Members of the panel
Arizona Haddon is of Samoan and Māori descent, hailing from the villages of Lu’ua and Musumusu, with whakapapa to Waikato Tainui.
Born and raised in Tāmaki Makaurau, Arizona is currently completing a Master’s degree in Urban Planning and holds a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology.
Arizona’s advocacy within the Pacific community started while studying at Massey University, where she was an active member of the Pasifika Students' Association and mentor to Pasifika undergraduate students.
Her work is primarily in housing and urbanism, with a particular focus on housing equity for Māori and Pacific peoples.
Arizona works both as a mentor for Māori and Pasifika students at the University of Auckland, and a Research Assistant at Massey University, and has policy experience on local government issues.
Hainoame Fulivai is a New Zealand born Tongan with whakapapa to the Dawn Raids in the late 1970s.
She's a mum of two daughters, married to Dibor and a long-time resident and local of Mt Wellington (over 35 years).
An Auckland Girls' Grammar and University of Auckland alumnus, Hainoame recently graduated with a second Masters in Technology Futures, Emerging Disruptive Tech in April 2023.
Hainoame brings over 20 years expertise in community development, education, research, funding to systems change and social innovation.
She was a co-chair in the recent Pacific People's Advisory Panel from 2020-2022, in particular she was also a committee member for the Climate Change Advisory working group.
Hainoame is a pioneer and chairperson / co-founder for the Pasifika Funders Network, an entrepreneur and works in social innovation for Pacific family violence.
She is also launching a new women's movement in digital technology innovation for Tongan women in New Zealand.
Born and raised in Tāmaki Makaurau, Hassana is of Niuean (Tuapa) Māori (Waikato-Tainui) Fijian Indian and Irish descent.
Hassana is extremely passionate about helping her people get into higher education and paying jobs which stems from her background working within the recruitment industry for the last seven years.
Hassana is a natural relationship builder and finds it easy to connect and build relationships with people from all walks of life.
Hassana is also on the panel of Future Leaders In Tech (FLINT), a group that advocates for our younger generation to step into leadership positions within the tech industry.
Hassana currently resides in the Māngere area where she has been for the past four years.
She feels deeply connected to the south, east and central community having grown up in Panmure, Mount Albert and now Māngere Bridge.
Hassana has one son who is almost two, he is her greatest motivation to bring more diversity across all working sectors and communities.
Hassana feels extremely privileged to be joining the Pacific People’s Panel and can’t wait to connect with other panel members, Auckland Council and our Pasifika community.
Born and raised in Māngere, Litiana is of Fijian, Samoan and Pakeha descent.
Litiana’s main drivers are her love for people and the desire to see better outcomes for Pacific communities in Aotearoa.
Litiana completed her tertiary qualifications at the University of Auckland (including a Master of Public Policy with First Class Honours) before working in housing and urban development policy.
She is currently a Senior Policy Advisor at the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment where she works on Pacific economic development policy.
Mary is of Fijian and Samoan descent and is a qualified secondary teacher with over 14 years’ experience in schools, including middle and senior leadership roles.
Born and raised in Māngere, South Auckland, she attended the local schools and continues to work and live in the South Auckland community.
She also has experience of working in a governance committee setting.
Mary and her husband have chosen to raise their two children in Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) and she is privileged to serve and be part of the Pasifika Advisory Panel.
When she is not working, she enjoys reading, spending time with her family and friends and participating in a daily exercise regime.
She received her Masters of Educational Leadership (MEdL) from AUT and Postgraduate Diploma in Arts, Graduate diploma of Teaching and Bachelor of Arts from the University of Auckland.
After 15 years of working as a public servant, Saoatulagi-ole-Tagaloa Penina Ifopo, took a leap of faith and started a social enterprise in 2020.
Penina was born, raised and cocooned in Musumusu Fagaloa, Samoa and she’s from a family of teachers and educators.
She completed her secondary schooling in Samoa and migrated to New Zealand for further education where she gained a postgraduate degree in Education and in 2018 graduated with a Master of Educational Leadership from AUT.
In her professional space, Penina served at the New Zealand Council of Trade Unions as a Women Co-Convenor for Women’s Council, Pasifika Executive Member and PSA Pasifika National Delegate for New Zealand prisons.
Last year, she was voted into the Manurewa High School Board of Trustees and became the first Pasifika woman chair of the school.
Guided by her values: God, family and alofa, Penina is a strong advocate of social justice, a community connector and a well-respected community leader.
She is a Samoan mother, Pasifika woman, chief, educator, business owner, creative and a master weaver.
Seimoana Naisali is a proud mum of two.
Born and bred on Auckland’s North Shore, she holds a Bachelor of Arts in criminology and media, and a Master's in International Development.
Seimoana comes from a diverse career with New Zealand Police taking on various roles in communications, operational support and policy.
During this time she was an active member of the Māori and Pacific Ethnic Services group and Women’s Advisory Network.
Seimoana is now a co-founder of Jobs For Mums, a platform dedicated to providing flexible employment opportunities for parents and caregivers across Aotearoa.
Recently she was selected to represent New Zealand, Tokelau and Tuvalu at the US Young Pacific Leaders conference in Guam.
