Meet the Le Va team
Our people make our purpose happen. Our team shares a rich and diverse background bringing decades of relevant life experience. We are proud of our culture and heritage, and embrace our ancestry from the Pacific and around the world. Together we work alongside NGOs, DHBs, community organisations, government agencies, education providers and national bodies throughout New Zealand.
MA (Hons), PGDipClinPsych
Executive Assistant’s DDI – 09 261 3487
I am a registered clinical psychologist of Tongan descent and the CE of Le Va.
In my 20 years as a psychologist, I have served the community working for the Department of Justice and District Health Boards’ community mental health services, working directly with at-risk individuals and supervising staff. I have led the design and development of two national suicide prevention programmes funded by the Ministry of Health- FLO: Pasifika for Life and LifeKeepers.
I have published widely and I am a member of the Suicide Mortality Review Committee for the Health Quality and Safety Commission, and the Psychology Advisory Group for the Ministry of Health. I currently chair Pasifikology, which is a national network of Pasifika psychologists in NZ.
Dr Elizabeth Mati
09 261 3448
I am passionate about developing effective Pasifika interventions and solutions which lead to Pasifika people unleashing their full potential. I am a registered clinical psychologist and have been working within Pasifika communities for over 15 years in educational, forensic and mental health settings. My father hails from the village of Sa’anapu in Upolu, Samoa, while my mother is of English descent. Family and relationships are two of my central values, which attracted me to the Le Va way of doing things. I currently live in South Auckland with my partner, Tino, our two daughters, Isabelle and Hope, and our son, Lua’itaua.
In my previous roles as a DHB Manager and clinical psychologist for Pasifika mental health services, I supported the development and provision of culturally appropriate assessment and interventions for Pasifika young people, who often had sexual and violent trauma histories, and their families. I also had a focus on quality improvement and integrating services for child and adolescent mental health.
My background in research explored factors leading to positive behaviour change in South Auckland young people who had offended, and I completed my internship at Corrections working with female and male high-risk violent offenders in prison and community settings.
Senior manager - Disability & public health
09 261 3486
I joined the Le Va team in November 2014 and have worked in the health sector for more than 15 years.
My passion is working with people, particularly moving towards positive outcomes for our Pacific people and communities. This is reflected in my role which is responsible for improving access to disability support services for Pasifika people and breaking down barriers around stigma in the Pasifika community.
I’ve also worked in mental health for more than eight years in various roles including coordinator for consumer support services, community support worker and also youth facilitator for the Like Minds Like Mine project. Before joining Le Va I was an Intensive Service Coordinator at Taikura Trust, for the intellectual disability/mental health stream. I facilitated holistic needs based assessments and coordinated appropriate supports for people with disabilities, many of them Pasifika families in the Auckland area.
I am of Tongan descent and was born and raised in Auckland. My father, Ikamafana, hails from Niua, though born and raised in Kolofo’ou Nuku’alofa. My mother, Alisi, is from Vaini, Tongatapu. I am a father of four beautiful kids.
Leilani Fina’i Clarke
Senior manager suicide prevention - Pacific
09 261 3423
I currently lead the FLO Talanoa suicide prevention education programme that aims to equip our Pasifika families and communities with the right tools and information to prevent suicide.
I have 13 years’ experience within the New Zealand public sector, having worked for both the Ministry of Social Development and the Department of Corrections. My strengths are in training strategy, planning, needs analysis and delivery for adult learners, having led the development and implementation of varying training initiatives on both a regional and national level.
I have worked on various projects over the years in both creating and re-contextualising a range of staff training packages within the Department of Corrections, ranging from frontline staff to senior management. I have experience in large scale design and implementation projects in Change Management supporting staff through organisational change and transition.
I have also worked within the Pasifika community as the Regional Pacific advisor, to enhance services and engagement with Pasifika offenders, their families and Pasifika communities.
