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.

Denise Kingi-‘Ulu’ave - Chief executive

Denise Kingi-‘Ulu’ave

MA (Hons), PGDipClinPsych

Chief executive

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 - General manager

Dr Elizabeth Mati

DClinPsy, BA/BCom

General manager

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.

E lē falala fua le niu, ‘ae falala ona o le matagi.
The coconut tree doesn’t sway on its own, but is swayed by the wind.

Ben Tameifuna

Senior manager - Disability & public health
Meet Ben

Ben Tameifuna - Senior manager - Disability & public health

Ben Tameifuna

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.

Oua lau e kafo kae lau e lava – Stay positive and count your blessings.

Leilani Fina’i Clarke

Senior manager suicide prevention - Pacific
Meet Leilani Fina’i

Leilani Fina’i Clarke - Senior manager suicide prevention - Pacific

Leilani Fina’i Clarke

Senior manager suicide prevention - Pacific

09 261 3423

Talofa lava,

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.

So’o le fau i le fau – Unity is strength.

Tiana Watkins

Senior manager suicide prevention - LifeKeepers
Meet Tiana

Tiana Watkins - Senior manager suicide prevention - LifeKeepers

Tiana Watkins

Senior manager suicide prevention - LifeKeepers

09 301 3734

Tēnā koe,

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.

Mark Esekielu

Senior manager – Mental health and addiction
Meet Mark

Mark Esekielu - Senior manager – Mental health and addiction

Mark Esekielu

Senior manager – Mental health and addiction

09 301 9629

Talofa lava,

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.

O le ala ile pule o le tautua – The pathway to leadership is through service.

Paul Tupou-Vea

Senior manager - Violence prevention
Meet Paul

Paul Tupou-Vea - Senior manager - Violence prevention

Paul Tupou-Vea

MAPP, BA/BBus, GDip Tch., PGCert. Soc.Sci.

Senior manager - Violence prevention

021 0220 1118

Ko Tongatapu te motu, Ko Te Moana Nui a Kiwa te moana, He Tangata Tiriti ahau.

I’m a proud Aotearoa-born son to amazing Tongan parents – mother (Ha’ateiho, Pea) and father (Kolomotu’a) from Tongatapu. My work, mainly in Tāmaki Makaurau over the last 20 years, has always had a social good focus, spanning youth development, education, wellbeing consulting and now violence prevention with Le Va.

I’ve been fortunate to work with some amazing teams and organisations across Aotearoa and Australia. More recently I have worked between education institutions (primary to tertiary) and local council. I have maintained involvement in the not-for-profit community sector as a board member with the Graeme Dingle Foundation and was recently the president of the New Zealand Association of Positive Psychology.

My talented educationalist wife and three sons keep me paddling on the windless days.

“If one knows not to which port they sail, no wind is favourable.” ― Seneca

Kirsten Brown

Communications and engagement manager
Meet Kirsten

Kirsten Brown - Communications and engagement manager

Kirsten Brown

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.

Ahakoa he iti, he pounamu - Although it is small, it is a treasure.

Sean Tuiloma

Office manager & Executive assistant
Meet Sean

Sean Tuiloma - Office manager & Executive assistant

Sean Tuiloma

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.

A man who moves mountains starts by carrying small stones - Chinese Proverb.

Luseane Valu

Operations support manager
Meet Luseane

Luseane Valu - Operations support manager

Luseane Valu


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.

Isabelle Mati - Administrator

Isabelle Mati


Talofa lava, my name is Isabelle Mati.

I am a New Zealand-born Samoan European. I am also an eldest daughter and proud sibling to my younger brother and sister.

Since joining Le Va I have had the privilege of serving and learning from an array of distinguished leaders in the mental health and wellbeing space for Pasifika communities.

I am deeply committed to giving back to my community and am fortunate to fulfil this within a Pasifika-led organisation.

In the future, I hope to enact meaningful changes within my community, through the field of psychology.

I am dedicated to living out my core values and maintaining strong, supportive relationships throughout my professional journey.

Max Tuipulotu

Senior project coordinator
Meet Max

Max Tuipulotu - Senior project coordinator

Max Tuipulotu

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.

Koe nima ke ngaue, tokoni pea foaki – Your hands are made to work, help and serve.

