NZ's New Year Honors Recognizes Services To The Pacific

Various inductees into the The New Zealand Order of Merit, double Olympic gold medallist shotputter, Valerie Adams headlining

WELLINGTON, New Zealand (Radio New Zealand International, December 31, 2016) – Pacific people have been recognised for services to their communities in the New Year Honours list, with two receiving the highest honour.

New Zealand's double Olympic gold medallist shotputter, Valerie Adams, is now a Dame.

A world-renowned shot putter, Dame Valerie has won four World Championship gold medals, two Olympic gold medals, three Commonwealth Games gold medals, and three World Indoor Championship gold medals.

She is only the second New Zealand Dame to be recognised for sport since Susan Devoy in 1998 and says she hopes her New Year's honours recognition inspires more Pacific women to chase their dreams.

Dame Valerie said the journey had sometimes been a tough one.

"I'm a strong wahine, I'm a strong woman from south Auckland and with a very very strong background of being half Tongan and half English but born and bred in New Zealand, south Auckland, and I think that's been a massive part to my achievements on and off the field," she said.

Dame Valerie said it was "awesome" to receive the honour at age 32 and to be able to enjoy it with her family.

She had previously been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2009 honours.

Niue's Premier Toke Talagi has been made a Knight Companion of the New Zealand order of merit

He's been Premier of Niue since 2008 and a Common Roll member of the Niue Assembly since 1999.

Sir Toke said the Knighthood came as a complete surprise.

"I wasn't expecting this, I'm very happy that I have been able to assist my country and develop it to what it is at the present moment," he said.

Toke Talagi has overseen a significant expansion of the tourism industry resulting in increased jobs and income for the people of Niue.

Chairman of the Pacific Cooperation Foundation, Peter Thomas Kiely said he is humbled and overwhelmed to be honoured for services to New Zealand's interest in the Pacific and the law.

He has been made a Member of The New Zealand Order of Merit.

Mr Kiely has worked in the Pacific for 30 years promoting sustainable economic development to improve the standard of living in the region.

He said his interest in the Pacific was piqued after a volunteer trip to Fiji.

"My first year after school I worked in Fiji on a volunteer programme and that sparked my interest in the Pacific and I could see what needed to be done in terms of economic and human development challenges and I've spent the last couple decades encouraging what I hope to be sustainable economic development."

My Kiely has served on a variety of boards and councils including the Board of Pacific Forum Line, the Industrial Relations Centre Advisory Board and the Fiji-New Zealand Business Council but he said he will never forget founding the Papua New Guinea New Zealand Business Council.

"It took years to establish and we got it off the ground and now we've got money in the bank and it's a very successful business council, it took awhile but I'm happy."

Over the past three decades things have definitely changed in the way business is operated he said.

"I think in some Pacific island places, particularly in the Cook Islands, Samoa and Niue, you see a lot more tourism, and small businesses, and small businesses become medium sized businesses."

"What I've tried to work to do is to make sure that the Pacific islands become more economically self sufficient and less dependent on overseas aid which often has string attached."

Mr Kiely said the honour is recognition of all those who have helped and supported him and of the work by councils, Pacific island trade and invest, and Pacific cooperations who have helped create business in the Pacific.

John Fiso has been made an Officer of The New Zealand Order of Merit.

Mr Fiso has been recognised for his services to sport, education and the Pacific community.

He founded the New Zealand Institute of Sport and been has been instrumental in the development of a number of community events such as the Pacific Health and Talent Festival in Christchurch and the PACWELL secondary school cultural festival in Wellington.

Selupe Nahusita has been recognised for services to education and Māori and Pacific communities.

She founded the Rise UP Trust and one of New Zealand's first charter schools, Rise UP Academy, of which she is Chief Executive and Principal.

She considers it to be a real privilege to serve her community and education.

Selupe Nahusita she said she's extremely blessed to be acknowledged in this manner.

"When I do the work that I do, I'm very, very mindful that we are serving our great children when we do this work in education, and it's a excitement time to be alive, it's an exciting time to be Pasifika and I feel blessed at this time."

"For us Pasifika we are at times need a lot of home, a lot of encouragement and I think most of all a lot of love and I get to work with a really wonderful community of people through my work, and I've met some fabulous women and men around Aotearoa who've just helped what we want to do in education for Pasifika, it's been been amazing."

Reverend Pelu Tuai has been involved with the Presbyterian Church in New Zealand since 1982 and has been recognised for services to the Pacific community.

Over the course of 11 years Reverend Tuai worked to establish a purpose built church and hall facility for his Samoan parish and the wider Pacific community.

In 2009 Reverend Tuai helped establish a Pacific Island Synod within the Presbyterian Church of Aotearoa New Zealand.

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