News Item

PCF congratulates four Pacific 2020 Women of Influence NZ Award winners

Success Stories 19 Nov 2020

The Pacific Cooperation Foundation (PCF) extends its warm congratulations to the strong contingent of Pacific women who were announced as winners in the 2020 Women of Influence NZ Awards.

PCF Chair Fiso John Fiso says, "Having four Pacific women announced as part of these prestigious awards is hugely exciting and encouraging for Pacific women in New Zealand right now, and I believe for the whole of New Zealand for that matter, given our strong connections to the Pacific region geographically, culturally, economically, historically and constitutionally.

"Home to the largest Pacific population in the world, this recognition of the strong contribution and calibre of Pacific women in New Zealand has been a long time coming, and I truly believe that all the hard work and sacrifices over generations are finally paying off for Pacific women who are the backbone of Pacific families, and are often our quiet leaders and unsung heroes."

Latest statistics show that Pacific women disproportionately worse off across a range of income and employment measures. According to data from the Public Service Association, drawn from Statistics NZ figures, Pasifika women earned on average 25.4 per cent less than Pakeha men.

"But these statistics will change and the wave for Pacific women is building in strength and velocity," says Fiso John Fiso.

"Not only do we now have a strong Maori wahine announced as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Hon. Nanaia Mahuta, who has expressed a strong commitment to the Pacific and who will work closely with Minister for Pacific Peoples and Associate Minister of Foreign Affairs Hon. Aupito William Sio, we have a strong line-up of Pacific female MPs and Ministers in this 53rd Parliament, and we are now seeing a rising up of Pacific women in all spheres of leadership from arts and culture, to non-Government, to youth leadership and life-long leadership.

"This is a powerful time for Pacific women and the Pacific Cooperation is truly proud of your successes," Fiso John Fiso said.

The four Pacific awards winners are:

Arts & Culture: Parris Goebel, creative director and choreographer who has worked with international artists including Rihanna, Jennifer Lopez, Shakira, Ariana Grande and Janet Jackson. In 2018, Parris established The Palace Academy of Dance for Maori and Pasifika youth and is a co-founder of Sisters United NZ, a charitable trust established to empower Maori and Pasifika young women.

Parris Goebel

Diversity: Tupe Solomon-Tanoa’i, Chief Philanthropic Officer of the Michael and Suzanne Borrin Foundation which funds projects to bring about transformational change in the criminal justice system and family law. Tupe is also the creator and co-founder of the web series ‘Misadventures of Pacific Professional’ which was nominated for Best Show at the 2019 New Zealand Web Fest and Best International Drama at the Melbourne Web Fest. Her chat show ‘Talanoa with Tupe’ showcases successful Pasifika people, particularly women.

Tupe Solomon-Tanoa'i

Young Leader: Aigagalefili Fepulea’i Tapua’i, Head Girl at Auckland’s Aorere College and an Indigenous and climate activist. She is a founding member and chair of 4 Tha Kulture, an indigenous South Auckland youth environmentalist collective which co-organised the largest and most recent School Strike for Climate. She was the 2019 New Zealand Storytellers High School Public Speaking Champion, the New Zealand representative at the 2021 Global Young Leaders Conference, and had her poetry published in The Poetry New Zealand Yearbook 2019.

As an advocate for low socioeconomic and South Auckland youth, Fili worked with the School March Against Violence and aims to uplift marginalised youth in her community.

Aigagalefili Fepulea'i Tapua'i

Lifetime Achievement: Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban. In 1999, Hon. Luamanuvao Dame Winnie Laban became the first Pacific Island woman to be elected to the New Zealand Parliament. She was Minister of Pacific Island Affairs, Minister for the Community and Voluntary Sector, and Associate Minister of Social Development, Economic Development and Trade.

Dame Winnie resigned from Parliament in 2010 to take up her current role. She is chair of the Public Services Commission Public Service Pacific Fale Governance Group; patron of the Wellington Pasifika Business Network and the Cancer Society Relay for Life; a Creative New Zealand Arts Council board member; and a member of the New Zealand Institute of Directors and the Council of the National University of Samoa.

Dame Luamanuvao Winnie Laban