31 Dec 2008

12 Pacific people recognised in New Zealand's New Year's Honours

11:32 am on 31 December 2008

Twelve Pacific people have been recognised in New Zealand's New Year's Honours.

The world and Olympic champion shot putter Valerie Vili takes the highest honours, receiving the Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.

Ms Vili, who is holidaying in New Caledonia, says being on the list was unexpected but to be recognised is a huge honour.

Tokelau-born Amosa Faafoi, a lecturer in multicultural studies at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch, says he's honoured to be recognised.

Mr Faafoi received the Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his contribution to the Pacific community in particular education.

He says while it's an honour to accept the award he does so on behalf of other Pacific people.

"Who also did as much as I have, and some of them have done a lot more but they past away and never got the recognition that I think they also deserved as well."

And Dr Diane Mara says receiving the Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit or MNZM is a positive for all Pacific women.

Fifty seven year old Dr Mara who is part Tahitian, has contributed to teacher education and educational research for over 35 years, and was part of the New Zealand government delegation to the United Nations Convention on the Elimination of All Forms of Discrimination Against Women.

Dr Mara says the honour is a great acknowledgment for Pacific women.

Pacific women up and down the country contribute positively to their families, and communities and churches and I kinda see this as an acknowledgment of Pacific women I've worked with over the years and also PACIFICA I've been active in that for over 30 years.

Other recipients of the MNZM were Teosulu Maea Brown.

Another the Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit caps off an exciting year, for Samoan sculptor John Reuelu Penisula.

Mr Penisula is one of four people to receive the MNZM, with eight others receiving the Queens Service Medal, and the highest honour for the Pacific people the Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit going to world and Olympic champion shot putter Valerie Vili.

Mr Penisula says he is honoured but lost for words.

I'm humbled and run out of what to say about this you know it's something I never expected I always do the job I have to do and looking back to my career I believe I was doing something good for our people.

Malia Toa Filimoe'unga Hamani has accepted her Queen's Service Medal on behalf of the people she works with.

Malia Toa was recognised for her work in particular with the elderly in this years New Zealand Honours.

She has contributed to the Pacific and senior citizens community in Auckland for many years.

Malia Toa says has credited her colleagues for her nomination.

I'm awfully happy for the people that I'm very committed to work with and for, and those are older people there all the family careers and I've got a very special passion for early childhood age group also.

Malia Toa was one of eight recipients of the QSM.

Another Cook Islands Taime Pareanga Samuel from Hastings says receiving her QSM was unexpected.

Mrs Samuel who received the award for her contribution to the Pacific community in Hastings says it was good to see Pacific women being acknowledged for their contributions.

Women are very strong in making their mark in all different areas in business and community, and work wise, and women are developing their skills.

And Anna Marshall a recipient of the Queens Service Medal says she received the letter from the Governor General on the same date she arrived from Samoa 50 years ago the 18th of December 1958.

Mrs Marshall who lives and works in Whangarei has been involved with the small Pacific community there for the past 45 years.

And emotional Mrs Marshall says she's humbled that someone took the time to put her name forward.

And really in tears when I got the letter from the governor general to say that I've been accepted it's fantastic but also as I said really humble and that other people more more worthy I think you know for this honour, but greatly appreciated.

Anna Marshall.