Meet the Pacific Student Success team , Ngā kaimahi tautoko i ngā tauira Pacifika

Our vibrant team, alongside other Massey University staff liaise with students, families, secondary schools and local communities to ensure quality services are provided to support Pacific students and their academic aspirations.

Pacific Student Success team

Pacific Student Success, Office of Provost Team

Professor Palatasa Havea

Dean Pacific, Office of Pacific Student Success

+64 6 9516587

Melvin Taupulega Jnr Apulu

Samoa (Faleasiu, Apia)

Mphil (SocPol), PG Dip (YthDev), BSW (BiP)

Team Leader, Pacific Student Success, Office of the Provost, Auckland campus

+64 9 213 6423 extension 43423

"Talofa lava, Malo lava le soifua maua ma le lagi mama, viia lava le Alii."

Melvin is of Samoan heritage, from the villages of Faleasiu and Apia. He was born and raised in South Auckland, New Zealand, is married and has four children.

Melvin holds a Master’s in philosophy (social policy) from Massey University and is an experienced senior lecturer in Social Work. He has worked in education management and non-profit organisations, and is skilled in youth development, coaching, clinical and cultural supervision, and event management.

Melvin is an avid surfer and paddler, enjoying fishing and the outdoors. He strongly believes in the promotion of aiga, self-care, fitness, health, wealth, and wellbeing for all. He looks forward to using his experience and skills to lead his team in achieving Pacific student success at Massey University.

"O le ala I le pule o le tautua (The pathway to authority is through service)" – Samoan proverb

Janice Ikiua-Pasi (She/her)

Niue (Avatele mo Alofi)


Distance Learning Advisor, Pacific Student Success, Office of the Provost, Wellington campus

Janice Ikiua-Pasi is based at Fale Bilong Iumi on the Wellington campus. She is here to support and advocate for all Pacific distance learning students and answer questions to make sure your journey within Massey University has a positive impact in your life. If she does not have an answer then she will track down the person who does.

Janice is proud of her Niue culture. She has studied and worked in various tertiary institutions around New Zealand, is a published poet, and dabbles in spoken word and tinkering with niu ideas for niu journeys.

Sesimani Havea

Pacific Postgraduate Learning Advisor, Pacific Student Success, Office of the Provost, Manawatū campus

+64 6 356 9099 extension 85097

 Eteta Trueman's photo

Eteta Trueman

Cook Islands (Reureu, Aitutaki), New Zealand

Private Secretary, ICS, Certificate Design and Multimedia

Personal Assistant, Communications Coordinator, Pacific Student Success, Office of the Provost, Manawatū campus

+64 6 951 6318 extension 83318

With proud heritage from her mother’s homeland of Reureu, Aitutaki, Cook Islands, Eteta has been a member of the Pasifika Staff Network (PSN), since she started at Massey University.

Eteta has always had a passion for the Pacific and would like to see Pacific people thrive in academia, to not only establish themselves as credible researchers, but also as global problem solvers. She wants Pacific people to have a healthy, more sustainable and happy lifestyle that not only reaches out to the local community, but to the Pacific and Polynesian islands as well, with a sharing of knowledge and foresight into future growth.

Eteta believes that with the right intention, this can be achieved with our team at Massey, and she is excited to be "one of the crew on Prof Tasa Havea’s canoe, with God captaining our journey".

"For with God nothing shall be impossible" – Luke 1:37

College-based Pacific student success support staff

Dr Siautu Alefaio-Tugia

Samoa (Matautu-Tai, Sasina, Manunu and Fagamalo)


Associate Dean Pacific/Associate Professor, School of Psychology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Auckland campus

+64 9 414 0800 extension 43440

Siautu is an experienced psychologist practitioner, a Global Fellow of the Center for Human Rights & Humanitarian Studies, Brown University, and Rutherford Discovery Fellow.

