019. She has a special commitment to using Pacific worldviews, values and research frameworks to guide and transform the research and evaluation in the public sector, to bring about equitable outcomes for Pacific peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Dr. Halahingano Rohorua
Research and Evalutation, Ministry for Pacific Peoples

Dr Halahingano Tu‘akolo Rohorua is currently Manager Monitoring Evaluation and Learning in the Research and Evaluation Unit of the Ministry for Pacific Peoples (MPP). Her professional background is in economics and mathematics. Before joining MPP in 2020, she was a senior Pacific scholar and academic with a career in education at both senior high school and university. Her university career spanned more than 25 years of teaching, researching, publishing, and holding management positions at the University of Waikato and University of the South Pacific. A consummate professional and successful career enthusiast, the foundation of her success can be attributed to a good education, much dedication and hard work as well as strong moral family support, values, and principles. Accordingly, she is firmly convinced a good education remains the best future-pathway option for Pacific peoples to continue to help improve their individual and family social and economic circumstances and lives here in Aotearoa.

Tertiary Education Commission

We are in the business of transforming systems, careers, and equity gaps with our collective experiences.

Lisale Falema’a is a systems thinker and has a deep understanding of policy and how this connects to meaningful change for Pacific communities. He hails from Salimu, Vaigaga and is a proud son of Māngere.

Veronica Pritchard has dedicated her time to growing authentic leadership with the youth of South Auckland. At the helm of training and development programs with education as a vehicle for better outcomes. From the villages of Foailuga, Falelima, Safotu, Lefaga and Nofali’i.

Frances Fuamatu hails from Eva, Leulumoega, Fagali’i, Lauli’i and has lived over 50 years plus in beautiful Mangere, South Auckland. She is a careers extraordinaire and has contributed to transforming careers engagement for over 10 years.

Sarona Iosefa
 Te Whatu Ora | Health New Zealand

Sarona was born in Ōtautahi, Te Waipounamu, Aotearoa. She is Samoan and hails from Fasito’o Ūta, Tanugamanono and Vailoa Palauli, on her dad Savea Malaki Aiono’s side, and from Lotofagā and Manono through her mother Fa’asala (nee Lakisoe). Sarona Aiono-Iosefa is Business Partner Pasifika for Te Whatu Ora in its Digital Enablement and Engagement group, and is a board member for NZ on Air, formerly the New Zealand Broadcasting Authority.

She is part of the work programme team building the Hira data and digital information eco-system that will eventually give everyone in the Health and Disability system full access to their health and wellbeing information via an app, much like people currently access telebanking.

Sarona’s 30 years of stakeholder engagement experience with communities, especially Pasifika communities, is providing insights of Pasifika communities’ challenges and opportunities in the digital space. Why is this important? Our people will not recognise our health and disabilities services in 10 years’ time, because most of it will be delivered led locally, and made available by cellphone, laptops and devices. The information she is gathering with her team from our communities, will also help design how we receive health services into the future.

Sarona was part of the then Ministry of Health’s Engagement Team working with Pasifika people in Aotearoa to activate their own vaccination solutions to COVID-19 in 2021. As a published children’s author and former reporter, she is a champion of Pasifika people’s right to create and tell their own story.

Dr. Malakai ‘Ofanoa
The University of Auckland

Malakai Ofanoa (Felemea, Ha’apai, Tonga) is a Senior Lecturer in the Pacific Department at the School of Population Health, University of Auckland. Malakai has a Ph.D. in Behavioural Sciences from the University of Auckland. Malakai is a Senior Pacific academic leading research, teaching, and community engagement in Pacific health, health promotion, community development, indigenous research methodologies, rheumatic fever, gout, hepatitis B, Pacific stroke, and kava, both in the Pacific region and New Zealand. 

He led research in the Pacific region on Kava use and consumption  and on diabetes and diabetic retinopathy in both Vanuatu and Kiribati between 2019-2020. Malakai has been involved in the development of the collective Pacific PHO (AH+) in Auckland and has chaired the Tongan Health Society Clinic in Auckland for more than sixteen years. His passion is to support emerging and future Pacific researchers and empower our Pasifika communities to lead and take control over the determinants of their health and wellbeing in Aotearoa and the region.

Lemalu Alexa Masina

Lemalu Alexa Masina is a Senior Pacific health public servant who currently works at Te Pātaka Whaioranga Pharmac leading the Pacific Responsiveness Strategy. With more than 20 years of working across health-related roles, Lemalu sees her career centered on serving Pacific peoples as both a calling and a life commitment.