Finally, I am the Company Director and co-founder of family-based Theatre Company Kinetic Wayfinding, that focuses on the concepts of wellbeing through a holistic theatre approach working with youth.
Senior manager suicide prevention - LifeKeepers
09 301 3734
I am a mokopuna, daughter, mother and grandmother hailing from Tauranga Moana where my tīpuna arrived on both the Mataatua and Takitumu waka. I whakapapa to all three iwi Ngai te Rangi, Ngati Pukenga and Ngati Ranginui; I also whakapapa to Ngāi Tahu (Kai Tahu).
I am the Senior Manager for New Zealand’s very own national suicide prevention programme, LifeKeepers and Mana Akiaki – LifeKeepers for Māori.
My professional background started in Public Health where I spent 14 years working in the Bay of Plenty; following this I spent five years working in Australia where I was afforded the privilege of working with Victoria Police, Department of Corrections, Specialist Family Violence and Sexual Assault Services, Child Protection Services and non-government community support services where I was responsible for establishing the first of 18 Family Violence Risk Assessment and Management Panels (RAMP) for the Victoria State Government. On my return to Aotearoa I took up another exciting challenge of working for Housing First Auckland in the homelessness sector. Finally, my most recent and closest to my heart venture has now landed me with Le Va leading New Zealand’s National Suicide Prevention Programme – LifeKeepers.
My university background is in Public Health, Social Policy and Psychology. I have also studied and qualified in other areas such as Cervical Screening, Lactation Consultant, and Smoking Cessation.
Senior manager – Mental health and addiction
09 301 9629
My name is Mark Esekielu. I grew up in Auckland with a house full of family migrating from Fasito’otai and Letogo in the beautiful island of Samoa. Attending church services and living in a community filled of other Pasifika people has laid the foundation for my love of working with our communities and more importantly, the understanding of service (tautua).
Trained as a social worker, I’ve worked in child protection, youth justice, youth development, suicide prevention and mental health and addiction services which has allowed me the privilege to follow this love for over 25 years.
Along the way I have begun to understand my obligations to tāngata whenua and a different whānau context with my own four children. I am married to Cherie, my beautiful wahine toa, who has whakapapa to Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Maruw’arenui and Ngāti Raukawa and we share three out of my four children who motivate me daily to try and make our world a place we can all flourish.
I joined Le Va in September 2022 as the senior manager for our Mental health and addiction portfolio where I will continue to serve our Pasifika communities.
Senior manager - Violence prevention
021 0220 1118
Bio coming soon!
Office manager & Executive assistant
09 261 3487
Appointed as Executive Assistant, I am responsible for supporting our Chief Executive Officer.
Prior to joining Le Va, I have over 9 years of experience working for the New Zealand public sector, primarily within the Justice and Correctional Services. My strengths are in administration and secretarial duties, carried through to be able to perform at a district level, case management- including risk analysis, assessments, report writing inclusive of providing recommendations for rehabilitative and reintegrative requirements, networking and New Zealand legislation.
I am passionate about social justice and change and exploring solutions to problems believing they lie within our own communities.
I am privileged to have come from an interracial background, my mother having both Māori and Samoan ties, from the Hokianga in the upper north island and the villages of Sapunaoa in the Falealili District and Vailuutai in Apia. My father is of European descent.
I enjoy working with those who are driven to influence positive change, who work hard and have a great sense of humour.
Operations support manager
09 261 3454
Malo e lelei, ko hoku hingoa ko Luseane Minoneti Valu and I hail from the villages of Ma’ufanga, ‘Eua mo Niua and Lapaha in Tonga.
Like other Pasifika people, I share their innate desire to be of service to my community. In pursuit of fulfilling this desire, I joined Le Va in 2019 as an intern where I became part of the privileged few who get to experience the fulfilment of their purpose through everyday work. Since then, I have stepped into a youth development role focusing in aiding Le Va in implementing youth strategies across the organisation to ensure Le Va is responsive to the needs of Pasifika youth in our communities.