Her upbringing in the Tokelauan and Tuvaluan Auckland communities is what fuels her passion to drive equitable change for New Zealand’s most underrepresented groups.
Seumanu Simon Matāfai JP
Seumanu Simon Matāfai JP is one of the youngest Justices of the Peace in New Zealand.
He is a proud Kiwi-born Samoan bilingual with an orator chief title.
He spent four years in the US, South Africa and Brazil as the first Pacific youth advocate to United Nations’ Summits/One Young World with various NGOs.
Then at 24, he was elected as the first Whau Local Board member of Samoan descent and the youngest ever in West/Central Auckland.
Seumanu holds a Masters in Business Administration, postgraduate qualifications in Law, and a Bachelor of Arts double major in history and music.
He is an award-winning choirmaster and piano teacher.
Seumanu currently serves on the governance board for the Pasifika Festival, is a member of Whau Pasifika and producer of the Koko Samoa Youth Show on Radio Samoa.
Taitu’uga Aiolupotea Mirofora Mataafa-Komiti
Taitu’uga Aiolupotea Mirofora Mataafa-Komiti is a proud Samoan from the villages of Lufilufi, Salesatele (Falealili) and Falelima.
She is a proud mum of four children, with whom she shares with her husband Fata Talalelei Komiti.
Values such as alofa (love), aiga (family), tautua (service), and fa’aaloalo (respect) are at the centre of what she does.
Taitu’uga is passionate about serving her community.
She is an active member of her Samoan Drury Methodist Church, Women’s Fellowship, a Sunday school teacher, and a youth and church leader.
Having been bestowed with a high chief and oratory title from her father and mother’s families, she is very involved in her family and village associations.
Professionally, she serves as a project manager at Le Va, a Pasifika health and wellbeing NGO.
Previously, Taitu’uga worked in tertiary education, serving as a professional teaching fellow for Te Wānanga o Waipapa at the University of Auckland.
During her tenure, she lectured the Samoan Language papers from stage 1 to stage 3 and guest lectured for some of the Pacific Studies papers at the University of Auckland for over six years.
Her educational background includes a BA (Hons) First Class and an MA (First Class Honours) majoring in Pacific Studies from the University of Auckland.
Taitu'uga is excited about the opportunity to continue serving the members of the Pasifika community in Tāmaki Makaurau through this new role.
Vaifale Natano Melvin Le’avasā
Vaifale Natano Melvin Le’avasā is a proud New Zealand Samoan from the villages of Solosolo, Vaiala, Moata’a and Vaimoso.
Raised in the Christian faith in Māngere, South Auckland, he is married with three daughters.
He is an active contributor to community sports for over 20 years, including coaching and managing rugby teams across the Auckland Rugby Union, Auckland Samoa Rugby Union and World Rugby campaigns for the Cook Islands Rugby Union.
He is a quantity surveyor and research assistant at University of Auckland.
He holds a Bachelor of Construction (Economics), a Master of Technological Futures and is progressing through his Doctorate of Indigenous Development and Advancement.
Evo Leota-Tupou is a proud mum of five, social entrepreneur, and founder of Pacific Kids' Learning.
Of Samoan descent, Evo was born and raised in Ōtara, South Auckland.
She spent some time living in Australia and the United Kingdom before completing her studies at the University of Waikato with a Bachelor of Computer Graphic Design.
In addition to her role as founder/director, Evo is actively involved in the EdTech community.
Evo has a focus on the fields of EdTech, animation, and STEAM education.
She serves as an Executive Council Member of EdTechNZ, contributing to the advancement of educational technology in New Zealand.
Her expertise and dedication have also led her to become a member of Tech Women New Zealand, furthering her commitment to promoting gender diversity in the tech industry.
She is an active participant in the National AI and Algorithm Advisory Group for Te Whatu Ora, where she contributes her insights to shape policies related to artificial intelligence and algorithms.
She does this with advocacy for children with disabilities in mind, from personal experience here in Auckland, she believes they are hugely underserved.
Before she settled back in Auckland to start a family, Evo also lived and travelled in the North Asia region, basing herself in South Korea, where she first experienced inequities in education for children with disabilities.
She is passionate about creating positive outcomes for her local community and believes there needs to be a massive shift in linking the early years to future opportunities.
Mavae Ahio is a first-generation New Zealand-born Tongan.
He hails from the villages of Fua’amotu, Tongatapu and Feletoa, Vava’u.
He was raised in the Polynesian capital of the world, South Auckland.
Embedded with qualities of Tongan culture, Mavae has grown to appreciate the significance of being Pacific in Aotearoa, New Zealand.
Mavae is passionate about Pacific peoples and regions in which he holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in anthropology and geography.
He has done work experience in the Pacific mental health service in Waitematā District Health Board.
He was awarded Le Va Scholarship and completed a Postgraduate Certificate in Health Science specialising in mental health and addictions.
He also holds a Master of Māori and Pacific Development with Honours.
Mavae has previous experiences in teaching (secondary), educational pathway and employment consultancy.
More recently, he worked as a Senior Advisor at the Ministry of Education in Wellington.
He is now working as a Principal Advisor at the Ministry of Education in Auckland.
Mavae is an active member of the United Church of Tonga, New Zealand and is currently the Youth Leader of Tauafa’ahau Tupou IV branch.