A graduate of Victoria University in Pacific Studies and Samoan Studies Lemalu credits her outlook on Public Health and life in general as strongly rooted in Pacific indigenous worldviews and ways of knowing. A student of lifelong learning and a champion for Pacific health equity Lemalu loves the activation of courageous talanoa and talatalanoa as a means to activate action and change.

Born and raised in Pito-One, Te Whanganui -a -Tara Lemalu is a daughter, sister, and proud aunt to Luca and Bowie. She is Samoan and hails from Safa’ato’a Lefaga, Vaie’e and Tufuiopa.

Dr. Pauliasi Tony Fakahau
Aotearoa Tongan Health Workers Association

Tony is a specialist in strategic policy and research on vulnerable communities. He is an expert on using Pacific research methodologies to collect and analyse data from the hard-to-reach sector. Tony has a background as an economic statistician and policy advisor. He is semi-retired and focusing on improving the wellbeing of the most vulnerable people in society through better policy advice and co-design interventions

Makahokovalu Pailate
Aotearoa Tongan Health Workers Association

Maka is a PhD Candidate at Otago University and a data guru who has been the lead analyst for the Pacific data used for the Pacific Leadership Forum based vaccination movement for Covid-19. He was able to date the raw data from agencies and provide analysis and advice that support the Pacific communities to target interventions more effectively. He is currently the CEO for the Aoteroa Tongan Health Workers Association. He is a chartered accountant and former senior manager in the public sector.

Pakilau Manase Lua
Aotearoa Tongan Health Workers Association

Tongan community leader and specialist on Pacific culture. Pakilau has held senior roles in government agencies and currently a senior manager at Te Pou. He is an experienced practitioner in disability health data as well as analysis of Pacific qualitative data. Pakilau is part of the senior Pacific leaders that are teaching and empowering our future leaders through the Mana Moana Programme.

Christopher Puli’uvea
Aotearoa Tongan Health Workers Association

Chris is a final year PhD candidate at the University of Auckland in the department of Molecular Medicine and Pathology. His current research focuses on determining the effects of unique Maori and Pacific gene variants on immune function. By understanding the immunological effects of these gene variants, he hopes to better understand variations in immune response of Maori and Pacific peoples and how these variations may lead to or protect from various diseases such metabolic related conditions (Type II diabetes), auto-immunity, cancer, and infectious diseases.

Master of Ceremonies

Tofilau Yolande Ah Chong

Tofilau Yolande hails from the villages of Lufilufi, Malie, Iva and Vaiusu in Samoa but grew up in Ponsonby, Auckland, where her parents created a legacy founded on the love that afforded others the opportunity to create their own legacies.

Tofilau Yolande is currently the neighbourhood lead for the Cause Collective, where she envisions South Auckland communities creating new ways of being and doing that will shatter glass ceilings of inequality, so the health and wellbeing challenges are no longer an issue.

Reverend Pennie Togiatama-Otto

Reverend Pennie Togiatama-Otto is a Kiwi born Niue with roots from Avatele Oneonepata and Makefu Falekahoatua. She is married to a native Samoan, Togia Tavita who hails from Vailuutai and Vaiala. Together they have four children and three mokopuna of Cook Island, Tahitian and Kiribas heritage.

She is an ordained Presbyterian Minister of Niue Takanini Pacific Islanders Presbyterian Church. She also has a background in education and is currently serving as the Deputy Principal at Manurewa High School. Pennie is due to submit her Doctoral Thesis at the University of Auckland based on Niueanness in Doctoral Success among Niue people. Her research focuses on Niue Indigeneity and Niue cultural values that influence and support doctoral success. When she started her doctoral thesis in 2014, there were only five Niue doctoral academics – at the end of her doctoral studies there will be more than 15 of Niue descent in the world!

Concurrent Sessions Day One Facilitators

Dr. Polly Atatoa-Carr

Dr. Polly AtatoaCarr is a Public Health Physician within Child and Youth Health at Waikato District Health Board, and Associate Professor of Population Health at the National Institute of Demographic and Economic Analysis (NIDEA) at the University of Waikato.

