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New Years Honours 2022: Faumuina Professor Fa’afetai Sopoaga (CNZM)
Updates / News , 12 Jan 22
The New Year’s Honours list for 2022 saw a number of Pacific leaders recognised for their contribution to the Pacific and wider NZ community. Leading the list for Pacific recipients was Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) member Faumuina Professor Fa’afetai Sopoaga (CNZM), who was made a Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for her services to Pacific health and tertiary education.

Faumuina has always been a trailblazer, leading from the front and encouraging others to reach or surpass the standards that she has set. She was the first Pacific female medical doctor in Australasia to become a professor and was the Associate Dean (Pacific) for Health Sciences at the University of Otago from 2009 to 2020.  

Her advocacy for Pacific leadership in the academic space has seen the addition of seven Pacific Associate Dean roles at the University of Otago. 

As the Director of Va’a o Tautai Centre for Pacific Health, Faumuina played a key role in leading the mobilisation of doctors and volunteers to support relief efforts for the measles epidemic in Samoa during 2019 and 2020. 

Faumuina says it is an honour to be recognised in the New Year’s Honours list and acknowledges her parents and upbringing for her success.

“This is simply a reflection of my parents, Reverend Nomeneta and Lili Sopoaga. My mother is from Fagaloa, Fasito’otai and Apia. My father is from Salua Manono and Lotofaga. I grew up in a small village, Alamagoto, just outside Apia, where my parents served as church ministers. 

At Alamagoto, I was continually being corrected growing up by the elders in the village, affirmed and nurtured in our Samoan cultural ways. This has held me in good stead when I travelled to New Zealand for further education. 

I am deeply indebted to my beloved parents, family and the EFKS Alamagoto church, and humbly acknowledge their investment in my life’s journey.”

Faumuina says the recognition also represents the work and efforts of her colleagues.

“It is an acknowledgement of many wonderful and outstanding colleagues I work alongside to improve the health and education outcomes for Pacific peoples in Aotearoa.”

PMA CEO, Debbie Sorensen, acknowledges and extends her congratulations to Faumuina.

“Faumuina’s leadership over the last 25 years has been extraordinary and her honour is well deserved. She has led the way in being the exemplar for academic leadership and has supported and nurtured many Pacific students who have now become successful health professionals.

We have been privileged to walk with her, to have her as a colleague, a friend and a leader for PMA. We are so pleased to see her years of work acknowledged and it honours all of us.”


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Date: 12 January 2022