2014 Pasifika Leaders Testimonials

Agnes Faga

Agnes Faga
Branch Manager - Onehunga

BEST Leadership has been a challenging and exciting journey. Challenging because I have had to face fears helping me with networking - exciting because I was curious of the outcome and would apply learnings in day to day.

Through this I have assessed where I am as a leader and to work on areas that I can only change to making a positive impact. I was also blessed to have been involved in this particular cohort where I have met some new friends and will be for life.

Our lecturers are amazing, caring, inspiring people who have helped me to believe that we all have a voice- and when using this voice you are delivering a message with confidence and knowledge to empower others.

My biggest takeaway is living your values and being authentic.

Ellerton (Ellie) Lavea

Ellerton (Ellie) Lavea
Team Manager of E Team
(Team Hibiscus)

I was lucky enough to be nominated by my Manager and accepted to attend Best Pasifika Leadership Programme. This programme is run by Best Pasifika Institute of Education, New Zealand’s largest Pasifika focused tertiary provider. This programme is “Committed to Developing The Next Generation of New Zealand Pasifika Leaders”.

This first 12 weeks of the programme has been focused around People Management. Where we are at in our personal Leadership journeys, the good, bad and rawness! We applauded the successes of our team members, provided support and encouragement and lightened the load with humour and love.

It’s been a journey of understanding the importance of our individual uniqueness, the importance of being authentic in our leadership roles, being courageous, a reminder that Leadership is an act to communicate and connect people.

We have also been blessed with opportunities during the “Leadership in Organisations” part of our journey to have a mix of both classroom learning and field visits to sponsored organisations to understand the importance of Leadership change and strategy in high performing organisations. Amazing experience and truly grateful to Best Training, ADHB Middlemore Hospital, Westpac and Skycity.

The Pasifika Mat experience has only just begun! What’s a mat got to do with business……isn’t a mat for sitting on??

Yes, sitting, learning, weaving, discovering, shaping, undoing/redoing, originality, individual, team work, strength, unique, courage... Still weaving and discovering at the moment and loving every minute of it.

I would recommend this programme to any leader of Pasifika descent who is serious about developing their leadership skills in an environment where they blend academia and cultural elements to add value to your capabilities.

Eti Televave

Eti Televave
Senior Physiotherapist / Orthopaedics
Acute Allied Health / Counties Manukau Health

The BEST Pasifika Leadership Programme is an unforgettable blessing. It places you out of your comfort zone, it provides you with new and valuable experiences, and it stretches the mind to its limit. Not only has this programme helped me to realise my purpose, it has most importantly provided me with a new family. I will always be thankful for this experience.

Florence Atimalala

Florence Atimalala
Head of Schools – Tertiary
BEST Pacitic Institute of Education

An excellent leadership programme where you will learn, unlearn and relearn. Brilliant!

Manino Breed

Manino Breed
Assistant Manager Casino Restaurants

It has been great to be a part of the BEST Pacific Leadership Academy. Not only have I got to know a really great group of like-minded managers, we have all been pushed to dream and become the best that we can be.

We have learned to reflect on our values & purpose and covered wide-ranging and interesting new things from training theory to poetry. I now feel much more confident in my role especially when dealing with senior management.

Terree Upoko-George

Margaret Tuala
Charge Nurse Manager-Respiratory Ward 7
Middlemore Hospital, CMDHB

‘Knowing your purpose in life’

People often talk about sponging of knowledge and skills from tutors or educators to learn from but, metaphorically in pasifika meaning so I believe is squeezing the rich coconut cream from the ‘tauga’. The ‘tauga’ as tutors and educators squeezing the richness of their shared experience, knowledge and skills for me to absorb, learn, redefine, reflect , practice and develop personal and professional growth as a leader. This programme enabled me to recognize that I have that leadership traits or qualities within me building my self-confidence up at the same time being aware of my own limitation. ‘Knowing your purpose in life’ helped me being assertive, confidence and honest of who I really am and what my goals/visions are to achieve for the future. Much sincere respect to all the tutors and my cohort colleagues for their ongoing support especially my parents, partner and family for understanding that Wednesday is a long day at work and learning for me. I have crossed paths with you all for a reason to learn from each other and to develop the leader in ourselves. This leadership journey has assisted me in discovering my real purpose in life is ‘NURSING’ the sick and the vulnerable. ‘NURSING’ and infusing a lot of alofas to my daughter, parents, partner, family and friends. Ma lo’u fa’aaloalo, fa’afetai tele lava to CMDHB , To’a Fereti (Clinical Nurse Director) and my Pacific Nurse Leaders also to the BEST Pasifika Leadership programme for investing their time in me. Lastly, like my favorite verse in the book of Psalms 27:1 “The Lord is my light and my salvation, whom shall I fear? The Lord is the stronghold of my life, of whom shall I be afraid?”


Martin Laa
Branch Manager – Glenfield

The journey thus far on the BEST Pasifika Leadership Course has been nothing short of amazing. I have learnt so much already in all legs of the course and I have been able to apply a lot of these learnings into my work environment to some real successes. I have been blessed with an amazing group of fellow Pasifika leaders to journey alongside with! I have learnt so much about myself, my strengths, my capabilities and potential – and above all have uncovered a real hunger to succeed all the way in my career and personal life. I am excited about the journey ahead.

