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.
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 3425
Fakaalofa lahi atu. My name is Barney Wikitera and I joined the Le Va team in September 2019 as a Training Coordinator leading the parenting component of the Atu-Mai programme. I studied at the University of Auckland, graduating with a Bachelor of Arts and a Master of Planning.
Before joining Le Va, I worked in mentoring and educational roles in the justice sector. One of these roles was in the Te Ira team at Turuki Healthcare supporting young people through the Youth and District Court. I have also previously worked with Community Law Wellington which involved educating young people about laws relevant to them, and as a live-in supervisor in Salvation Army’s transitional home for boys.
My father is from the Island of Niue and the villages of Alofi and Hikutavake, and my mother is Māori from Te Rarawa in the far North. I pay due respects to both my grandmothers who had a significant impact on me and ensured I was grounded in both cultures, Alaina Sifamitaki Fakaotimanava-Lui and Riperata Te Whiu Wikitera.
Born and raised in West Auckland, I reside there with my wife Lise (nee Malaeimi) and my daughter Wairere Sepetema Leneta.
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.
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.
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.
BHSc (Hons), MA Public Health
Information analyst & research
09 261 3422
My name is Nalei Taufa and I am a researcher at Le Va, working primarily in the violence prevention team.
I am extremely passionate about praxis research as a conduit to improve the significant health inequities that Pasifika experience in Aotearoa.
I come from a large Tongan family of 12 and grew up in a traditional Pasifika family. My parents instilled in us the value of love, God and the gospel, family, servitude and education.
I have been researching or in research roles for 8 years, and have a strong interest in qualitative methodologies (particularly working with youth and women), whereby the voices, rich narratives, perspectives and experiences of Pasifika are explored and represented accurately in literature.
Most recently, I worked as a researcher with the Auckland Regional Public Health Service. My role included reviewing ED data-sets that indicated alcohol-related harm for policy changes. My main work was in the early childhood team, where I worked alongside tertiary providers to embed public health cornerstones of physical activity, prevention of communicable illness and nutrition into curriculum of training kaioko that would serve the tamariki of Tamaki Makaurau.
During my time as a researcher and health promoter, I have worked with the Ministry of Health, the National Institute of Health and Innovation, the Heart Foundation, New Zealand Gynaecological Foundation, Health Research Council, Workforce and Development, ViDa study, Malatest International and Pacific Department at the School of Population Health.
Recently, I was a research assistant for a Health Research Council-funded post-doctorate led by Dr Tamasin Taylor, exploring Pasifika attrition rates for the bariatric surgery program.
In future, I strive to complete a Doctor of Clinical Psychology and merge learning in this programme with my pastoral care background, to ultimately serve Pasifika peoples. It is widely known that there is a significant underrepresentation of Pasifika in mental health, clinical psychology and in health in general; thus – I can see myself serving in this space of need throughout my career and ministry.
09 261 3418
The majority of my work is within the Pasifika for Life (FLO) suicide prevention team, ensuring our projects go smoothly while bringing a youth perspective to the table.
Working with Le Va has given me some insight into the struggles facing our Māori and Pasifika communities. This experience allows me to transfer what I’ve learnt back into my studies and continues to fuel my desire to improve the quality of life for my people.
My whānau, partner and friends keep me grounded, providing me with the support and encouragement I need to reach each milestone. I am both my mum’s youngest child and my dad’s oldest, so I draw strength from my relationships with my siblings and the role that I play within our whānau.
I come from a long line of strong, independent and successful women who have pushed me to dream big and strive for excellence – moulding me into the young woman I am today.
Nei rā te mihi ki a koutou katoa mō tōu aroha me tōu āwhina mai ki ahau.
Senior project coordinator
09 261 3426
Malo le soifua maua ma le lagi mama
I joined Le Va in May 2018 as a senior project coordinator with Le Va’s Pasifika for Life (FLO) suicide prevention programme.
My role is to support and deliver culturally appropriate initiatives to and for Pasifika communities. Overall, my role strengthens relationships, and inspires our communities to reach their full potential.
I have over 25 years’ work experience in many different areas, including trade certificate qualifications in commercial printing and carpentry, 10 years’ experience with youth justice community probation roles with the Queensland state government, as well as roles in not-for-profit community-based youth organisations in Brisbane and for the Department of Corrections/Serco in New Zealand.
My work in the justice sector included assessments and treatment for young male offenders, delivering rehabilitation programmes to adult males dealing with complex behavioural needs, along with alcohol-related and serious sexual offenders.
I was proudly born in Hastings in the Ngati Kahungunu region, raised in Tamaki Makaurau and spent most of my adult life in Yuggera country in Brisbane, Australia. My Samoan connections are to the villages of Saina, Fasito’o Uta, Letogo and Vailoa Faleata.
I am blessed and privileged to be a father of two sons and three daughters, and a grandfather to three beautiful grandchildren.
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 am humbled to be chief executive of Le Va.
I am responsible for providing clinical leadership direction and oversight across Le Va’s programmes, and also lead a small team within Le Va delivering New Zealand’s first national Pasifika suicide prevention programme – FLO: Pasifika for Life which is funded by the Ministry of Health.
I graduated with a Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology from Massey University (Palmerston North) and am privileged to have served the community in my extensive career as a clinical psychologist and in service roles within the health sector (most recently leading the establishment of Pasifika services as MidCentral DHB Pacific Portfolio Manager for Funding and Planning).
I have been published in several journals and have provided clinical and cultural advice on numerous projects and advisory groups nationwide. In my career as a psychologist I have worked in New Zealand prisons, mental health services (Adult, Child and Family) and Māori mental health in New Zealand and Australia. Finally, I currently chair Pasifikology, which is a national network of Pasifika psychologists in NZ.