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Our People

Ā mātou tāngata

Board of Trustees


Leopino Foliaki

Co-Chair, Partner, PwC

Leopino Foliaki is a Senior Partner at PwC where he has worked in a number of countries and provided an extensive range of audit and transaction services, including financial due diligence, acquisition accounting, review of projections, assessment and validation of merger synergies and public offerings. Since being made Partner in 1999, Leo has been involved with the Firm’s largest and complex client assignments in a range of industries including airlines, building products, consumer products, dairy, retail, telecommunications and other industrial manufacturing concerns.

Tina Wilson

Co-Chair, Director New Zealand Trade Development Centre Taiwan

Ngāti Tukorehe, Ngāti Raukawa, Muaupoko, Rangitane ki te Wairau, Ngāti Rarua Atiawa, Ngāi Tahu

Tina is Director at the New Zealand Trade Development Centre Taiwan for New Zealand Trade and Enterprise. Previously, she was Director of Māori Business at NZTE responsible for internationalising Māori Business and sourcing investment opportunities for Māori entities. She currently sits on the Council of Massey University and is the chair of Te Iwi o Ngati Tukorehe Trust. Prior to joining NZTE, Tina was CEO of the Taupo Moana Group/IWIinvestor – a specialist investment advisory firm for Māori (pan-tribal entities). Tina has worked within the Māori sector for the last 25 years, across investment, business strategy, financial management, training and economic development. She has extensive governance experience in both Māori and non Māori organisations.

Faye Langdon

Co Founder and Director, 21C Skills Lab

Faye Langdon is Co Founder and Director 21C Skills Lab. She is also the founder and previous Managing director at NZ Global Women. She has had a varied career spanning significant business development, business partnerships and business startup expertise. Prior to establishing her own businesses she was Director of Business Development, AUT University. Faye is a trustee on the Middlemore Health Foundation Board and previous trustee NZ Centre for Social Innovation. Faye holds a Bachelor of Education and Graduate Diploma in Teaching from the University of Auckland, and a Post Graduate Diploma in Business from AUT University.

Tim Watts

Co Founder TalentWire Group

Tim Watts is the Co-founder and director of TalentWire Group - Leading youth careers and employment marketplace. Prior to embarking on his entrepreneurial endeavours he was with PwC. Tim holds a Bachelor of Law and Bachelor of Commerce (Accounting) from Victoria University of Wellington. He is also an admitted Barrister & Solicitor and a Chartered Accountant. Tim is actively involved in various not-for-profit organisations - namely, he is a member of the Board of Director and Finance Committee for Outward Bound Trust of New Zealand and the founder and Chairperson of the New Zealand Association of Graduate Employers (NZAGE).

Rhys Faleafā

Business Consultant

Rhys Faleafā is of Tongan descent and has had a 20 year career in working in the professional services sector, education, and managing SME's in the private and public sector, including managing family enterprises, iconic NZ clothing company Huffer, the Pacific Business Trust, as well as serving as Interim Executive at TupuToa!

Rhys holds a BCom(Hons) in Accounting & Finance and a BSc in Chemistry, and is a Chartered Accountant. Currently the Co-Chair of the Pacific Islands Chartered Accountants Network., Rhys has experienced private sector governance roles as well as Ministerial appointed roles such as the Pacific Business Trust and Partnership School Kura Hourua Authorisation Board.

Rhys has been actively involved in developing TupuToa from an idea into a sustainable social enterprise model, and is most proud of the work TupuToa is doing to create opportunities for aspiring Māori and Pacific professionals to excel in culturally safe corporate and professional workplaces.

Tiaki Hunia

General Manager, Fonterra Māori Strategy

Tiaki Hunia joined Fonterra in 2017 as General Manager, Māori Strategy/Pouhere Māori. As Pouhere Māori, Tiaki is responsible for progressing the Co-operative’s strategic Māori commitments and strengthening its bicultural capability. He works across the business, to lead, build and implement Fonterra’s vision of a strong partnership with Māori, growing prosperous, healthy and sustainable communities together.

