The Pacific Fono

The Pacific Fono comprises Workforce Development Council members of Pacific heritage. The Pacific Fono is a collective voice who provides strategic leadership across WDCs.

Our purpose is to ensure that the WDC ecosystem is delivering on its obligations to help Pacific learners and āiga/families. We do this by: 

  • providing knowledge, insights, advice and support to strengthen WDCs’ shared understanding of the issues specific to Pacific learners.  
  • Engaging with Pacific industry and business and Pacific communities in the Vocational Education system.  
  • conveying consistent messages about Pacific needs, and gaps, in the WDCs and Vocational Education system.   
  • ensuring alignment of approaches to Pacific related work programmes across WDCs, and  
  • celebrating Pacific success.  

The members of the Pacific Fono are:

Mele Wendt (Chair of Pacific Fono, Toi Mai)

Mele Wendt MNZM, received her honour in 2019 for services to governance, the Pacific community and women. She is Samoan (Malie, Lefaga, Vaiala) and palagi (NZ, Britain). Mele is currently a board member of Te Kura (the Correspondence School), the Real Estate Authority, and Wellington Community Trust. She also chairs the Steering Group implementing the National Action Plan for Community Governance. 

Mele’s past governance appointments include chairing the Pasifika Education Centre and the Massey University Pacific Student Success Working Group, and serving as board member on Lotteries Wellington/Wairarapa Distribution Committee, Volunteer Service Abroad (VSA), Major Arc Charitable Trust, and Victoria House, to name a few. For 10 years, Mele was the Executive Director of Fulbright New Zealand. Her roles at Victoria University of Wellington included the founding Pacific Islands Liaison Officer and the manager of domestic student recruitment. 

Chantelle Bailey (Waihanga Ara Rau)

Chantelle Bailey, Te Rarawa, Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Hāmoa (Lotofaga and Le’auva’a) is a Lead Structural Engineer for Aurecon. She has more than 25 years of experience in engineering with a focus on structural and aircraft engineering in roles with GHD, OPUS and the Royal New Zealand Air Force. 

Chantelle is on the Te Ao Rangahau Māori Advisory Panel and previously served as a trustee on the Engineering New Zealand Foundation, a past board member of the Manawatū Branch of the Institute of Professional Engineers New Zealand.  She is passionate about using the experience and knowledge that she has developed to influence change and inspire others for the future of our rangatahi and tauira mahi.  Having worked across different boards, she has developed strong leadership and kaitiakitanga skills.   Chantelle will bring to the table a world view, the benefit of her experience and insight, as an engineer and experienced governance practitioner, woman, mother and wife, a totality of experience.

Hinerangi Edwards (Ringa Hora, Chair)

Hinerangi Edwards, Taranaki, Ngāruahine, Taranaki, Ngāti Ruanui, Te Arawa is an executive director and co-owner of AATEA, a Kaupapa Māori professional services consultancy. She was also the co-chair of the interim Establishment Board for the Primary Industries Workforce Development Council, and is a member of the Māori Economic Development Advisory Board, and a director of Korou Digital Agency in Te Wairoa. 

Hinerangi has previously held governance roles with a number of other organisations including as a Māori Language Commissioner, a councillor at Western Institute of Technology (WITT), a board member of Parininihi Ki Waitotara, and a trustee for a range of charitable trusts. She has a background in career planning and employment and was a national moderator for the Public Sector from 2005-2015.

Hinurewa te Hau (Ringa Hora)

Hinurewa te Hau Whakatōhea, Ngāti Hine, Ngāti Kahungungu, Maniapoto, Tūwharetoa, Ngāti Raukawa and Samoan Heritage. Based in Whangarei, Hinurewa is the General Manager of Creative Northland the regional arts development agency for Te Tai Tokerau (Northland). She is an experienced business leader and a consistent champion of effective Tiriti partnership and realisation of Tikanga Māori values across private sector boards, not for profit organisations and government.  

Hinurewa was a member of the interim Establishment Boards for of the Creative, Cultural, Recreation and Technology (Toi Mai). Her past governance experience includes chairing the Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland) Matariki Festival Trust, a Founder and director of Matariki Cultural Foundation and Chairs the World Music Pan Indigenous Network representing over 34 countries. Other board positions are Q Theatre Limited, Otamatea Pioneer and Kauri Museum based in the Kaipara and recently appointed as a Director to Auckland Unlimited Board. She has honed her skills in public policy, cultural tourism, small business management, and local economic development.

Iani Nemani (Muka Tangata)

Iani Nemani has Tongan and Fijian heritage. He is an experienced community engagement practitioner with a specific lens on the labour market and local economic development. 

Iani is a Ministerial appointee to the Human Rights Review Tribal. He has served on advisory boards that include the Manukau Institute of Technology Pasifika Community Advisory Board. He is currently also a trustee of the Pasifika Education Centre, the Consumer Experience Council at the Auckland District Health Board, and is also Co-Chair for Leadership New Zealand.

Jerome Mika (Hanga-Aro-Rau)

Jerome Mika is Community and Business Development Lead at The Cause Collective, a Pacific social change agency in South Auckland. He has previously held a number of roles focusing on engaging with Māori and Pacific communities and ensuring cultural insights are embedded into projects. Jerome has led and been part of great teams in both the corporate and not for profit sector.  

Mr Mika has considerable experience in unions in both New Zealand and Samoa with roles at the Dairy Workers Union, Samoa First Union, First Union and EPMU. He has also been a Business Director for Ogilvy and Mather Marketing agency. Jerome currently sits on the Pacific Advisory Board for the Counties Manukau Police.

Paul Retimanu (Ringa Hora)

Paul Retimanu is the managing director of Manaaki Management Ltd, which operates Karaka Café and Kawakawa Eatery as well as three function centres in Wellington. He is the president of the Wellington branch of Hospitality NZ, a board member of Hospitality NZ, and chair of the Wellington College Board. 

Paul has strong connections with both Māori and Pasifika business and is chair of the Wellington Pacific Business Network, and deputy chair for Te Awe Māori Business Network.

Tofilau Talalelei Taufale (Toitū Te Waiora)

Tofilau Talalelei Taufale is the Pacific Health Development Manager for the Hawke’s Bay District Health Board, a position he has held for the past 10 years. Tofilau previously held senior roles at William Colenso College, where he was Senior Director of Curriculum and Hastings Boys High School where he was Dean of Pacific students and vocational studies. He is also a director of USO Bike Ride, an award-winning not-for-profit organisation established to promote health and wellbeing for Pacifica through cycling. 

Tofilau holds a number of governance positions including being a trustee of HB Youth Futures Trust and St Joseph’s Māori Girls College Trust board, co-chair for the National Bowel Screening Program Pacific National Network and the Pacific representative for the Central Region Workforce Development Hub.  He has also held advisory roles with the EIT Pasifika Education Reference Group and the Hawke’s Bay Ministry of Education Pasifika Reference Group.  He is also a highly regarded Pacific leader for the Hawke's Bay community.