Something of importance to me is my family, whom I carry with me wherever I go. They are the roots which hold me firm to the soil as I continue to grow in all directions in my varying social identities. It is their love and sacrifice, which motivates me to succeed when my own desire to do so wanes. And with their steadfast support, I have been lucky enough to taste some of the sweet fruits which life has to offer. By acknowledging the blessings I am bestowed with, I endeavour to use my privilege to lift others up in our community and ensure the world my siblings grow up in becomes better with each day that passes.
To our beautiful Pasifika community, understand there is an untapped potential within you waiting to be nurtured and shared with the world. So, be firm with your goal at hand and flexible with your approach.
I am excited about the journey ahead, and I hope to see you soon out in the community.
Bio coming soon!
Communications and engagement manager
Malo e lelei, kia ora koutou, my name is Kirsten Brown and I am a proud wāhine toa of Tongan, Māori (Ngāti Awa), and Pākehā heritage.
I had the honour of joining Le Va in April 2023, where my role as Communications and Engagement Manager allows me to share the stories of our amazing team and the Pacific communities we serve.
I was born and raised in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, and my parents both hail from Nuku’alofa in Tonga. Mum and Dad met in Auckland after their families migrated to Aotearoa in the late 1960s.
Like so many of their forebears, my grandparents on both sides crossed oceans in search of new opportunities for their whānau. I am grateful to have the blood of explorers and adventurers running through my veins, and proud to call Aotearoa home.
I like the whakataukī, “Ahakoa he iti, he pounamu” – although it is small, it is a treasure – and the Tongan proverb “Si’i pe kae hā” – we are a small island, but we are still great. To me, they mean you don’t need to have the most resources, money, or people to succeed or have value.
I believe Le Va embodies that idea as an organisation that excels while remaining humble, where our purpose unites us and makes us stronger.
Senior communications coordinator
Malo le soifua maua ma le lagi e mama. O lo’u igoa o Love Ioane.
I was born in Palmerston North and later moved to Auckland. I also spent a few years living in American Samoa and Apia. I proudly represent my Fenunuti family in Falease’ela, Lefaga, and my Taito Malietoa-Tauasa Tanumafili family in Manase, Savai’i.
Graduated with a Master of Business majoring in Accounting and Finance which led me to working as an accountant for five years. My highlight was working for the Ministry of Finance in Samoa. Returning to Aotearoa, I changed to sales and marketing which led to a fulfilling career in business development and stakeholder engagement. I’ve had many positive experiences and met many amazing people along the way within the vocational training, information technology, retail, and music industries.
I’ve always been passionate and driven to help my family and community. This passion has guided many of the decisions I made in my personal and professional life. The very cause of how I ended up at Le Va. I aim to use this passion and experience to amplify and enhance the life-changing work that Le Va already does.
I currently live in Bombay/Pukekohe with my partner and kids. I spend most of my weekends spending quality time with family and Church. I love music, creatives, reading, culture, and anything technology related. If you’re interested in any of those, we will surely get along well.
E le sua se lolo i se popo e tasi. O le tele fo’i o sulu e maua ai figota. Ma e mama se avega pe a ta pulupululima fa’atasi. These metaphors explain the importance of working as a collective village and community. Strength and change come not from one person, but from many who believe in the same purpose and goal.
Soifua ma Ia Manuia
Senior project coordinator
Malo e lelei, my name is Masiu Tuipulotu, known to many as Max. I am a proud New Zealand born Tongan, by way of Ōtāhuhu. Mum is from Fo’ui, Lavengatonga, Matahau, Ha’avakatolo and Fatai in Tongatapu and Dad is from Koulo and Faleloa in Ha’apai.
My father once said to me “Koe nima ke ngaue, tokoni pea foaki” – your hands are made to work, help and serve”. This is what I hope to bring to Le Va as a Senior Project Coordinator for the FLO team, to learn and serve my people and community.
