Pacific women shine in Queen’s Birthday Honours list

By Leo Horgan

Esteemed Pacific women working in the arts, politics, sport and the community have been recognised today in a Queen’s Birthday Honours list dominated by wāhine for the first time ever.

Minister for Pacific Peoples Aupito William Sio has congratulated the recipients and paid tribute to their hard work and selflessness.

“The recipients have made a significant contribution, whether at a community or national level, and have worked tirelessly within the Pacific community to make a lasting difference,” says Sio.

“Congratulations to all the Pacific recipients who have been honoured for their contribution to sports, politics, education, business, religion and the arts and who continue to be role models and inspire the next generation.” 

Luamanuvao Winnie Laban

“Among those recognised is the Honourable Luamanuvao Winnie Laban who has been appointed a Dame Companion of The New Zealand Order of Merit for her services to education and the Pacific community.

“Luamanuvao Dame Winne Laban has always been a trailblazer - being New Zealand's first Pacific Island woman MP and first woman Minister of Pacific Island Affairs.  As Assistant Vice-Chancellor (Pasifika) of Victoria University of Wellington she continues to advance Pacific achievement along with a number of Pacific organisations she advocates for.

Fiao’o Faamausili

“Fiao’o Faamausili, captain of the Black Ferns since 2012, has received an ONZM for her significant contribution to rugby. Fiao’o is the most capped Black Fern at 52 caps," says Sio.

Nina Catherine Nawalowalo

“Nina Catherine Nawalowalo has also received an ONZM for her tremendous work in Pacific culture in creating Pasifika-themed theatre productions for more than 20 years."

Reverend Setaita Tokilupe Veikune

“Reverend Setaita Tokilupe Veikune has received an MNZM for her valuable leadership contribution to the Pacific church community. She became the first Pacific woman to be appointed President Elect of the Methodist Church of New Zealand in 2017."

Caren Rangi

“Caren Rangi receives an ONZM for her services to the Cook Islands community and encouraging Pacific women in leadership roles, while Jackie Clark, of Samoan  heritage, receives an MNZM for her extensive contribution to the entertainment industry and championing worthy causes for women’s health," says Sio.

The recipients are:


  • The Honourable Luamanuvao Winnie Laban, QSO, for services to education and
  • the Pacific community


  •  Ms Fiao’o Faamausili, for services to rugby
  •  Ms Nina Catherine Nawalowalo, for services to theatre and Pacific culture
  •  Ms Caren Jane Rangi, for services to the Pacific community and governance


  •  Ms Jacqueline Emma Clarke, for services to the entertainment industry
  •  Mr Darryl Bill Suasua, for services to rugby
  •  Mr Saimoni Lealea, for services to Pacific communities
  •  Reverend Setaita Tokilupe Veikune, for services to the Pacific community


  •  Mr Tafafuna'i Fa'atasi Lauese, JP, for services to the Pacific community
  •  Reverend Perema Leasi, for services to the Pacific community
  •  Reverend Lucky Richard Slade, JP, for services to the Samoan community