31 Dec 2019

NZ's Pacific community recognised in New Year's honours

12:22 pm on 31 December 2019

Fifteen people from New Zealand's Pacific community have been recognised in the New Year's honours.

One of those honoured is Porirua's Reverend Nove Vaila'au, who has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to the Samoan community.

He has spearheaded Aoga Amata, early childhood education through the EFKS church, preparing tamaiti for a primary school curriculum.

Reverend Vaila'au also established the EFKS NZ Trust, which uses over 60 congregations to improve early childhood education.

"Some of our children are not exposed to early learning before they go into primary. If children are not exposed to social competence, literacy and numeracy at the early stages, they would enter at age five into primary, and primary has already got a curriculum," he said.

And then there are those who have exploded beyond the Pacific community like Parris Goebel, the Samoan-New Zealand hip-hop choreographer, who has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to dance.

A distinguished dancer, Goebel led her Royal Family dance crew to victory at the World Hip Hop Dance Championships three times.

She has also worked with famous international artists including Justin Bieber, Rihanna and Jennifer Lopez.

Parris Goebel

Parris Goebel Photo: Screenshot / YouTube

Goebel said the award was an unexpected honour because dance was often passed over for other sporting codes.

"We'd hear of different people getting it as I was growing up but I never imagined myself getting this honour to be honest," she said.

Others are from outside the community in recognition for serving the Pacific.

Grant Crothers, known as Stan, has also been made an officer for services to Tokelau and the fishing industry.

Over the last decade, he's helped grow the value of Tokelau's fishery from $US670,000 annually to a predicted $US14.7 million this year.

"That's a really big jump...It's been a real privilege working with the people of Tokelau to help them realise the potential of their 200 mile Exclusive Economic Zone," he said.

The 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

See the full New Years Honours list here.