By profession I am a registered social worker, which was driven by my passion for working with young people and helping unlock their full potential and guiding them in the fields they hope to excel in.
My experience before joining Le Va has been a humbling journey. From being a youth worker in secondary schools helping disengaged students who are at risk of being expelled, to a senior social worker providing social support to young Pacific mothers under 20 years old and offering a wraparound service for them. All great experiences that have helped prepare me for this new adventure with Le Va.
A big passion I have is in creative arts. I have been a Punake (choreographer for Tongan dance) creating dance pieces for young people performing on the Tongan stage in the Auckland secondary school’s Polynesian festival. I taught at tertiary level for the past 15 years, and I continue to teach a creative way of mixing traditional and modern movements to entertain an audience.
Talofa lava, my name is Taryn-Indianna Hainsworth-Fa’aofo. I am a first-generation New Zealand born Samoan from the villages of Vaimoso, Faleapuna and Magiagi.
I am a passionate advocate for equitable health outcomes for our Pasifika people and Tangata Whenua.
As a student who began and completed their education during a pandemic, I was inspired to complete my degree and enter the workforce to make a difference. My drive was fuelled by seeing the inequities my people and communities endured during this time. Despite the difficulties of studying during a pandemic, I graduated with a Bachelor of Health Science with a primary focus on public and Pasifika health.
I am proud to be working in a vital space that delivers a Pasifika cultural competency programme that will improve unfavourable health outcomes to benefit future Pasifika generations.
In addition to my role at Le Va, I am also a qualified muscle therapist and for the last six years I have been heavily involved in working with many professional rugby teams both nationally and internationally.
09 300 6777
Talofa lava, my name is Nicholas Cao.
I am a second-generation New Zealand-born Samoan with Irish ancestry, raised in Manurewa, South Auckland. My grandfather hails from the village of Safotu, Savai’i, and both he and my grandmother migrated to New Zealand in the 1940s. I am also Italian. My father hails from the rural village of Stevena di Caneva in northern Italy. I am married and share three beautiful children with my Malaysian-born, Kiwi wife Masha. Outside of work you might find me at a sports ground with my children or having some fun to keep fit and well.
I completed a Bachelor of Arts at the University of Auckland before working in a variety of roles, which included working as a youth worker for disadvantaged youth in the justice system, and telephone counselling for the national children’s helpline 0800WHATSUP.
My life experiences, faith and family were instrumental in my choosing to return to a further three years of postgraduate study in health psychology at the University of Auckland. In doing so, I was fortunate to receive a Le Va Futures that Work scholarship, so it is a blessing to now come full circle and join the Le Va aiga as Clinical Lead for Mental Health and Addictions.
I’ve been privileged to work in primary mental health and addictions settings, specialist hospital settings (diabetes), to now supporting communities with Le Va. The Pasifika mental health and addictions workforce needs support to keep growing, and to remain at the edge of innovation to meet the needs of our fast-growing and diverse Pasifika population.
09 301 3723
Fakaalofa lahi atu kia mutolu oti!
My name is Laura Tongalea-Nolan.
I am a DAPAANZ registered professional. Over the past 13 years I have practised as a drug and alcohol practitioner within both primary and secondary mental health settings, and within community, residential and forensic addiction services. I have delivered individual, group and family interventions to those affected by mental health and addiction challenges, and have supported individuals at all levels of acuity. More recently I have taken up Pacific leadership roles in a variety of settings, one of these being within one of New Zealand’s biggest residential alcohol and drug treatment providers, with a focus on partnering with Corrections to deliver Pasifika clinical interventions to those in custody. I am grateful for all of the opportunities that I have been blessed with and look forward to my journey continuing within the Le Va magafaoa.