Tiaki previously held a number of roles, most recently with Te Puni Kōkiri, and prior to that, five years as Deputy Māori Trustee, Te Tumu Paeroa. He has also been involved in numerous governance roles with iwi and industry organisations over the last 10 years, notably Ngāti Awa Group Holdings Ltd, Māori Investments Ltd and Pūtauaki Trust.

Tiaki holds a Bachelor of Law and a Bachelor of Arts in Māori from the University of Auckland. He has previously been admitted as a Solicitor of the High Court of New Zealand and is a member of the Institute of Directors.

Talapo Uiva’a

Analyst, NZ Super Fund

Talapo, of Samoan descent, was placed with TupuToa in the NZ Super Fund, after the commencement of the internship he was offered a full-time role as an Analyst for External Investment and Partnerships, making him the only graduate and youngest analyst at the NZ Super Fund. Talapo holds a double degree in Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Finance and a Bachelor of Laws from Auckland University. He has had a lot of success in his short career thus far, co-founding Navigators of Success, which is a platform dedicated to inspiring and connecting Māori and Pasifika people.

Our Team

Te Tīma

Anne Fitisemanu

Chief Executive

Alofi, Niue, Pago Pago, American Samoa

Anne’s mission in life is to empower diversity and grow people – with her aiga and through her work. Her career has spanned leadership roles in health, education, local government and not-for-profits.

Anne’s superpower is connecting the dots by creating opportunities to serve our Māori and Pacific communities. As Chief Executive of TupuToa, since 2017, she has led the organisation’s vision to grow Māori and Pacific leaders for a greater Aotearoa, with exponential growth in the number of interns, partners and innovative programmes including regional and international opportunities.

In addition, she serves on the boards of the Pacific Corporation Foundation (Board Chair), Problem Gambling Foundation, National Deaf and Hard of Hearing Foundation and has previously served in leadership positions; PACIFICA Women’s National Board and YWCA National Board.

Anne has a Master of Professional Business Administration from Auckland University of Technology, and is an alumna of the Global Women Breakthrough Leaders Programme.
Of Niuean, Samoan and European heritage, she has been married to Equator for 30 years, and has seven adult children and 10 grandchildren.

Maruata Reweti

Director - Programmes

Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whātua

Maruata leads TupuToa’s Navigators Team, ensuring that the internship programme is delivered with excellence and that our rangatahi are supported to succeed. Throughout her life and career Maruata has been focused on building capability within Māori and Pacific communities. She brings several years’ experience as a teacher aide in Kohanga and primary schools, and five years with the Counties Manukau District Health Board engaging Māori and Pacific tauira in secondary and tertiary education.

Maruata grew up in Auckland and Samoa and speaks Te Reo Māori, English and basic Samoan. She has a Bachelor of Arts in Māori Development.

Luvu Afemui

Operations Manager

Sione Taunga

Alumni Manager

Sione is passionate about helping people grow and sees the Alumni Manager role as the perfect opportunity to help TupuToa alumni with their leadership and development journey. Having been a TupuToa Navigator earlier, he knows many of the interns personally and is well placed to support them in stepping up from internship roles and navigating their careers.

Prior to joining TupuToa, Sione had a varied career which included farms and factories, as well as being a fitness instructor and art dealer on cruise ships around the world, working as a teacher aide in Otara and as an administrator for a church in Manukau.

He holds a Bachelor of Physical Education and a Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Secondary School) from the University of Otago, is fluent in English and has Tongan language skills.

Florida Foliaki

Marketing & Communications Manager

Florida believes in the power of education to transform lives and sees her role as Navigator to support our interns and managers to ensure they are equipped with the knowledge and skills necessary for their TupuToa journey.

Prior to joining TupuToa, she taught English to high school students in Tonga. And while she may have left formal teaching, she continues to support her former students in Tonga, whilst also tutoring Tongan students in Mt Wellington once a week on a voluntary basis.

Florida holds a Bachelor of Property and a Bachelor of Commerce majoring in Marketing and Management from the University of Auckland. She is fluent in English and Tongan.

