3 Jun 2024

Leitualaalemalietoa Lynn Lolokini Pavihi: champion of Vagahau Niue receives MNZM

4:57 pm on 3 June 2024
Leitualaalemalietoa Lynn Lolokini Pavihi has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Leitualaalemalietoa Lynn Lolokini Pavihi has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Photo: Leitualaalemalietoa Lynn Lolokini Pavihi

Leitualaalemalietoa Lynn Lolokini Pavihi, a champion of the Niuean language, has been made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM), for services to Pacific education.

Leitualaalemalietoa was overwhelmed by the news, saying she had to read the notification email four times, just so she could believe "it was for real".

Although born and bred in Niue, she has always been passionate about seeing Niuean culture and language flourish in her adopted home in Aotearoa.

"The Vagahau Niue language is not mine to own and hold onto, it's for me to pass on to younger generations and that's why I'm very passionate and keen to always put my hand up for anything to do with the Niue people."

After receiving a post-graduate diploma in Educational leadership she began to reflect on what she had achieved as an educator.

"Have I served my people, have I given all that I have in my kato or kete (bag) to my people?

Niue Stage co-host Lynn Pavihi

Leitualaalemalietoa Lynn Lolokini Pavihi Photo: RNZ / Mabel Muller

She believed it was time to give more of her efforts toward helping Niuean students in mainstream education. After she became Associate Principal at Favona School, Auckland she helped establish a bilingual Niuean language unit for 1 junior and 1 senior class, in 2021.

Students are immersed in Niuean culture and language from 9am to 3pm, to help them develop their identity as Tama Niue.

Leitualaalemalietoa said she was only carrying on the work that others, such as Mele Nemaia and other "champions", had started.

"Some of the students have come across went to a Niue playgroup or a Niue ECE centre, so the parents wanted to have that continuation from early childhood learning to primary, intermediate and secondary."

She said part of the reason why she does what she does is also because of her two children who were both born in Aotearoa, and her wanting to see them grow up and have that strong love for the Vagahau language.

She is also a tutor and facilitator for Niue language classes run by the Centre for Pacific Languages, and has hosted a weekly Niue radio programme on the Pacific Media Network. The programme aims to provide the Niuean community with education and informative tools.

Leitualaalemalietoa also holds several community positions which allow her to further her goal of keeping Niuean culture and language alive.

She has been the Niue representative Board member of The Fono since 2022, and is the Niue Trustee for the Pasifika Festival Tataki Auckland. She is a member of the Pacific Island Presbyterian Church, helping establish the church's social media to connect with those who are unable to make it to church, via livestream.

Leitualaalemalietoa believes that her work with Vagahau Niue honours her parents and grandparents who were instrumental in her upbringing. They nurtured and moulded her into someone who is proud of her culture and language and will keep Vagahau Niue alive, wherever she goes.

The Vagahau Niue language has been identified by UNESCO as an endangered language.

The King's Birthday Honours list:

To be Officers of the New Zealand Order of Merit

  • The Very Reverend Taimoanaifakaofo Kaio for services to the Pacific community
  • Anapela Polataivao for services to Pacific performing arts

To be a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit

  • Bridget Kauraka for services to the Cook Islands community
  • Frances Oakes for services to mental health and the Pacific community
  • Leitualaalemalietoa Lynn Lolokini Pavihi for services to Pacific education
  • David Robie for services to journalism and Asia-Pacific media education

The King's Service Medal (KSM)

  • Mailigi Hetutū for services to the Niuean community
  • Tupuna Kaiaruna for services to the Cook Islands community and performing arts
  • Maituteau Karora for services to the Cook Islands community