Dr El-Shadan Tautolo

El-Shadan’s primary area of research expertise is the health and well-being of Pacific families and communities in New Zealand. He has demonstrated expertise (PhD and Postdoctoral level) with both quantitative and qualitative research skills, including generalised estimating equations for longitudinal analysis, multivariate investigation, grounded theory, thematic analysis, and focus group interviews. As current Director of the Pacific Islands Families (PIF) Study, an ongoing birth cohort study of 1398 Pacific families, El-Shadan has investigated a diverse range of health and development-related topics encompassing child and maternal health, tobacco control, mens health, and mental wellbeing, and my research is translational to clinical practice. He has led and collaborated on research projects funded through HRC, MBiE, & the National Science Challenges totalling in excess of $20 million

Malaetogia Jacinta Fa’alili-Fidow

Jacinta is of Samoan descent and is the Chief Executive Officer for Moana Connect. Jacinta is a PhD candidate for the University of Auckland, exploring resiliency among Pacific children within the Growing Up in New Zealand Study. Jacinta’s passion to ensure all children have optimal opportunity to thrive in New Zealand, especially Pacific children.

Dr Seini Taufa

Dr Seini Taufa is the Research and Evaluation Lead for Moana Connect. Dr Taufa was previously based at the University of Auckland where she taught for over ten years within the departments of Social and Community Health and Pacific Health, School of Population Health.

She also worked part-time as the research lead for TAHA Well Pacific Mother and Infant Service and as the Pacific analyst for the Growing Up in New Zealand Study. Dr Taufa continues to work as an evaluator for TOKO Collaborations (an ethnic specific suicide prevention programme) and on projects such as Taulanga – building health literacy about rheumatic fever in South Auckland. Her extensive research expertise has enabled her to gain skills as a research fellow for the NZ Child and Youth Epidemiology Services, acquiring further skillsets as both a qualitative and quantitative researcher. Dr Taufa continues to be passionate about working on health-related issues relating to ethnic minorities. Dr Taufa serves in various advisory groups which include The Village Collective and the Pacific Police Advisory Group.


Sistema Aotearoa

Walk through Ōtara Town Square any afternoon and you’ll see smiling children of all ages, carrying violins or balancing cellos on their backs! These eager learners are heading to Ōtara Music Arts Centre (OMAC), the home of Sistema Aotearoa, one of New Zealand’s most unique and effective music and social development programmes.

Sistema Aotearoa works to unleash the potential of tamariki, whānau and communities through orchestral music making. The programme fosters confidence, teamwork, pride and aspiration in the children and their wider community, bringing about social change, community empowerment and supporting the wellbeing of tamariki and whānau.

Sistema Aotearoa has been an integral aspect of family and community life in Ōtara. Since its inception in 2011, over 3000 children have been impacted by the programme. In 2021 nearly 1,200 Māori and Pasifika children students, aged 2 to 17 years, will participate in diverse activities including lively community pre-school music sessions, concert performances, in school musicianship lessons, and instrumental tuition afterschool and in school holidays.

Inspired by Sistema music programmes around the world, Sistema Aotearoa is a social development programme that builds a sense of community, self-respect, and mutual support in children. Our free, intensive, ensemble-based music lessons inspire children to realize their full potential as ākonga and citizens through orchestral music-making.

The Shades

A quartet of beautiful Tongan and Samoan voices, fusing their classical training with genre’s such as Musical Theatre, Opera, Gospel and popular music. The Shades consist of two Samoans Samson Setu and Ipu Laga’aia and two Tongans Taka Vuni and Manase Latu, who together create a strong, well-blended sound with a feel for humour and a love of laughter.

Born and raised in Auckland, each have come from humble pacific homes where music was in every facet of their upbringing. Though music and singing came very natural to them, they have had years of training to shape them into the artists they are today. Between the four, they have been awarded various scholarships, chosen for prestigious programs, such as Kiri programme, and have excelled in many competitions.The Shades are now in regular demand for private events such as weddings, funerals, birthdays and other special occasions.

In 2016, the Shades sung the national anthems for Netball quad series which included South Africa, England, Jamaica, Australia and our very own Silver Ferns, which was televised worldwide. Similarly, during the Lions tour the Shades were asked to provide entertainment for a number of pre-game functions. They arranged a medley, songs from each of the English Isles, fused with a Maori Waiata. A performance which bought Lions and All black fans together to celebrate their love for the sport.

The Shades have been invited to sing in various concerts throughout New Zealand such as Tauranga, Wellington, and Black Barn in Havelock North. The Shades now look towards a new year of further study and training as a group and as soloists, to share their gifts and love for music.