In 2016, she founded NIUPATCH, which stands for Navigate In Unity: Pacific Approaches to Community-Humanitarians. It shines the light on the work of Pasifika leaders, practitioners and academics, as they navigate in unity through challenges facing Pacific communities with talanoa, and the exchange of projects, research and ideas.

More about Siautu's research expertise, projects and outputs

Associate Professor Igelese Ete (Tuilagi)

Samoa, Fiji

Bachelor of Music (Performance)Victoria University, Post-Graduate Diploma of Teaching (Whitireia), Master of Music: [Hon] (Composition), University of Auckland, PhD [Candidate] (AUT).

Associate Dean Pacific, Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor, Toi Rauwharāngi, College of Creative Arts, Wellington campus

Igelese Ete is passionate about the Pacific creative and performing arts and its ability to inspire, empower, educate, and uplift the world.

Before being appointed Associate Dean: Pacific at Massey, he was the Head of Performing Arts at the Oceania Centre for Arts Culture and Pacific Studies at the University of Pacific, Suva Fiji.

In 2009, Ete was awarded the prestigious Creative New Zealand Senior Pacific Artist Award for his contribution to the promotion and performance of Pacific music in New Zealand and the Pacific. The Fiji Government also appointed him in 2017 to be Chairperson of the Fiji Arts Council Board.

With extensive conducting, composition, and teaching experience Ete was the New Zealand Choirmaster for 'The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring', working with composer Howard Shore and director Sir Peter Jackson. In 2016 he was contracted as ‘choirmaster’ & music/choral consultant for the latest Disney animation ‘Moana’ , featuring the talented Pasifika Voices from the Oceania Centre For Arts Culture and Pacific Studies at the University of the South Pacific.

Ete is currently completing his PhD at the Auckland University of Technology. As part of his thesis, he’s creating and composing an original Samoan and Pacific musical production and creative work, which speaks about ‘Creative exploration of traditional and contemporary Samoan musical structures, instrumentation and performance, expressing genealogy through the realms of self-identity’.

His musical production Malaga: The Journey: A Choreographed Choral Celebration has been used since its premiere in 1998 as a powerful motivational tool for students and communities, especially those of pacific descent.

 Jodie Hunter's photo

Jodie Hunter

Cook Islands (Manihiki/Aitutaki)


Associate Professor/Associate Dean – Pacific, Institute of Education, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Auckland campus

Jodie has broad research interests in Pasifika education and the teaching and learning of mathematics.

She has been involved in collaborative work with teachers and students at a national level to facilitate change in their mathematics classrooms. Her previous research at Plymouth University in the UK included a focus on developing early algebraic reasoning in primary classrooms – covering professional development, classroom and mathematical practices, and student perspectives.

Jodie has a growing interest in culturally sustaining teaching development for Pasifika students in the mathematics classroom. This includes considering the cultural, linguistic and social contexts of Pasifika students and growing stronger home/community and school partnerships.

More about Jodie's research expertise, projects and outputs.

Dr Tracie Mafile'o's photo

Dr Tracie Mafile'o

Tongan/Pākehā (Te’ekiu, Hihifo, Tongatapu)

PhD, PGCert Arts, BSW (Hons – 1st class)

Associate Dean Pacific, School of Social Work, College of Health, Manawatū campus

Tracie is keen to support and mentor students considering postgraduate research.

Her work promotes the advancement of Pacific cultural knowledges and ways –within social work and social development, regionally and internationally.

Areas of focus include cultural humility, anti-racist practice, Indigenous helping systems and practices, community development, youth development, higher education, research capacity strengthening, and qualitative and arts-based research methods.

More about Tracie's research expertise, projects and outputs.

Velonika Nikki Falaniko

Samoa (Upolu – Lotofaga Aleipata, Gagaifo Lefaga, Saleufi. Savai'i – Papa Sataua, Falealupo)

Science Student Support Coordinator, Office of Pacific Student Success, College of Science, Auckland campus

+64 21 36882 or extension 43882

Velonika connects Pacific students to the right academic support within the College of Science. Being a scientist herself allows her to engage and support Massey's Pacific students in the College's different schools. Velonika is based at the Auckland campus and is a Creationist.

