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.
Senior project coordinator
09 261 3468
Ko Timi Tairi (Tioriori) tōku ingoa
I joined the Le Va whānau in September 2020 as a Senior Project Coordinator for LifeKeepers. My role involves supporting the development, delivery and evaluation of our national suicide prevention training programme.
I am a proud father to seven tamariki, and a papi to my mokopuna. I value my role in their lives as I nurture, provide for, and guide them in line with my life experiences. The foundation of tikanga me mātauranga Māori is in my DNA.
I hail from a long line of men in my whānau working predominantly in the roading and civil industry. We are experts in building roads, footpaths, and most foundation works throughout Tāmaki Makaurau. Whilst this vast experience accounts for the physical spaces we live and work; my passion and heart for our people extends far beyond the physical to holistic wellbeing and the preservation of life. My steadfast faith and the skills I have acquired over my life course building strong foundations in the physical space enable me to support whānau and communities to establish and sustain strong foundations for wellbeing too.
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.
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.
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.
09 261 3480
My name is John-Paul Foliaki and I joined Le Va in March earlier this year (2020). I am a New Zealand-born Tongan from the villages of Ma’ufanga and Falevai, Vava’u.
As a New Zealand-born Tongan, I am passionate about empowering Pasifika young people to feel confident as they navigate themselves through life in Aotearoa. As a country with many different cultures and values, it is important for our young people to discover who they are and to be proud of who they are. I also believe that as a young professional and a creative artist I have a responsibility to inspire and encourage our young people to reach their full potential. That is why I am excited to be working for Le Va, an organisation that puts our Pasifika community at the centre of our work.
A core part of my role at Le Va is to support the implementation of Le Va’s Youth Strategy and Action Plan. This means ensuring that Le Va is responsive to the needs of Pasifika young people in a way that is relevant, creative and also effective. I will be using the skills I have acquired as a Law and Arts graduate and the short yet meaningful experience I gained working for a top tier corporate company to be a strong and confident voice for our young people.
Whether this is in the form of contributing to the design and delivery of Le Va’s resources, engaging with stakeholders and young people or even just supporting initiatives across the different teams, I will do so purposefully and with integrity.
Dr Max Maiava
DClinPsy, BSocSc (Hons), BSocSc
09 261 3477
I am Samoan, born in New Zealand and raised in South Auckland. My roots are from Malaemalu, Falealili and Neiafu, Savai’i. My faith, family and culture both ground me and motivate me.
I am a registered clinical psychologist.
I have over 15 years of experience working in the community, social services and the DHB mental health setting. Over the last eight years, I have worked alongside young people and their families, supporting their mental health and wellbeing. In this role, I worked across mainstream and Pasifika teams as a clinical psychologist and clinical team coordinator.
My research background is in parenting, in particular supporting Pasifika parenting.
I have recently had the privilege of joining the wonderful team at Le Va, as Clinical Lead. I continue to be passionate about supporting the mental health and overall wellbeing of Pasifika people, and I am excited to be doing this and more with Le Va.
09 261 3437
I joined the Le Va team in September 2019 as a Training Facilitator. Prior to this, I worked in the health and tertiary sector for 17 years.
I am passionate about our Pasifika people and believe we have it in us all to make positive impacts for our Pasifika communities. In my experience, education has been a key driver in the wellbeing of our communities, as it provides our Fanau with opportunities to be self-reliant and self-sufficient.
In recent years my tertiary experiences extended beyond the shores of academia and into the health sector. Over the past four years, I was working as the Workforce Development programme manager based at the CMDHB, which involved working across the DHBs, universities and polytechnics in Auckland. In my role, I worked alongside Pasifika students, supporting them in their studies and health career journey, as well as helping them discover their “X factor(s)”. The most satisfying aspect of this role was witnessing how their Pasifika values underpinned their motivation to serve the community.
I am Samoan and have ancestors from Tonga and China. My father hails from Faleasiu and Vaimoso, and my mother hails from Eva and Tuana’i. Our Tongan heritage comes from Hapai. I was born and raised in West Auckland, New Zealand. It is a privilege to join Le Va and to take up the role as a Training Facilitator. I bring all my cultures, diversity and values as well as life experiences to this role. I look forward to serving, learning and growing with our Pasifika people here in New Zealand.
