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New Year Honours 2023: Pacific champions recognised
Updates / News , 3 Jan 23
The New Year Honours list for 2023 saw a number of Pacific leaders recognised for their contribution to the Pacific and wider New Zealand community. Among the esteemed recipients are two of Etu Pasifika Christchurch's Board Directors and Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) members; Dr Apisalome Talemaitoga (ONZM), for his services to health and the Pacific community, and Father Paulo Filoialii (MNZM), for his services to the Pacific community.

Dr Talemaitoga was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, reflecting the decades of service he has provided in the medical sector both in NZ and the Pacific region.  

Speaking to RNZ about this achievement, Dr Talemaitoga is humbled by the recognition.  

"I see it as a profound privilege, I have this knowledge about health and I find it a real pleasure to do it." 

Dr Talemaitoga is a strong advocate for the next generation of the Pacific health workforce, and is proud to see more Pacific medical students take up the call of service that he did over three decades ago. 

“I can happily retire now that I see this new generation of young people, enthusiastic, bright, diverse and they are the ones that will carry on the load in the future.” 

PMA Chief Executive, Debbie Sorensen, acknowledges and extends her congratulations to Dr Talemaitoga.  

"Dr Api is an exceptional leader in the health sector and we are proud to see his service acknowledged. He has been a pillar of strength to our Pacific community, most recently during the Covid-19 pandemic, and we have all benefited from his support and guidance.  

We are grateful to have him as a Director, as a colleague, and as a friend of the PMA, and we look forward to continuing the journey alongside him." 

Father Paulo Filoialii was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his services to the Pacific community. He was the first Pacific Priest to be ordained in Rome in 1990, and has since dedicated his life to his community in Christchurch and Ashburton – a dedication he also makes with this honour. 

“I want to offer this medal for the Pacific Island people, this is for you, not for me. This medal I will receive is for all of you and I thank you all for your prayers, for your love and your support, God bless you all,” he shared with RNZ.

Sorensen also congratulates Father Paulo and acknowledges his contribution as a Board Director of Etu Pasifika Christchurch.  

"Father Paulo has served the South Island tirelessly for a long time. He knows the community, he walks with them, and he leads with their voices at the forefront, ensuring Etu Pasifika provides the best possible service for our families. 

We are proud to see him recognised, and are privileged to walk with him."  

The PMA acknowledges all the Pacific recipients of this year's New Year Honours, and extends heartfelt congratulations to Mr Sefita 'Alofi Hao'uli (MNZM) who has worked with PMA for many years to serve the Tongan community and Recognised Seasonal Employer (RSE) workers, as well as Dr Jane Elizabeth Skeen (MNZM) who has dedicated her career to improving the conditions for children diagnosed with cancer in New Zealand and the Pacific.

Date: 3 January 2023