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Faumuina Prof Fa’afetai Sopoaga’s work in Pacific health and education has earned her a New Year...
Faumuina Prof Fa’afetai Sopoaga’s work in Pacific health and education has earned her a New Year honour. PHOTO: ODT FILES


For services to Pacific health and tertiary education

Faumuina Prof Fa’afetai Sopoaga has been a leading voice in medical and public health education for Pacific communities since the 1990s.

The Dunedin woman is being made a Companion to the New Zealand Order of Merit for her efforts.

Prof Sopoaga said the achievement was a reflection of her parents, who instilled the importance of education and service to others.

She was the inaugural University of Otago health sciences Pacific associate dean, a role she held from 2009-20.

She led the development of the health sciences first strategic plan, which contributed to the university’s Pacific strategic plan.

Her advocacy for additional senior Pacific leadership roles in health sciences helped pave the way for the seven Pacific associate dean roles today.

She also led the establishment of the health sciences reference and strategic groups from 2013-18, which involved engaging Otago University leaders with Pacific leaders throughout New Zealand and the Pacific region.

She recently returned from five months in Samoa, where she worked closely with the Samoan Ministry of Health regarding Covid-19 with support from the New Zealand Ministry of Health.

‘‘I am delighted to have the opportunity to serve both the New Zealand and the Samoan governments in this role,’’ she said.

As director of Va’a o Tautai Centre for Pacific Health, she led the mobilisation of Samoa Doctors Worldwide volunteers to support relief efforts for Samoa’s 2019 and 2020 measles epidemic.

In 2020, Prof Sopoaga was the first female medical doctor of Pacific descent in Australasia to become a professor.

She received a Prime Minister’s Supreme Award in 2018 for excellence in tertiary teaching and recently gained her PhD.


Excellent, it is well deserved Tai.



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