New Zealand's first Pasifika MP, Taito Phillip Field, dies

By Te Ao - Māori News

New Zealand's first Pasifika MP, Taito Phillip Field, has died at the age of 68.

Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern this week acknowledged his breakthrough as the first Pacific MP.

"Everyone will be familiar with the latter part of his political career but ultimately today his family have lost him, and the first Pacific MP in New Zealand. And so I do want to acknowledge that."

Field was born in Apia in Samoa in 1952 and his family moved to New Zealand when he was seven years old. He was educated in Wellington at Tawa College and did further studies at Victoria University.

Much involved in community affairs, he became the focus of Pacific Islanders determined to get one of their own into Parliament. He broke through in 1993 when he was elected the first Pasifika MP as the Labour MP for Mangere, which he represented until  2008.

This week he has been praised for that breakthrough and for his help in bringing other Pasifika to the forefront.

Field was a Labour party member from 1976 to 2007 and was also the Labour party’s first Pacific Island vice-president.

He also held the matai title of Taito from the village of Manase and the title Afisivalu from Saanapu in Samoa.

Field was the Minister of State, Associate Minister of Justice, Pacific Island Affairs Minister and Social Development Minister in Helen Clark’s government.

He also served as a minister outside of Parliament.

Mr Field was convicted in 2007 on bribery, corruption and attempting to obstruct or pervert the course of justice charges and was jailed in 2009 for six years. He was granted parole in 2011.

 Field is survived by his wife Maxine and two children.