The former Associate Pacific Islands Affairs Minister, Taito Phillip Field, has died at the age of 68.
Samoan-born Field was a Member of Parliament for South Auckland electorates from 1993 to 2008, and he was the first MP of Pacific Island descent.
Sad day for our Sā Leaanā family. Manuia le malaga o lau afioga Afisivalu Taito Phillip Field ❤️. #TB to our Aiga Sā Leaanā saofa’i in 2019. I received my Lesā title and Taito was bestowed his Afisivalu title just as his father and grandfather had before him #AigaMalosi #Snapo pic.twitter.com/hJu7r9625S— Lesā Lani Taito Alo (@MekikiBruce) September 23, 2021
He was also the first New Zealand politician to be found guilty of corruption and bribery charges.
"I do want to acknowledge Taito Phillip Field's passing," Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern said at today's press conference. She noted his career had been controversial.
"Everyone will be familiar with the latter part of his political career, but ultimately today his family have lost him, and the first Pacific MP in New Zealand. And so I do want to acknowledge that."
Field was a minister outside Cabinet in a Labour-led government from 2003 to 2005.
He left the Labour Party in 2007 after efforts to formally expel him were undertaken, and returned to Parliament as an independent.
Very sad news. Former Labour Party MP and minister Taito Phillip Field, his legacy of paving the way for other Pasifika will be remembered. RIP. Condolences to his extended family & friends. https://t.co/L5UMR8P2nF— Pasifika Network (@PasifikaGroup) September 22, 2021
Following charges of bribery and perverting the course of justice, he was defeated in the 2008 New Zealand General Election.
Field was sentenced to six years in prison in 2009, after being found guilty of 11 charges of bribery and corruption and 15 of attempting to pervert the course of justice.
The charges were laid after he had work done by Thai people he helped with immigration matters. He then tried to cover that up during an official inquiry.
He was granted parole in 2011.
He was the first New Zealand MP ever to be jailed for corruption charges.