Taryn Hainsworth-Fa'aofo - Project coordinator

Taryn Hainsworth-Fa'aofo

Project coordinator

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.

Aysia Paeu-Vaafusuaga

Senior project coordinator
Meet Aysia

Aysia  Paeu-Vaafusuaga  - Senior project coordinator

Aysia Paeu-Vaafusuaga

BA (Psychology)

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.

E lele a le toloa ae maau I le vai - A toloa will fly away but will always return to where the water is.

Heather Hammond

Project manager
Meet Heather

Heather Hammond - Project manager

Heather Hammond

Project manager

Tēnā koe,

My journey began in the rural community of Whakatau, nestled on the beautiful Heretaunga Plains of Te Matau-a-Māui. I whakapapa to Ngāti Tūwharetoa.

I am the Project Manager for New Zealand’s national suicide prevention programmes, LifeKeepers and Mana Akiaki – LifeKeepers for Māori.

My professional background is in Project, Change and Operations Management, where I have developed a versatile skill set over the past 15 years. My approach is characterised by a relentless focus on customer satisfaction, coupled with a commitment to delivering high-quality outcomes that drive tangible results. As a leader of peak-performing teams, I have cultivated environments where innovation thrives, and transformative change takes root.

I excel in navigating the complexities of diverse industries, leveraging my strategic vision to conceptualise and execute initiatives from inception to completion. Adaptable and resilient, I thrive in environments where priorities evolve and challenges abound.

My work is grounded in integrity, empathy and a deep-seated commitment to fostering collaboration and inclusivity.

My university background is in Commerce, and I am a qualified PRINCE2 Practitioner.

Tamara Lawson

Senior project coordinator
Meet Tamara

Tamara Lawson - Senior project coordinator

Tamara Lawson

Senior project coordinator

I am the LifeKeepers suicide prevention senior project coordinator at Le Va.

I bring more than 13 years’ experience working across the health and social services sectors.

I hail from Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa from Ngāti Kuri, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, Tahiti and islands within the Tuamotu and Tuha’a Pae achipalego.

Sophina Vilisoni-Heather - Project coordinator

Sophina Vilisoni-Heather

Project coordinator

I am the LifeKeepers project coordinator and provide administrative support for our national suicide prevention programme.

In my previous roles I have supported hapū māmā and coached taiohi (youth).

I hail from the Cook Islands and Niue.

Nicholas Cao - Clinical lead

Nicholas Cao

Clinical lead

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.

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not on your own understanding. 1 Corinthians 10:13

Sonia Pope

Project manager
Meet Sonia

Sonia Pope - Project manager

Sonia Pope

Project manager

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.

‘Oku tau si’i pe kae ha, he oku ikai ha to’a ‘e tu’u tokotaha - We are a small island but we are still great because no warrior stands alone.

Ella Fitu-Mau

Senior project coordinator
Meet Ella

Ella Fitu-Mau - Senior project coordinator

Ella Fitu-Mau

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.

For I know the plans I have for you declares the Lord, plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future. Jeremiah 29:11

Phillip Keleti

Senior project coordinator
Meet Phillip

Phillip Keleti - Senior project coordinator

Phillip Keleti

Senior project coordinator

Malo lava le soifua manuia ma le lagi e mama.

My name is Phillip Keleti, I am Samoan, born and raised in New Zealand, from the villages of Laulii in Upolu and Salelologa in Savai’i.

I joined Le Va in June 2024 and I am passionate and excited about serving our Pasifika communities in suicide prevention with our FLO: Pasifika for Life team.

My background is in project and change management, delivering ICT projects for the past 15 years, but most of my career has been in health in both Auckland in community development and more recently supporting the implementation of digital hospitals in Queensland where I lived for 12 years.

Outside of work, I am a deacon at Grey Lynn EFKS, and I currently serve as one of many faipese and conductors in our church.

A e tu, Tu Faaaloalo, a e savali, tautua ma le alofa, a e tautala, saunoa ma le loto maualalo - When you stand, stand for respect, when you walk, serve in love and when you talk, speak with humility.

Jasmine Leota

Senior project coordinator
Meet Jasmine

Jasmine Leota - Senior project coordinator

Jasmine Leota

Senior project coordinator

Bio coming soon!