As a first generation, New Zealand-born Niuean (Avatele village) I have an understanding of the challenges that come with living within the Pacific diaspora in Aotearoa New Zealand. I understand the many ways Pasifika relate to their homelands, traditions and their respective Pacific worldviews within a contemporary Aotearoa New Zealand context. My mother was born in Niue as the youngest of 11, and migrated to New Zealand with her parents and her siblings in the late 1960s, when she was five years old. Of her siblings, she was the only one to complete school certificate within the New Zealand education system and to then go on and complete tertiary level study – graduating as a registered nurse in 1998 and practising as a psychiatric nurse for some 20 years. I credit my mother for the lifestyle and the privileges that we are able to experience today, and as such, throughout my career I have been committed to serving our Pacific communities and improving alcohol and drug service delivery to enhance the experiences of Pasifika within mental health and addictions services and beyond.
I too am a mother, to three beautiful little girls – Sunny, Mahina, and Ala, who motivate me in all that I do.
Senior project coordinator
09 261 3455
Talofa Lava my name is Ella Hazel Fitu-Mau.
I am of Samoan and German descent and hail from the villages of Salei’a and Malie in the beautiful islands of Samoa.
I was born in Auckland, raised in both South Auckland and on the North Shore.
I come from a family of 5. I am a wife and mother of a beautiful daughter, Journey.
I joined the Le Va aiga in February of 2021 as Project Coordinator for Le Va’s Mental Health and Addictions team. My role is to support and coordinate all of our Mental Health and Addictions programmes. I am privileged to have joined a team whose purpose is to support Pasifika families and communities to unleash their full potential.
Outside of work, I am heavily involved with our local Church as a youth leader, developing the ability of youth to analyse their own strengths and weaknesses, set personal and professional goals, increase their self-esteem, confidence, motivation and abilities.
My heart and passion is for our Pasifika youth, seeing them thrive as our leaders of tomorrow and in all God has planned. Le Va’s Futures that Work scholarships and mentoring programme allows to me to be submerged in this purpose.
Senior project coordinator
Bio coming soon!
Senior project coordinator
Talofa lava, my name is Angel Timali Tiatia-Siau and I was born in American Samoa. I hail from the villages of Fagasa in Tutuila, Tuana’i and Lalomanu in Upolu.
I attained a Bachelor’s degree in Counselling and a Postgraduate degree in Mental Health and Addiction.
I have gained a wealth of knowledge from my counselling background in mental health and addiction, working with taiohi in the youth justice sector, and also working in the tertiary space. My drive is to see Pasifika succeed.
Senior project coordinator
09 261 3403
Tālofa lava, my name is Aysia Paeu. I use the pronouns she/her. I am a New Zealand born – Samoan and was raised in the beautiful suburb of Ōtara, South Auckland.
I hail from the Samoan villages of Lalomanu, Vaimoso, Sapunaoa and Asaga.
I attended the University of Otago, where I completed a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Psychology and was involved in a range of voluntary work within the Pasifika student community.
As a Le Va Futures that Work scholarship and Le Tautua programme recipient, I am honoured to formally join the Le Va aiga.
I am passionate about fostering the social and academic potentials of Pasifika, so joining the Le Va team will allow me to professionally embody my passion.
A Samoan proverb I hold dear is “E lele a le toloa ae maau I le vai”, which loosely translates as a toloa (Samoan duck) will fly away but will always return to where the water is. I interpret this as no matter where or how far I go, I will always return to my cultural roots.
Senior project coordinator
To God be the Glory and All Glory is His.
I acknowledge tangata whenua and pay my respects to the elders of the past, present, future and emerging.
My name is Joice Tevaga and my roots stem from the beautiful villages of Samusu Aleipata, Afega, Fasito’otai, and Samalae’ulu, Savaii, where the volcano of Mt Matavanu erupted in 1905-1911. Our village was one of several who were affected and displaced but courageously founded the promise land of Leauva’a in Upolu.
Born in Auckland, I was raised in Grey Lynn in my early years and my parents thereafter moved and settled in the suburb of Avondale.
My background work is in community development and social work working in the education and social services sector. I have had broad opportunities with establishing playgroups in communities, working alongside young people in schools, truancy, alternative education and in residential settings.