Ua gagana a le atunu’u e mamae le tava’e i ona fulu – Precious is our nation like the tava’e to its feathers.
Youth development lead
09 261 3421
As a Training Coordinator within our violence prevention programme Atu-Mai, I am responsible for leading the youth component of the programme. In the six years prior to joining Le Va, I have supported or led youth development initiatives and programmes throughout Aotearoa and abroad. These included the “Southside Rise project 2017-2019” through the Black Friars theatre company, and “WORD – The Front Line through Action Education” and “New Beginnings programme” through Te Whare O Marama at the Women’s Refuge.
I am passionate about learning new methods and modes of storytelling that empower individuals and communities to self-articulate their identity and purpose in the world. I have inherited this passion and my abilities from my two amazing parents, Mau’u Seve Palenapa Alefosio of Mulifanua and Mele Mary Margaret Siaosi of Falefa.
As a mother of two growing teenagers, I am conscious of the need to support youth in the early stages of their development and continuing to journey with them as they grow into the future they aspire to create – one that is safe, supportive and inclusive. I see this line of work as a pathway to social equity and use components such as self-advocacy, collaboration and spoken word poetry to drive engagement with young people – the most precious treasures of Te Moana-Nui-A-Kiwa.
09 261 3438
Ko Anahera tōku ingoa
I feel very fortunate to be part of the whānau at Le Va focussed on preventing suicide in the FLO and LifeKeepers programmes, but also working across teams to empower our Pasifika and Māori communities.
Part of my role will be to co-facilitate the Life Keepers/Mana Akiaki workshops which I’m particularly excited about.
I wholeheartedly believe in the value of traditional Māori and Pasifika cultures, and feel that everyone can benefit from learning more about the ways of our ancestors.
My background is mainly in administration and logistics. I also bring the flair of Performing Arts and Māori culture with me everywhere I go. You’ll very rarely see me without a guitar in hand!
Outside of work you’ll find me with my whānau or at the beach with my husband. We’re keen surfers (I’m still learning!) and huge lovers of nature.
Anae Mark Tuifao
Senior project coordinator
09 261 3451
I bring 12 years of experience in education and training within a variety of sectors, ranging from upskilling staff to supporting staff through organizational change. I recently completed my Bachelor degree in Social Work with a keen drive to further my academic studies focussed on working with our Pasifika people.
Aligning my skill set with my passion to work with our people, has allowed me to be a part of Le Va’s FLO: Pasifika for Life national suicide prevention programme. My main focus is to support Pasifika people and their families to flourish and thrive within our communities.
I was born and raised in South Auckland and attended all of my education within the region. I am of Samoan descent where my father, Aimasi, hails from the villages of Falelatai (Matautu) and Faleasiu. My mother, Laititimalu Failelei, hails from the villages of Sataoa and Lefaga (Savaia). I have been bestowed the titles of Anae from Falelatai and Matualoto from my Mother’s side in Tafagamanu. Cultural identity is a huge part of holistic wellbeing for me – understanding my fa’asi’nomaga (identity) and knowing my gafa (ancestors, pedigree, descent).
The following Samoan proverb, “E sui faiga ae tumau fa’avae” loosely translates as “the form changes but the underlining principles remain the same”. What this means to me is although the implementation of culture, traditions and practices continue to evolve, the principles that guide them will remain the same.
Senior project coordinator
09 261 3444
I joined the Le Va whānau in September 2019 as a Senior Project Coordinator for LifeKeepers. My role involves supporting the development, delivery and evaluation of our national suicide prevention training.
My background is in Psychology, with a MSc in Health Psychology from Massey University. I have spent the past six years working in the areas of women’s health, sexual health, and mental health, both in Aotearoa New Zealand and in the Pacific.
My passion is working to achieve equity and positive health outcomes for all people. I am privileged to work for an organisation like Le Va, whose values align with my own, and to contribute to the important kaupapa of suicide prevention and improving hauora and wellbeing.
My family are NZ Pākeha on my father’s side, and British on my mother’s side. I grew up between Auckland and London before returning to Aotearoa permanently in 2010 to study and be closer to my family.
Aiolupotea Mirofora Mataafa-Komiti
BA (Hons), MA (First Class Hons)
Senior project coordinator
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 two beautiful blessings Doronaiah and Taumafai Komiti. 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.
