Te Pūkenga Regional Co-Leader honoured for services to Māori

Pipiri 6, 2023 | 4 min read

Toa Faneva 2

Te Pūkenga - New Zealand Institute of Skills and Technology congratulates Toa Faneva (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Kahu ki Whaingaroa, Aofi) who today was appointed a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNZM) for services to Māori.

Mr Faneva is Tumu Whenua ā-Rohe 1 | Executive Director, Region 1, co-leading vocational education in Te Tai Tokerau | Northland and Tāmaki Makaurau | Auckland in partnership with Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga.

Te Pūkenga has four operational regions with regional co-directors in each. These roles are a key way the network is putting into action the partnership between Māori and Te Pūkenga

"The honour recognises Toa’s leadership over many years in a range of areas. Most recently in bringing together Iwi, agencies and community organisations in the north to protect whānau and ensure hāpori wellbeing during the COVID pandemic," says Tumuaki | Chief Executive Peter Winder.

"Toa brings his proven ability to connect with people and inspire them to support the aspirations of tens of thousands of ākonga in the region through skills training," says Mr Winder.

During his career, Mr Faneva has held a range of important public service and iwi development roles, including CEO lead for Te Kahu o Taonui, the Thirteen Iwi Chair consortium for Te Tai Tokerau.

The coordination - at an Iwi level - to deliver support on the ground through local Marae and providers was key in protecting the country’s most vulnerable communities from the virus ensuring effective healthcare and information on vaccination came from trusted sources.

"COVID was the great leveller," says Toa Faneva. "We learnt that in shifting decision making and empowerment to hapū and iwi things won’t fall apart. In fact, they’ll work really well. Government agencies that found it difficult to deploy resources in our areas, found marae and local networks valuable as ‘first responders.’"

Mr Faneva was Chief Executive of Te Rūnanga o Whaingaroa from 2015 to 2021 providing a range of social services including healthcare, education, financial capability and emergency housing to whānau.

In this time, the organisation led the development of an innovative complex for emergency and transitional housing on Whangaroa Harbour.

Currently, Toa is Co-Chair of the Regional Skills Leadership Group for Te Tai Tokerau, Te Purunga ki te Raki and Chair of Te Kainga Atawhai, a subsidiary company of Te Māhurehure Cultural Marae in Point Chevalier which launched Te Taumata o Kupe, a Mātauranga Māori Centre for learning and navigation excellence 2022 as well as a 14-unit public housing build also based at the Marae.

He says he feels surprised, humbled and privileged to receive such recognition.

"Usually, this (honour) is for all the Kaumatua (elders). Does this mean I’m getting old?" he jokes.

"When I told my wife Casey she said it was really important for our boys to have Māori and Pacific male role models to look up to. That was the thing that made me say, ‘I’ll accept it and be proud.’"

As a network, Te Pūkenga acknowledges the service Toa has given the country as well as the mahi he does and inspiration he provides for the next generation of rangatira in Aotearoa New Zealand.