National President, Bernadette Pereira
Bernadette is a well-respected and loved community protagonist and leader with a lifelong passion for supporting Pacifica, giving voice to community and driving the development of women in the Pacific region. She was the inaugural President of the PACIFICA Manukau Branch (only four years old) and has done a fantastic job leading this young Branch.
Bernadette comes from a long maternal line of strong Samoan women from Lufilufi, Malie, Iva in Savaii and Fagamalo. Bernadette started her career in women’s development and race relations in the Pacific, including leading women’s delegations to the United Nations.
In Auckland, Bernadette has championed community led initiatives South-Side, held governance roles on a number of community, government and health boards, and is still a long-standing board member of South Seas Pacific Healthcare, Otara.
Bernadette’s work in advisory and management roles, over the years, in both local Government and Corrections, have kept her experience relevant in service delivery, policy development and community.
Bernadette is married to Antoine Xulue, Kanak from New Caledonia, and a proud mother to Joseph. Bernadette says leading PACIFICA is like holding all her passions in the palm of her hand – women’s development, PACIFICA, community and leading from the heart.
“Being elected is humbling and with God’s blessing I will serve Pacific women steadfastly. My vision for PACIFICA aligns with the samoan proverb ‘So’oso’o tau’au mo le lumana’i’ translated for this work means to meet the needs and aspirations of our PACIFICA women, their families and community – step by step – by and for each other.”
Vice President Northern, Elizabeth (Elisapeta) McEwan
Elizabeth comes from a long line of Samoan and Niuean matriarchs.
Her mother was born in Vaimoso, and Elizabeth’s maternal great grandfather was a member of the Mau.
Elizabeth , herself was born and raised in West Auckland and lived in the West for 40 years with her husband John and three daughters, before moving to Green Lane.
Elizabeth, has always had a heart and passion for the well being and the welfare of women and girls and was greatly influenced by P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A Founder, Eleitino Patricia (Paddy) Walker, whom Elizabeth met when she was 16 years old. Elizabeth’s great aunt, Maria Jessop Crosse, was the President of the Auckland Central Branch of P.A.CI.F.I.C.A in the early years.
Elizabeth has held several positions at PACIFICA Branch level, including, Public Relations, Communications and Secretary.
Voluntary work, helping, encouraging and serving others, are just some of the values that were instilled in Elizabeth from an early age, and she understands what it is to serve and to give public service.
With her background in the Arts, medical field, counselling and in Early Childhood Education, Elizabeth is passionate about the promoting of education, health, arts and culture and the social development of Pacific Island families.
- Elizabeth is a Trustee and Board Member of the Evangelical Bible College of Western Australia
- President of the PACIFICA Auckland Central Branch
- Vice President National Council of Women NZ Auckland Branch
- Director & co-owner manager of Dr. Stress Ltd and John McEwan & Associates (Counselling, mentoring and psychological practice)
- A mentor to women and girls – purely voluntary
“I feel honoured to have been elected to the role of Northern Region Vice President. I am a hard worker and I am motivated, co-operative and confident.
My personal attributes align with the vision that our Founder Eleitino had for Pacific women. I am fair minded and I am both practical and pragmatic, I have a sense of fun and humour and I am inclusive, no matter what background a woman may come from.
Vice President Central, Dr Aliitasi Sua-Tavila
Dr Aliitasi Su’a-Tavila is proud to be Samoan and is a person who demonstrates leadership in everything she puts her hands to. She is a founding member and current President of the PACIFICA Whitireia Branch in Porirua.
One of her primary roles as Vice President Central is to support and oversee the functioning of six PACIFICA branches from the Hawkes Bay to the Wellington region. Aliitasi is passionate about gardening, cooking and spending time with family and friends.
South Island Vice President, Alex Tino
Although born and raised in South Auckland, Alexandria (Alex) now calls Christchurch home and has lived there for nine years. Alex is part Samoan and one of her mother’s family village is Togafuafua located in Apia.
Alex became a registered member of PACIFICA this year and is the Christchurch branch’s assistant secretary. Alex has been married for 13 years to a wonderful Samoan man and has three beautiful children aged 11, 8 and 2.
Alex is currently working doing her PhD in biomedical science and is passionate about her culture, family, her research and P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A. Her desire is to see more Pacific peoples, especially women, studying subjects like science and Pacific health research.
