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 3404
Karl is 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, Karl is a proud dad of three adult children along with the joys of his life – his five gorgeous mokopuna!
Karl comes to Le Va with broad experiences in both the commercial and community sectors as a former business owner and as a community and youth pastor.
Karl is passionate about raising the profile of indigenous wellbeing models and is looking forward to contributing to the notions of kaitiakitanga evidenced in the LifeKeepers whānau and mahi.
BA, BSc(Hons), MSc
09 261 3465
I was born in London and grew up in Zambia before making New Zealand my home. I’ve spent the last seven years working in various roles across the disability sector, mental health, and addiction fields while completing my university studies. I have recently completed my Masters in Psychology with my research focused on parental depression and family cohesion.
I’m so excited to be part of the LifeKeepers team as I am incredibly passionate about suicide prevention.
I remember undertaking the LifeKeepers e-Learning training back in 2019 and really enjoyed it. I have learned and used a lot of useful skills this e-Learning platform provides.
I am incredibly grateful to have been given the opportunity to work for Le Va and share in the LifeKeepers Kaupapa, four years later! I look forward to coordinating the LifeKeepers programme, creating communities of C.A.R.E.
In my free time, I volunteer in the community, watch Grey’s Anatomy re-runs or you can find me exercising self-care by climbing a mountain somewhere!
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.
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.
09 300 6765
Talofa lava, my name is Pela Hokai.
I am a first-generation, New Zealand-born Samoan where my father hails from the Fasavalu aiga from Falelatai, and my mother from the Vaisagote and Mailata aiga from Manono Tai. I am married to Anthony Hokai who is from Te Rarawa and Ngāpuhi.
I completed my tertiary studies at AUT University and the University of Auckland.
I am a Registered Occupational Therapist and a Cognitive Behavioural Therapist.
Prior to joining the Le Va team, I worked in both Pasifika and mainstream teams for Counties Manukau District Health Board, Child & Adolescent Mental Health for six years. My roles as Occupational Therapist and Clinical Coordinator entailed supporting young people and their families with their mental health and wellbeing.
I have a strong passion for Pasifika communities and mental health. My faith and my family are what motivate me in all that I do.
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.
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.
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
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.
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 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.
Project manager - Youth
09 261 3421
It is always a privilege to serve your community in a way that aligns with who you are and who you want to be. My experience prior to Le Va has been an adventure of many sorts from facilitating spoken word workshops within church groups, large youth conferences and rehabilitation programmes to coordinating large-scale events for school principals and a corporate workforce. Every experience has led me here to Le Va – to the space and I am grateful for it.
Whenever I introduce myself I like to make it clear that I am firstly, the Daughter of Mau’u Seve Palenapa Alefosio from the villages of Mulifanua and Leauva’a and Mele Mary Margaret Siaosi from the villages of Falefa and Faleasi’u in Samoa. And then that I am the Mother of two amazing teenagers who keep me motivated and grounded. Lastly, I am a Poet and I see the benefits of the arts and creativity as it relates to youth development and as a source of nourishment for humanity.
I am a woman of faith and try my best to be teachable in every environment and embrace every season.
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.
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
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, 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.
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.
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 - 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.
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.