Angel Tiatia-Siau

Senior project coordinator
Meet Angel

Angel Tiatia-Siau - Senior project coordinator

Angel Tiatia-Siau

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.

Tautua nei mo se manuia taeao – Serve now for a better tomorrow

Jim Stretton

Senior project coordinator
Meet Jim

Jim Stretton - Senior project coordinator

Jim Stretton

Senior project coordinator

09 301 9620

Talofa lava

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.

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. John 15:12

Natasha Pati

Senior project coordinator
Meet Natasha

Natasha Pati - Senior project coordinator

Natasha Pati

Senior project coordinator

Bio coming soon!

Trent Faliu

Project coordinator
Meet Trent

Trent Faliu - Project coordinator

Trent Faliu

Project coordinator

Bio coming soon!

John Apelu Crouch

Project coordinator
Meet John Apelu

John Apelu Crouch - Project coordinator

John Apelu Crouch

Project coordinator

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.


Melanie Goodwright

Project coordinator
Meet Melanie

Melanie Goodwright - Project coordinator

Melanie Goodwright

Project coordinator

Kia orana, I am Mel. I’m an Aotearoa born Aitutakian/European, proudly raised in Kirikiriroa Hamilton, Waikato.

I am an alumna of the University of Auckland and Auckland University of Technology and for the past five years, I have been dedicated to advancing Māori and Pacific health.

Through collaborative initiatives across Aotearoa and the South Pacific, my focus is on enhancing environments through education, legislative reform, and community mobilisation to support sustainable and holistic wellbeing.

My beautiful children are my biggest drivers and enablers.

When you know better, you do better - Maya Angelou

Taitu'uga Mirofora Mataafa-Komiti - Primary prevention manager

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.

O le tama a le manu e fafaga I fuga o laau, ae o le tama o le tagata e fafaga I upu ma tala.
The young of an animal is fed with fruits of the tree, but the son of man is fed with words and stories.

Sara Vui-Talitu

Communications and engagement manager - Violence prevention
Meet Sara

Sara Vui-Talitu - Communications and engagement manager - Violence prevention

Sara Vui-Talitu

Communications and engagement manager - Violence prevention

09 261 3448

Kia ora and malo le soifua maua ma le lagi e mama.

I joined Le Va after working in corporate communications and media.

As an adept storyteller, I am of the mindset that if we don’t tell our own Pacific stories the way we want to tell them, no one else will.

So, I’ve always been drawn to share and tell important stories on issues facing Pasifika, indigenous and migrant communities both here and abroad.

I majored in English with a Bachelor of Arts and went on to do a Master of Arts and a Masters of Creative Writing.

Given there were so few Pasifika people working in newsrooms at that time, I did more study and graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Journalism.

Since then, I have travelled the world and worked for various media organisations including Radio New Zealand, RNZ Pacific, Fiji TV, TVNZ, Suburban Newspapers, 531PI radio and the Pacific Media Network.

Tired of the shift work, I then switched to being a university lecturer and worked as a senior communications advisor before joining Le Va in 2023.

Growing up in Tāmaki Makaurau, my Samoan parents demonstrated the value of sacrifice and service to family and community but these days, my husband keeps it real for me every day.

It is a privilege to support Le Va’s work towards violence prevention and helping families and communities unleash their full potential and reach for the stars.

Tautua nei mo se taeao manuia. Serve now for a better tomorrow.

Hidoria Onesemo-Tuilaepa

Learning and evaluation lead
Meet Hidoria

Hidoria  Onesemo-Tuilaepa - Learning and evaluation lead

Hidoria Onesemo-Tuilaepa

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.

Charles Lavea

Community engagement lead
Meet Charles

Charles  Lavea - Community engagement lead

Charles Lavea

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.

Malo lava.

My grace is sufficient for thee, for my power is made perfect in weakness. 2 Corinthians 12.

Taeao Napo

Community engagement lead
Meet Taeao

Taeao  Napo - Community engagement lead

Taeao Napo

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.

Reverend Uesifili Unasa - Le Va Matua

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.

Covid-19 Update

Face-to-face workshops will not continue while New Zealand is at Level 4. We will be in contact with all participants soon.