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Pacific recipients awarded New Year honours

04 May 2018

Posted in: Pacific Radio News,

A number of Pacific people were recognised for their contribution to the country this week as they were made members of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Former All Black Bryan William was knighted for his services to rugby.

Sir Bryan Williams played for the All Blacks from 1970 to 1978, played provincial rugby for Auckland and club rugby for Ponsonby, and coached the Samoan national team in the 1990s.

He was appointed President of New Zealand Rugby Union from 2011 to 2013 and oversaw the 2011 Rugby World Cup. 

La'auli Sir Michael Jones says Sir Bryan Williams was one of the first role models to emerge out of the first wave of Pacific migrants.

"I'm absolutely thrilled for Sir BG. He was my boy hero," he says. "He's a Kiwi-Samoan growing up in West Auckland and having aspirations to play for the All Blacks."

"He was, for me, the first real Pacific Island super hero. He inspired a whole generation."

Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy and Sir Bryan Williams. Photo/ Supplied.

Sir Bryan Williams is also a Commander of the NZ Order of Merit and a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire for services to rugby.

Valeti Finau, was made an Honorary Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to education and the Pacific community.

She's the founder and director of Laulotaha, a mentoring programme helping Pacific students achieve success in education in Wellington and Auckland since 2011. 

Valeti Finau at her investiture. Photo/ Supplied.

Since 1986, she's promoted tertiary studies to Pacific communities, including supporting many students from Tonga in her own home while she completed their studies.

She also set up the Tupou Tertiary Institute in Tonga to teach full-time New Zealand accredited programmes.

Speaking to Le'o 'o e 'Otu Felenite this week, Mrs Finau says the success of her work would not have been possible without the help of her community.

Petrina Togi-Sa'ena, member of the Pacific Music Awards Trust, was made a Member of the Order for her services to Pacific music.

She's been in the music industry since 1994 and has been an event producer for the past 10 years.

Dame Patsy Reddy and Petrina Togi-Sa'ena. Photo/ Supplied.

She says the recognition is overwhelming and it's been rewarding seeing the Pacific music industry grow.

"I just enjoy helping other people achieve their goals... and just being around in the long-term basis to see the development of people's careers and what they've achieved in that time."

Radio 531pi's Kiribati language producer Charles Enoka was also made an Honorary Member of the Order of merit for his services to the Pacific community.

He's a founding member of the NZ Kiribati National Council and was involved in the establishment of other Kiribati groups including the Waitakere Kiribati Community in 2005.

He was also a founding member and later director and administrator of the Pasifika Migrant Services Charitable Trust, which focuses on settling and assisting newcomers from small Pacific Islands.

Charles Enoka (left). Photo/ Radio 531pi.