I have since returned home from living in Australia for over ten years raising my family. My partner Gary, my two daughters Kree Summer and Raydiance, and my two sons Psalms and Ephraim.
I am blessed to be part of a flourishing Pasifika organisation that rises to its service to and for Pasifika mental health.
09 261 3483
Talofa Lava, Fakaalofa Lahi Atu,
I am a New Zealand born Samoan-Niuean and raised in East Auckland in the suburb of Glen Innes.
I come from the villages of Letogo, Apia in Samoa and Alofi North of Niue Island.
I come from a strong Pasifika background and appreciate the opportunity to work for an organisation that closely aligns with the values I hold very close to my heart; reciprocity, service and inclusion, respect, spirituality, leadership and family, only to name a few. As a young Pasifika woman, I have always wanted to be a part of an establishment that works with our community. I am privileged to be in a position where I can be a voice for our Pasifika people to encourage and uplift them to unleash their full potential.
It takes a village to raise a child, and I owe all of who I am today to my family. I am blessed to be made of the heart and rock of the Pacific.
Navigating two worlds, although an amazing experience, can often be challenging. I have learned to infuse the learnings from my ancestors and the modern world to allow me to live by traditional values with a contemporary execution all of which Le Va’s work incorporates.
My late Grandfather, Elipo Muliamalu Petelo Lui, taught me the value of “Alofa” (love) – which is where my love for our people derives.
My Great Grandmother, Mokalaniti Tafoulua, instilled in me the importance of being present. By being present we are able to better understand, listen, learn and appreciate. I continue to listen, I continue to learn, and I always continue to appreciate the heritage that has made me, me.
I now desire to take these learning and apply the teachings and sacrifice of the ones before me, in the hope that future generations flourish.
Senior project coordinator
09 261 3404
I am a proud Samoan Māori man with a whakapapa to Te Rarawa in the far north of Aotearoa and from the beautiful village of Lefaga, Upolu Samoa. Born in Christchurch, I am a proud dad of three adult children along with the joys of his life – my five gorgeous mokopuna!
I come to Le Va with broad experience in both the commercial and community sectors as a former business owner and as a community and youth pastor.
I am passionate about raising the profile of indigenous wellbeing models and I am looking forward to contributing to the notions of kaitiakitanga evidenced in the LifeKeepers whānau and mahi.
Senior project coordinator
Bio coming soon!
Bio coming soon!
Taitu'uga Mirofora Mataafa-Komiti
BA (Hons), MA (First Class Hons)
Primary prevention manager
09 261 3445
O le a taoto ia o le fiso ma ona lau, lafo ane foi le taula i malolo ae mapu ane i Niafane e pei o le upu i le va’a o le Sagalala, ae lalaga foe o le savili aua se leo fa’atauva’a o le auauna ou te fa’apea atu ai: Talofa, Talofa, Talofa lava!
My name is Aiolupotea Taitu’uga Mirofora Mataafa-Komiti from the villages of Falelima, Salesatele (Falealili) and Lufilufi, Samoa.
I have always been passionate about working for my Pasifika communities and honoured to be part of an organisation that puts the Pasifika community at the centre of everything it does. Concepts such as alofa (love), aiga (family), tautua (service), fa’aaloalo (respect) and God are always at the heart of what we do.
My background is in tertiary education as a Professional Teaching Fellow for Te Wananga o Waipapa School of Māori Studies and School of Pacific Studies at the University of Auckland for over six years. During my tenure, I convened the Samoan Language papers – my own qualifications from Pacific Studies, with a BA (Hons) First Class and an MA (First Class Honours) from the University of Auckland.
I am the eldest of eight children by loving parents Rev Logopati and Lealofisa Mataafa. I am a wife but most importantly, I am a mother to four beautiful children. These roles I do not take lightly, and I hold first and foremost in my heart.