Dr Elizabeth Mati
Senior manager violence prevention
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, and our two daughters, Isabelle and Hope.
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.
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 that are driven on influencing positive change, who work hard and have a great sense of humour.
BA (Hons), MA (Distinction), GDip Teaching
National training coordinator
09 261 3434
As National Training Co-ordinator, my role is to make sure that the LifeKeepers team have everything they need. I do all I can to support my team, from taking minutes and booking flights, to analysing data and creating resources.
Professionally, I come from an adult education background, and have experience in programme design, resource development, and literacy and numeracy instruction. My work in this field has been primarily with Pacific and Refugee and Migrant communities, and I am passionate about using education as a tool to empower and equip learners.
My academic background is in religious studies, and I love exploring the intersection of religion, culture, and identity, especially through film and literature.
I am Pākehā, and of Irish and Scottish descent. My family come from Belfast on my father’s side, and Glasgow on my mother’s. I’m currently learning to speak Gaeilge (Irish Gaelic) and this has really helped me to connect with my cultural heritage.
PGDipBus, Masters in Health Management (Hons)
Senior manager mental health & addiction
09 261 3435
I joined Le Va in May 2017 and want to develop health services that are innovative, relevant and service user and family/aiga centred.
As a professional manager with more than 15 years in the mental health sector, I have worked in the NGO, Pasifika Mental Health and Addictions, Primary Care and District Adult Mental Health sectors.
I bring to Le Va a comprehensive history as a leader and senior manager in adult district mental health and addiction services, with 10 years’ experience in clinical management roles. I have led mental health strategy transformations within the DHB that include acute service review, referrals management, governance infrastructure implementation, and talking therapies.
I completed a Masters in Health Management and I’m currently completing a PhD part-time, focusing on Pacific mental health leadership in DHB settings.
I am of Samoan descent, born and raised in Auckland. My father is from Upolu, the village of Saleimoa. My mother is from Upolu, the village of Vaiee.
When I am not working at Le Va, I am serving as a part-time soldier with the New Zealand Army, and I am an active vegan.
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 Pacific community as the Regional Pacific advisor, to enhance services and engagement with Pacific offenders, their families and Pacific 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 – 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.
09 261 3485
With an academic background in population and community health, my experience has primarily been in Pacific workforce development and I bring this experience to deliver on Mental Health and Addiction workforce development-related projects at Le Va. Prior to joining Le Va in 2011, I was employed at Taranaki and Counties Manukau DHBs, engaging with schools encouraging Pasifika students uptake science subjects that will lead to a career in health. I also worked closely with Pacific trained nurses through the process of becoming New Zealand registered nurses. I am of Samoan descent from the villages of Satupa’itea and Apolima.
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.
Levaopolo Seupule Tiava’asu’e
In loving memory of our Le Va Matua
The Le Va aiga would like to pay tribute to our beloved Matua Levaopolo Seupule Mupopo Siaosi Tiava’asu’e for his cultural and spiritual knowledge, guardianship, wisdom, protection and safety for LeVa and its people.
Levao Tiava’asu’e worked under the umbrella of the Waitemata District Health Board for almost 15 years and initially joined Isa Lei (Pacific community mental health services) to provide cultural leadership and a sense of unifying a disjointed Pacific sector. He saw positive change at Isa Lei and Tupu (Pacific regional addiction services) and together alongside other Pacific leaders such as Dr Francis Agnew and Pulotu Bruce Levi, Levao helped to shape and influence mental health and addictions sector widely.
He championed the formation of the Matua Council for Waitemata and Auckland District Health Boards and worked hard to ensure that the Pacific workforce grew in capacity and capability.
Levao’s personal vision was to see Pacific peoples succeed in the workforce, with more young Pacific leaders leading the advancement of Pasifika in New Zealand. One of his core beliefs was that only through unity with humility and respect of one another can this be achieved, saddled with his strong stance of “No Corruption.”
Levao believed Le Va and others must also work side by side with tangata whenua, pakeha and other ethnicities with love and compassion.
As a father of five children and 20 grandchildren Levao was also a keen composer and writer of music, in his role of choir master at his church for many years. He often preached on a Sunday morning at his Methodist church in Glen Eden.
His rich contribution was recognised in 2019 with a well-deserved Queen’s Service Medal in honour of his services to health and the Pacific community.