Tofilau Bernadette Pereira
Tofilau is a well-respected community leader with a lifelong passion of supporting Pasefika women/communities in achieving their dreams and aspirations and advocating strongly for Pasefika women/families/communities wherever they may be. Tofilau started her career in women’s development and race relations at the South Pacific Community (SPC) which included leading women’s delegations to the United Nations and other forums in the pursuit of gender equality and overall progress and development of women. In New Zealand, Tofilau has championed community led initiatives, held governance roles on several community/ government/ health boards, and remains a veteran board member of South Seas Healthcare Otara.
She was also the inaugural President of the PACIFICA Manukau Branch set up in 2013. Tofilau comes from a long maternal line of strong Samoan women from Lufilufi, Malie, Iva and Fagamalo. Her vision for PACIFICA aligns with the samoan proverb, ‘So’oso’o tau’au mo le lumana’i’ or that we work collectively as one, ‘shoulder to shoulder’ for the future of PACIFICA women and inturn families and communities will prosper as well.
Elizabeth (Elisapeta) McEwan
Vice President Northern Region
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 movement. Elizabeth was born and raised in West Auckland and currently lives in Greenlane with her husband John. They have three daughters. Elizabeth, has always had a heart and passion for the well-being and the welfare of women 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 is currently President of the PACIFICA Auckland Central Branch, a Trustee and Board Member of the Evangelical Bible College of Western Australia, Vice President National Council of Women NZ Auckland Branch and Director & co-owner manager of Dr. Stress Ltd and John McEwan & Associates. (Counselling, mentoring and psychological practice)
Dr Ali'itasi Su'a-Tavila
Vice President Central Region
Dr Ali'itasi is the founding President of Whitireia PACIFICA Branch which was established in 2014. She also served as Central Region Vice President from 2017-2018. She is a qualified and registered Social Worker and very passionate about helping Pacific students in the Tertiary education level to ensure they are successful in their academic journey. She is married to one of the few Pacific qualified plumbers in Wellington and they have one son. Dr Ali'itasi was formerly with Whitireia Polytech but has recently started a new position as a Senior Lecturer, Pasifika Health at Victoria University of Wellington. She loves gardening, cooking and baking when time permits. Dr Ali'itasi replaces Natalia Fareti who resigned in August.
Vice President Southern Region
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 villages is Togafuafua. Alex became a registered member of PACIFICA in 2017 and is currently the Christchurch branches 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 towards 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.
Marie is the first of the six Dunedin-born children of Agnes or “Eti” (Sāmoan/Tongan) and Mikaele (Sāmoan) who grew up in Brockville. Much later in life, Marie attained a BA in Pacific Islands’ Studies from the University of Otago as well as a Diploma in Adult Education.
As with most New Zealand-born Sāmoans, Marie and her siblings were raised to serve: “O le ala i le pule o le tautua”/The path to leadership is through service. Her parents involvement in the 1970s and 1980s with Dunedin Sāmoan Catholic Community, P.A.C.I.F.I.C.A. INC. and the Kaikorai Jaycees taught Marie about debating, politics and pacific immigration. 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. During the 1980s, Marie was a member of the Dunedin Young PACIFICA Branch which later disbanded in 1989. In 2008, Marie joined the Dunedin Branch and is a first-term Dunedin City Councillor and Aotearoa NZs first Pāsifika Green elected representative.
Malia Tua’i Manuleleua
National Communications Officer
Malia was co-opted in March 2018 to perform this role. She has expertise in communications and has undergraduate qualifications in communications, sociology, political studies and postgraduate qualifications in health science.
She was a founding member of the PACIFICA Manukau branch and was elected as their inaugural Secretary when the branch was first established in 2013. She is currently employed with NZ Red Cross, is a trustee and Communications officer for Waitakere Pacific Wardens Trust, a trustee for Southseas Healthcare, a former trustee for De La Salle College and a mother of two young men.
Is the Director of Teuila Consultancy. Its ethos of “successful futures through education and development” complements social strategies that seek to build a more productive and competitive economy for all New Zealanders.
Projects that foster and enhance resilience within families, and advocate and strengthen support for children and young people are championed. She has developed strong community links through these projects that have engaged providers and families to work towards improved outcomes for families.
She has been a member of PACIFICA Incorporated for over 30 years and is proud that with her mother and her daughters, there are three generations with PACIFICA Inc membership.
National Assistant Treasurer
Marie Schmidt is Samoan and is currently on the committee for the PACIFICA West Auckland Branch. She has held former positions of Secretary for the Whitireia Branch in Porirua and Communications Officer for the National Executive. Marie is a committee member on the Auckland Government Women’s Network (AGWN) and has been co-opted on the committee for the Porirua Pasifika Community Patrol. Marie mentors three public servants and eleven months ago established and hosts the West Auckland Coffee Club a support group for pre-surgery and post-surgery bariatric patients who meet monthly.
Marie has worked for the Ministry of Social Development for 33 years and is currently the Lead Advisor for Pasefika Proud in the Pacific and Programme Design Team in the Ministry. She now focuses solely on Northland and Auckland working alongside ethnic Pacific community leaders, church leaders and Pacific social service providers with an aim that Pacific families and communities are safe, resilient and enjoy wellbeing.
Marie has a post graduate diploma in Public Management from Victoria University, is a strong supporter of the BLUES rugby team and a proud Westie. She has a daughter called Tyla and three grandchildren who are Samoan/Maori.
National Youth Rep
Natalie is originally from the beautiful island of Taveuni in Fiji. She migrated to New Zealand in 2009 with her family and currently lives, works and studies Project Management in Whangarei. She also volunteers around her local community.
She joined PACIFICA Whangarei Branch in 2016 with her mother and sister. Natalie aspires to inspire the Pacifica youth. Her role is to support our young members and be their voice on the Executive Committee.