Agnes (Rachel) Hicks-Paeu

Agnes (Rachel) Hicks-Paeu
Stock Controller

My journey thus far has been 1 of growth and exploration, mainly of my inner self both as a leader and follower. I’m amazed by just how much I’ve learnt within such a short time which I’m happy to share with my staff and family.

It hasn’t been easy though; I’ve come across a few road blocks along the way, and have thought of giving up more than once. But I know that I was given this opportunity for a reason and to give up know would be a failure, not just for myself but for the people that believed in me enough to put me through this training. It’s mainly finding the belief in myself that has given me the push that I need to carry on.

I definitely want to see this through to the end, I’m excited (and fearful) of what lies ahead and know that whatever it is will help me grow as a Student, a Strong Pacifica Women and future Pacifica Leader.

Samalaulu (Ann) Smith

Samalaulu (Ann) Smith
Learning Manager

Creating a connection with like-minded Pasifika leaders has been the highlight for me thus far. I’ve enjoyed the discussions on various topics around leadership, with a Pasifika lens. It’s not your typical ‘leadership’ programme in that sense.

It’s been a wonderful journey the past 10 months and I am excited to be moving into the mentor phase soon.

Sione Fanga Taufa

Sione Fanga Taufa
Tutor / Lecturer
Pacific Success Coordinator
The University of Auckland

Being on this program has helped develop me as a person. I am more confident in the way I approach things, I am more open to change and embracing changes in my journey. I have also been exposed to ways great leaders deal with difficult situations and how I can adapt my own style of leadership to suit the situation. I have learned how to harness the strengths and gifts I have as a leader and work on improving my areas of weakness. I love the insights we have been exposed to at the various site visits and seeing how the theory matches the practicality of leadership in action. My fellow leaders in the cohort has also been a strength of the program; being able to learn off the experiences and skills each bring to the table. I came on this journey to be a better leader, while that is still a work in progress; I have learned how to be a better communicator, husband, father but most importantly a better person.

Steve Roberston

Steve Roberston
Store Manager - Clendon
The Warehouse

I am so truly fortunate and blessed to be selected by my business to be part of the BEST Training Cohort for 2015. I have thoroughly enjoyed every session from the start until now and have no regrets at all about this experience.

The key highlights for me so far are:

  • Being exposed to an amazing network of Pasifika Cohort peers, who face similar Leadership Management challenges to myself
  • A free carpark and Dinner provided means that after a long day at work I am well setup for a night of learning
  • The Teachers - Roseanne Gedye, Dr Brigid Carroll and Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh are just so giving of their knowledge and truly passionate about seeing ‘Browner faces and Higher places’
  • The course content is of a high standard and I have learnt many great tips to become a stronger Leader Manager. In particular, learning to ‘flex up’ in my social style as an ‘Amiable’ to my boss’s ‘Driver’ style has helped our relationship and communication.
  • I loved the exposure to other Cohort member work sites and learned a lot about Change, Executive structure and Business Culture
  • I have also learned from the course to revive my passion for my Pasifika identity and embrace this aspect of my leadership uniqueness.
  • Lastly, the learnings on this course are not only applicable to my career but also to my general life awareness.

I look forward to the mentoring semester and applying my new found leadership skills. I would recommend this programme to other Pasifika Leaders who have high hopes to achieve.

Teina Teariki Mana

Teina Teariki Mana
Business Risk Manager

I feel absolutely blessed to be given this opportunity to represent Vector and my family. I am honored to be sharing this experience with emerging Pasifika leaders with relatable challenges, dreams and enjoying every day as it is a gift.

I have learnt to challenge status quo, to find my voice, find courage, create an emotional bond and trust with my cohort that I feel safe to be me, the support we have given each other is testament that no one is left behind and we all move together to succeed.

This experience has taught me to be proud of my heritage, know who I am, and where I want to go as Dr Selina Tusitala Marsh says “my turangawaewae where my feet stand and to be grounded as a leader” is something that resonates with me.

Thank you Rosanne Gedye for helping me find my courage which came early on when we had to speak in front of the class, find our voice without the ‘um’s’ and present with conviction and realness.

Thank you Dr Brigid Carroll for the opportunity to meet great leaders, the experience was valuable for me, it allowed me to question what leadership, strategy, culture and change looks like within different organizations, and listen to management, executives, and CEO’s share their experiences.

Thank you to Selina Tusitala Marsh for the fuel we needed to reignite the embers of culture within our soul.

Thank you to my husband and mum for taking care of our family while I am at class every Wednesday night, thank you to an amazing organization Vector for supporting me through this journey and allowing me to be creative in so many ways, thank you to BEST for connecting me with people throughout this experience, and thank you to my beautiful cohort for sharing the high and lows, tears and happiness, loads of laughter you have left a legacy in my heart, my forever friends.

Terree Upoko-George

Terree Upoko-George
International Business Player Accounts Coordinator

The BEST Pasifika Leadership Programme has empowered me with great learning’s and tools to assist me in my role as a Manager/Leader of SKYCITY, as a mother, as a wife and as a supporter of our local community.

There were definitely some challenging moments during the programme but with the great network support of the Leadership Team (CEO, Tutors – Great Leaders, Marketing and Communications Manager), Cohort and family, I am able to continue on this learning journey.

The programme has enabled me to step out of my comfort zone and apply for another position within the business. It was my CEO – Nigel Morrison that fascinated me with his knowledge and commitment to the business and that if I wanted to know more about the company I work for, I needed to move into other areas and find new challenges.