Yole Lelaulu

Programme Manager

Yole describes her team of navigators as the frontline workers of TupuToa’s kaupapa. They engage, empower, equip and support rangatahi to reach their potential, consequently creating more opportunities for generations to come.

Prior to joining TupuToa, Yole worked with a cybersecurity firm and through her university studies held roles in hospitality. She has also worked with the team at LeVa as a Youth Advisor and was part of their EAG for Atu-Mai, New Zealand’s first national violence prevention programme for young Pacific people. She is also the Deputy Convenor for the Pacific Women’s Watch.

Yole has a Bachelor of Arts in Communications and Marketing from the University of Otago and is fluent in English and Samoan, with rudimentary Te reo Māori skills.

Lane Fa’afua

Operations & Administration

Talalelei Reweti

Lead Navigator - Cadetship

Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Whātua, Vaiala, Fa'atoia, Fai'a'ai, Sagone, Hamburg

Tala’s role as a Navigator is all about supporting our interns and partners chart new waters together. He helps to guide and uplift our rangatahi and partner organisations through their individual journeys.

Prior to joining TupuToa, Tala had roles in logistics, as a health and PE teacher, and even dabbled in factory work. He holds a degree in sports and recreation from AUT University and worked as Operations Manager for the Get into Life Youth Development Trust for four years, prior to moving to Melbourne for his overseas experience.

Tala is fluent in Te reo Māori and has rudimentary Samoan skills.

Sofara Aiono

Associate Programme Manager

Solosolo, Fakaofo I Tokelau, Fasito’o-uta, Falevao & Pagopago

Sofara wants to ensure there is an equal playing field for Māori and Pacific peoples to be educated, have greater career prospects and be lifted out of poverty.
A varied career means he has a range of experiences to draw on when guiding our rangatahi. These include various roles with the Department of Internal Affairs (DIA) in Wellington, Auckland and London. He has taught English in Hiroshima for three years, taught English and Social Studies in Iraqi Kurdistan (Northern Iraq) for six months, and worked in international student admissions in the tertiary sector in the UK. Sofara has also served in the NZ Army for two and a half years as a Reserve Force Combat Medical Technician.
He holds a Bachelor of Arts (Anthropology) and a Postgraduate Diploma of Arts (Peace and Conflict Studies) from the University of Otago. Sofara is fluent in English, has conversational Japanese ability, and is learning Samoan.

Awhina Kanohi

Programme & Partner Support

Ngai Tuhoe, Ngati Porou, Ngai Tukairangi

Awhina's career roles have varied as hospitality management and being a flight attendant, to working in recruitment. A significant part of her career has focused on developing and empowering Māori as Senior Executive Advisor to the Independent Māori Statutory Board (IMSB) for Auckland Council; Careers and Employment Advisor at Ngāti Whātua Ōrakei Whai Maia; and Information Advisor at Te Puni Kōkiri.

Awhina has completed a Masters in Neuro Linguistics Practitioner Training (NLP), and holds a Post Graduate Diploma in Business (Māori Development), and a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese, Māori and Psychology. She is conversational in Te Reo Māori, and Japanese.

Lewis Tapene

Lead Navigator

To interact and engage with rangatahi and assist and support them as they enter in to the workforce is something that is the most rewarding part for Lewis as a Navigator. The opportunity to not only bring his cultural identity to our mahi, but also to share it with our partner organisations across Aotearoa is both valuable and a rewarding experience in itself.

Before joining TupuToa, Lewis worked across many different industries. He was a chef previously for 2 years and before that worked with Department of Conservation. He also had various trade and labour roles in his younger days. Lewis studied at the University of Auckland and is yet to complete his Conjoint Bachelor of Arts/Science.

He has been fortunate enough to be immersed in kapahaka growing up and is fluent in Te reo Māori.

Ashleigh Webster

Alumni Navigator

Ashleigh’s work as a Navigator is a reflection of her passion to work with Māori and Pacific peoples to meet their full potential. Working in spaces previously where she was the youngest, or one of only a handful of Moana peoples in her teams helps inform her journey alongside the interns.