I’m also a proud member of my Samoan Methodist Church, Women’s Fellowship, a Sunday School teacher, a youth leader and dare I say, the best alto singer in our choir (although others would say I am dreaming!). I am also involved in my village associations.
Community engagement lead
09 238 4718
My name is Charles Fred Lavea and I joined the Le Va team in July 2021 as Senior Project Coordinator for Atu-Mai.
I am of Samoan descent and was born in Auckland. My Father, Malaefou Seelua Lavea, hails from Samatau in Upolu, Samoa, and my beautiful Mother hails from Saipipi, in Savaii, Samoa. I am also the father of two beautiful girls, Cara and Massiel.
I am a proud Samoan male who has built his career in serving our Pasifika community. My passion is creating a safe space for our people to find their identity and voice, leading them to feel heard and seen.
Before joining Le Va, I served our communities within organisations such as Harmony Trust, Reconnect Family Services and Te Wananga o Aotearoa.
I am a strong advocate for vulnerability. I believe there is Mana in sharing your story, and owning your flaws, mistakes and pain, in order to overcome them. You never know who you can impact with your story.
Community engagement lead
09 890 9283
Talofa lava, my name is Taeao Napo. I’m a proud Samoan, representing the beautiful villages of Satui Malufilufi and Falelatai.
A husband and father of four children, standing on the shoulders of Anitelea (dad) and Vae (mum) Napo with the prayers of my grandparent, I come as one but stand with a village of warriors who have paved the way for my life’s journey.
Faith, family, and culture have always been important to me which has given me the passion to help our Pasifika discover the importance of values and embracing our cultural identity.
Joining the Le Va aiga, as Project Coordinator for Le Va’s violence prevention programme, Atu-Mai, I have the privilege of journeying alongside our Pasifika fathers to talanoa, share stories, and support one another to enable them to raise thriving and flourishing families.
Learning and evaluation lead
09 261 3437
Talofa lava, o lo’u igoa o Hidoria Onesemo-Tuilaepa. I am Samoan born and bred with roots in Lepa, Vavau, Falealili, and Vailoa Palauli.
As a daughter of the Pacific, the values of collectivism and service underpin and motivate my desire to be of service to our people and communities. Ole naunauta’iga ia fai se sao ma se aoga mo le si’itia o le tulaga o tagata Pasifika i Aotearoa aua se lumana’i manuia o tatou fanau ma aiga.
My background is in policy and social sciences, specifically in community development, social development, and education in both New Zealand and Samoa.
My role as a Project Coordinator in the Atu-Mai Violence Prevention Team has given me the privilege to work in an area which I am passionate about, as well as directly engaging with Pasifika people. As the Samoan proverb goes, ‘E fofo e le alamea, le alamea’, I believe Pasifika people hold our stories, challenges, triumphs and solutions – it is just a matter of giving them the platform and agency to voice, drive and lead these changes.
I am the eldest of nine, but like many Pasifika families, have been raised amongst a village of aunties, uncles, cousins, and parents who collectively continue to pray, sacrifice, and support me. I am the product of my grandma’s prayers, my parents’ labour of love, my aunt and uncles’ sacrifices and my siblings’ support; and I hope to reciprocate their efforts.
027 228 6104
Colossians 3:17 ‘And whatever you do, whether in word or in deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ giving thanks to God our Father through him. All praise and glory to God first and foremost.’
I am a Tongan / Niuean woman who proudly represents the villages of Tongoleleka – Ha’apai, Koulo – Ha’apai, Holonga – Vava’u, Halafo’ou – Tongatapu and Alofi North – Niue.
Appointed as project manager, my role at Le Va is to focus on youth development with current projects centred upon Pacific wellbeing, cultural identity, student success and student voice.
Prior to my role at Le Va, I was an Educational Psychologist for the Ministry of Education. My five years of experience in frontline practice grew my passion for working with young people, and I enjoyed upskilling professionals, parents, and educators on how to better support and engage with all kinds of young people.