National Secretary, Marie Laufiso
The first of the six Dunedin-born children of Agnes or “Eti” (Sāmoan/Tongan) and Mikaele (Sāmoan), Marie grew up in Brockville alongside two sisters, two brothers and two younger Ivala cousins (also Chinese.) The youngest Laufiso sibling was raised in Sāmoa with Eti’s family. Marie’s early schooling was at Brockville Primary, Kenmure Intermediate, Kaikorai Valley High and Otago Girls’ High schools. Much later in life, Marie gained a University of Otago [BA, Pacific Islands’ Studies] as well as a Diploma in Adult Education (Te Wānanga o Aotearoa].
As with most New Zealand-born Sāmoans, Marie and her siblings were raised to serve: “O le ala i le mālo o le tautua” (The path to leadership is service). Parental involvements during the 1970s and 1980s within such organisations as the Dunedin Sāmoan Catholic Community, P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A. INC. and the Kaikorai Jaycees taught Marie a great deal about debating, politics and immigration from the Pacific. This laid a strong foundation for Marie’s focus on “grass-roots” community development with a particular focus on Te Tīriti o Waitangi as the basis for enduring relationships.
Dropping out of studies at the local university in the early 1980s to work on a VOTP (Unemployment) scheme with Corso, a homegrown justice-in-development agency gave Marie an intellectual framework for coming to terms with and navigating the emotional dislocation she felt as a New Zealand-born Sāmoan. Corso’s involvement in the Nuclear-Free and Independent Pacific movement (1982-1996) and a stint as Convenor of Corso’s Pacific Projects Committee, consolidated Marie’s analysis of “colonisation of the mind” as an ongoing feature, dominating all spheres of life in the Pacific region.
During the 1980s, Marie was a member of the Dunedin Young PACIFICA Branch which later disbanded in 1989. In 2008, at the request of Aunty Maria Kydd and Mum Eti Ivala-Laufiso, along with cousin Rosalie and Brockville “Sistah” Manea, Marie joined the Dunedin Branch. As a first-term Dunedin City Councillor (and Aotearoa/New Zealand’s first Pāsifika Green elected representative), Marie hopes to make a difference particularly for local communities and whānau whose interests are now well represented at local government level.
National Communications Officer, Marie Schmidt
Marie is a proud Samoan Westie raised in Henderson, West Auckland where most of her family still live. Marie now lives in Cannons Creek, Porirua and is a member of the
Whitireia Branch. Despite having lived in Wellington for 19 years, she remains a strong BLUES rugby supporter.
Marie has worked for the Ministry of Social Development for 29 years and is currently acting National Director Pacific at National Office. She works with an extensive network of
Pacific providers and Pacific communities from around the country.
When she is not working, Marie voluntarily delivers the Le Va FLO Talanoa suicide prevention workshops for Pacific communities in Wellington, is Secretary of the Kapiti-Mana Pasifika Community Patrols Committee and spends as much nana time with her mokos and the family dog, Mia. One item on her bucket-list is to study for her Masters of Theology.
God is good!
National Treasurer (TBC)
National Assistant Treasurer, Ashalyna Noa
Ashalyna is a member of the Christchurch Branch and has a passion to work with Pacific families and communities. She is also a proud trustee and foundation member of the Pacific Youth Leadership and Transformation (PYLAT) Council who support Pasifika youth to participate in democracy and access leadership opportunities.
Ashalyna is currently working with the UC Pacific Development Team and studying towards her PhD at the Macmillan Brown Centre for Pacific Studies.
National Youth Representative, Maungaosavai’i Feagaiga-Fagasa
Maugaosavai’i was born and raised in Invercargill and now lives in Auckland. She is Samoan/Maori and loves to embrace her culture in every way possible. Maugaosavai’i has a strong passion for serving in the community, hence the reason for her studies in becoming a Police Officer.
Maugaosavai’i is part of the PACIFICA Manukau branch and is a founding member of theManukau youth group ‘Ignite’. She is extremely humbled and enthusiastic about her new role as the National Youth Representative and intends on making a cultural connection for all young people.
Maugaosavai’i aims to explore new and relevant ways to keep the youth involved and connected as well as maintaining a high standard of excellence for her 5 sisters and young son. Maugaosavai’i is eager to see and be part of what this challenge has to offer.