Ashleigh has worked previously as a Student Support Advisor at Unitec, a Scholarships Advisor and the Graduation team leader at the University of Auckland. Prior to this Ashleigh has worked in a number of other roles, a teacher aide, a retail assistant and she loves to bake!

Ashleigh graduated from the University of Auckland with a Bachelor of Arts double majoring in Māori and Pacific studies and has also completed the Indigenous Summer Semester Programme at the University of Columbia in the city of New York. She has basic understanding of te reo Māori and Niuean and speaks a basic level of te reo Māori.

Lagi Farani


Sala’ilua, Faiaai, Palauli, Sataua and Moamoa

Faith and culture are central values for Lagi and have defined her personal and professional lives. She brings a diverse range of experiences to her role as Navigator at TupuToa, having previously worked as co-Editor for SUGA; a long-haul flight attendant and brand ambassador for Qantas; and a stint at the Ministry of Social Development in the Social and Emergency Housing team.
Lagi has also had a stint as a model and beauty queen, and also as a judge and host for beauty pageants. More recently, she played the lead role in the highly acclaimed short-film “Misadventures of a Pacific Professional”, which highlights the unconscious bias a senior Pacific faces at work.
Fluent in Samoan and English, Lagi holds a Bachelor’s of Art (Politics and Media Studies) from the University of Auckland, and a Graduate Diploma in Information Technology from Massey University.

Ihipera Happy


Ngāti Whātua, Te Rarawa, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Te Whakatōhea and Tūhoe

As someone who struggled to find her place as a Māori in a western world, and who never felt quite Māori enough, Ihipera aims to help other young people navigate the search for identity and cultural acceptance.
Ihipera brings several years of leadership experience gained in various roles at NZ Post, administration and international experience gained working for a helicopter maintenance company in Canada, and significant customer service skills to her role of Navigator.
Outside of work, she is an avid gardener and a beekeeper, and is working towards a Māra Kai and an apiary at her marae for the benefit of her people.
Ihipera has studied towards a Bachelor of Health Science (Physiotherapy) at AUT, and is fluent in English and Te Reo Māori.

Telayna Tapene-Maoate


Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Tūwharetoa, Te Rarawa kaiwhare me ngā motu a Te Kuki Airani, Tahiti nui, Hamoa me Tonga mai te moana-nui-a-Kiwa

Telayna was taught early that knowledge and respect are life’s currencies. She brings these values to her role as Kaiwhakatere at TupuToa, where she guides our rangatahi into successful pathways.
Education is paramount in Telayna’s whānau with both her parents dedicating 40+ years between them, it was no surprise when she pursued a career in education as a classroom teacher. The last 6 years have been full of teaching intermediate students, coaching sports, tutoring kapa haka, being a team leader and serving her school communities

Telayna holds a Bachelors in Teaching and post graduate qualifications in Te Reo me ōna Tikanga from the University of Waikato. She is fluent in Te Reo Māori and English, and has rudimentary Samoan and Cook Island language skills.

Kawa Stirling


Te Whānau a Apanui, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Kahungunu ki te Wairoa, Rongomaiwahine

Kawa believes in always striving to be the best you, that you can be. A former TupuToa intern with the Department of Corrections, she was so moved by her internship experience, she decided to join the kaupapa as a Navigator to help others benefit in the same way she had.
This builds on previous experience (paid and voluntary) working with young people, including several roles at the University of Waikato, as well as an engagement with a kaupapa rangatahi called Tuia te here tangata.
She hails from the East Coast/Hawkes Bay, Kawa holds a Bachelor of Arts (Te Reo Māori and Māori and Indigenous Studies) from the University of Waikato, and is fluent in English and Te Reo Māori.

Victoria Maiava


Dominic Blake


Francis Nu'u


Ruthie Nielsen


Tali Uasila’a

Marketing Navigator

Helen Petelo

Marketing Co-ordinator

Zoe Deng

Executive Administrator