My area of expertise and research includes and is not limited to topics of wellbeing, mental health, student success, suicidality, neurodiversity, self-care, challenging or extreme behaviours and education systems. I take pride in the talanoa I have with communities and problem solving and simplifying complex situations. I bring with me all these skills to Le Va.
Senior project coordinator
Talofa lava! My name is Sipili-Niu Lal, known to many as Pili.
I am a Youth Project Coordinator here at Le Va and I love that I am part of exuding their vision of unleashing the full potential of our Pasifika youth and communities, bringing about change and making a real difference for our people.
I am of Samoan and Tongan descent, New Zealand-born and raised in the hearty South Auckland. My Polynesian roots stem from my beautiful parents; my mother who hails from Matāutu, Lefaga and my father who comes from Tuanaimato, Lepea and the nation of Tonga. I also carry with me the legacy and dreams of my grandparents who migrated to Aotearoa in the late 1960s with dreams of a fresh start for their family and a fruitful continuation of their legacy.
A daughter of God, a wife to my darling husband Angelo, a child to my hardworking parents and a creative – it is my faith, my family and my village that are the foundations that keep me grounded. It is passion for people, creativity and being purposeful that drives me in all that I do.
Before Le Va, my professional background has predominantly been in the Talent Acquisition / HR corporate space, but I have always volunteered in community and youth spaces whether that be as a youth leader in church or mentoring and tutoring young people throughout my journey.
I believe we all play a part in championing change in our communities and so here I am, in my sphere of influence, serving our beautiful Pasifika youth and communities and helping them to be at their best! What an honour and blessing.
Senior project coordinator
09 301 9620
My name is Jim To’o Filiva’a Stretton and I joined Le Va in January 2022 as a Youth Project Coordinator for the youth wellbeing programme. I am of Samoan and European descent and I hail from the villages of Saleimoa, Iva and Salelologa. I am married to the beautiful Naomi Stretton and we are the proud parents of our only son who is also named Jim.
My passion for youth comes from my mother, Luamanuvae Ruth Lavalea Stretton, currently the Deputy Principal of Otahuhu College, and my father, Leatigaga Jim Stretton, who has worked for over 30 years in education as a Director of Te Kura O Waipuna, an activity centre for troubled youth. The impact they have had on our community is second to none and everything has been done with grace and humility.
Prior to joining Le Va I worked in schools and have always developed strong relationships with our youth. Some of the proudest moments in my career have not been on a stage receiving awards, but by being a role model for our youth to look up to. There is so much untapped potential in our Pasifika youth and to see their potential unfold is one of the greatest blessings I have had the privilege to witness.
I have always admired the work that Le Va does as they address the deeper issues our communities face. I appreciate the safe space they provide for our Pasifika people. I am excited to be a part of an organisation that helps to create change.
I pray that I can one day look back at the end of my career and see that I have affected change in a way that would make my parents proud.
John Apelu Crouch
09 890 9282
Talofa lava, my name is John Apelu Crouch, and I joined Le Va in August of 2022 as a Project Coordinator for our Atu-Mai team. I am Samoa-born and raised in the village of Tufulele.
I joined Le Va with the purpose to use its evidence-based resources to change the narrative for our Pasifika community. My passion to serve Pasifika communities derives from my family, and church upbringing. I am dedicated to our youth as I strongly believe this is the stage of life where we can nurture and bring out the full potential of our youth.
One of my strengths is the creative arts which I utilise as a tool to heal and restore wellbeing. I appreciate the safe environment Le Va provides for our people and I look forward to the many adventures with our amazing team.
Bio coming soon!
Reverend Uesifili Unasa
Le Va Matua
Reverend Uesifili Unasa is of Samoan descent and is an ordained minister in the Methodist Church of New Zealand.
He is a senior leader in the national Methodist mission and is currently an Ecumenical Chaplain at the North Shore Hospital.
Uesifili is interested in national and international political processes having completed postgraduate studies in US foreign policies post World War II and New Zealand political history.