Updated: Jun 25, 2020
6 June 2020
Tofilau Bernadette Pereira, National President of PACIFICA INC was recently recognised on the Queens Birthday Honours List and appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for her services to the Pacific community and women.
“I am so humbled and very appreciative to receive this award - “E le sili le ta’i i lo le tapua’i, it’s a real honour and acknowledgement of the many women who have inspired, mentored supported me and those I’ve worked with up to this point in time. That includes my family, friends, colleagues, my PACIFICA INC family and the wider Pasefika community, “ said Tofilau.
Tofilau paid special tribute to her mother and grandmother, and the women in her family who themselves were good leaders and role models who instilled in her values of family, faith and community as she was growing up in Samoa. “I learnt skills of the trade from my grandmother who I followed around in the village and saw how she was a strong voice and how she worked hard to organise and improve the quality of life for women, families, the villagers, in her role in the Komiti o tina/tama’ita’i (Womens committee) and as the matriarch in our extended family. She was definitely a force to be reckoned with, ” Tofilau added.
Tofilau has worked with Pasefika communities in the private and public sector for the past 30 years. She is a graduate from University of Canberra and was also bestowed the matai title of Tofilau by her family two years ago at Iva Savaii. Tofilau has been the National President of PACIFICA INC since being elected in 2017 and is currently serving her second term.
Other PACIFICA INC members, current and past, who received awards were Afamasaga Agnes Rasmussen who received a Queens Service Medal (QSM) for her services to education and the Pasefika community. Afamasaga is a veteran member of PACIFICA INC and a Life member of the Manukau branch. She has worked in the education sector for more than 50 years and is currently teaching at St Mary McKillop Catholic Church school in Mangere. (Bio attached)
Aseta Redican a founding PACIFICA INC member was also appointed as a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for her services to health and Pacific people and Lita Foliaki a former National Secretary of PACIFICA INC, as an Honorary member of the NZ Order of Merit for her services to the Pacific community. (Bios attached)
Bios from Queens Honours List 2020
TOFILAU Bernadette Barbara Pereira: Member of New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM), for services to women and Pacific community. Tofilau Bernadette has been a Community Development Practitioner for more than 30 years, working with and for communities to strengthen their capacity for community engagement. She was the inaugural President of the P.A.C.F.I.C.A Manukau Branch from 2013 to 2016 and the National Council of Women Manukau Branch from 2001 to 2005. She was the Pacific region’s youth representative on the governing body of the Commonwealth Youth Programme for three years. She represented the Pacific countries and territories for four years at the United Nations Commission on the Status of Women and led the largest delegation of Pacific women to the UN Fourth World Global Conference in 1995. Tofilau Bernadette currently volunteers for the Cultural Advisory Committee of the Pacific Medical Association, the Korean Positive Ageing Charitable Trust, the JOY International Folk Dancing and Social Services, the Auckland Catholic Diocese (Youth), and for the families and children of prisoners.
Afamasaga Agnes RASMUSSEN: Queens Service Medal (QSM) for services to education and the Pacific community.
Afamasaga Agnes Rasmussen has been involved with the education and community service sectors for more than 50 years.
Afamasaga Agnes has taught at primary, intermediate, and secondary levels, and is currently a teacher at St Mary McKillop Catholic School in Mangere. She has been a committee member of St Theresa’s Catholic Church for the past 52 years and was a founding member of the Mangere Writers’ Group in 2017. She has organised seminars and training sessions for Sunday School teachers for Samoan Catholic Schools in Auckland. She has been a member of the Post Primary Teachers Association’s Multicultural Education Advisory Committee and the Hillary Commission Women’s Task Force for Recreation and Sport. She has volunteered for PACIFICA Inc. for more than 40 years and is a Life Member of the Manukau branch. Afamasaga Agnes has volunteered to provide training and English lessons to new Samoan migrants in Auckland and was the first Pacific woman to be appointed to the Social Welfare Commission.
Mrs Aseta REDICAN: Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to health and Pacific peoples. Mrs Aseta Redican’s career and community service has focused on improving health and wellbeing outcomes for Pacific communities. Mrs Redican is a founding member of PACIFICA and the National Council of Samoan Women in New Zealand. She established the Pacific Island Church Groups’ Information Project, an innovative initiative fostering stronger connections between Pacific communities and the health sector. Her extensive experience includes being the first General Manager of Pacific Health for the Auckland District Health Board (ADHB) from 2001 until her retirement in 2009. In this role she established a Pacific Health Advisory Committee to the ADHB, two Pacific-led Primary Health Organisations, the Parish Nursing Pilot, and the Healthy Village Action Zones Pacific Community Development Initiative that still operates today. She was the first Pacific person to become a New Zealand-qualified physiotherapist. In 1991, she led the establishment of the new Pacific Island Heartbeat programme, under the National Heart Foundation. In this role, she worked within Pacific communities to encourage and support healthy lifestyles. Following her retirement, Mrs Redican spent years as a Board member of the Fred Hollows Foundation, Spectrum Care Trust and a Director of the National Heart Foundation.
Ms Lita FOLIAKI: Honorary member of MNZM for services to the Pacific community. Ms Lita Foliaki has made a major contribution to the development and empowerment of Pacific communities both regionally and nationally. Ms Foliaki has been Pacific Planning and Funding Manager at the Waitemata District Health Board since 2004. She developed the Enua Ola Programme, a healthy diet and activity initiative promoted through Pacific Churches and community groups and has also contributed to the areas of diabetes, cancer, mental health, immunisation, disabilities and bowel screening. She has contributed to strategies for Pacific Families with the Ministry of Social Development including cultural competency, family violence, social work practices and child safety. She was National Funding Manager for Pacific Health under the Health Funding Agency from 1997 to 2001. She was Chair of the Expert Panel which developed the Pacific Health Research Guidelines for the Health Research Council from 2001 to 2004. She has been an adviser for the Ministry of Health Pacific Provider Development Scheme, which funds initiatives to grow the Pacific health workforce. She helped establish Vaka Tautua, the first accredited Pacific Disability Provider in 2000. Ms Foliaki founded Heilala in 1989, a Tongan women’s group in Auckland, focusing on grassroots education and welfare programmes, and has been Secretary of Pacifica Women's national group.