Alister (Tali) Lavini

Pacific Student Support Advisor, Office of the Pro Vice-Chancellor, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Manawatū campus

Kotalo Leau

Samoa (Sataoa, Letogo, Solosolo), Tuvalu (Nanumea), Niue, Hawaii

Tautai Pasifika, School of Psychology, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Auckland campus

Kotalo is Samoan and Tuvaluan, and still to discover Niuean and Hawaiian roots. She helps to navigate the waters of Massey University with College of Humanities and Social Sciences Pacific students, Psychology students in particular, and welcomes students to get in touch.

Kotalo's role also includes being the Research Officer and Youth lead for the ‘Caring for our Pacific Wisdom Bearers study’ with Dr Siautu Alefaio-Tugia.

Marlon Naepi

Aotearoa, Niue (Alofi and Tamakautoga)

Bachelor of Christian Ministries

Kia ora and fakaalofa lahi atu students I'm one of the Pacific Student Advisors within the School of Psychology where I support Psychology students in their academic journey at undergraduate levels. Whether it be looking for financial, academic, well-being support or just someone to talk with I'm there to help and provide support to ensure your journey at Massey is successful.

Reti Simanu

Pacific Student Advisor, Office of Pacific Student Success, Auckland

Khodesh Eruera Faamalosi Temita

Samoa (Faleula, Vavau), Tuvaluan (Nui), Jewish (Ashkenazi lineage) and Chinese (Guangzhou).

Bachelor of Computer and Information Sciences

Student recruitment advisor, Marketing and Recruitment, Students and Global Engagement, Auckland

“O le ala i le pule, o le tautua” (the pathway to authority is through service).

"Talofa lava, o lo’u igoa o Khodesh Faamalosi Temita."

Khodesh is a walking Wikipedia for all things Massey University, and your first step to knowing what Massey and Pacific Massey can offer you.

Khodesh loves to encourage people to realise their dreams and would like to see more Pacific people in STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) areas, as there will be exponential growth in jobs and opportunities there.

If you need a bit of direction on what qualification you need to take, Khodesh is your main man.

Pacific academic staff

Professor Rukmani Gounder


Doctor of Philosophy, Master of Arts – University of Poona (1990), Diploma in Computer Management – The Complete Computer Company (1989), Bachelor of Arts – University of the South Pacific (1985)., BA (USP), MA (Pune), PhD (Qld)

Professor of Development Economics, School of Economics and Finance, Massey Business School, Manawatū

+64 6 350 5701 extension 84063

Professor Rukmani Gounder comes from Nadi, Fiji, and obtained her primary and secondary education in Nadi and Bachelor’s degree in Economics (Fiji Government Scholar) from the University of the South Pacific (Suva).

Rukmani’s research has largely been in the areas of economics and social development with an applied economics framework in the Asia-Pacific nations.

She was elected as a chairperson of the Pacific@Massey Network in 2007, and until 2013 served as a member of Pacific Research and Policy Centre. She also served as a Chairperson of the Pasifika Development Working Committee, Massey Business School (MBS). Now she serves as the Massey Business School (MBS) representative in the management group at the School, MBS and University levels, and as a member of the Pacific Research and Policy Centre.

Rukmani can advise Pacific students on their courses, assist in their needs, provide clarification about Economics courses, and address any academic concerns.

Read more about Rukmani's research, background and qualifications

Professor Peter Lockhart

Professor, School of Fundamental Sciences, Manawatū

Peter studies the adaptive potential of plants, pests and pathogens. He co-leads a joint French-New Zealand project with the CNRS (the French National Centre for Scientific Research), which is a laboratory-without-walls investigating the adaptive potential of New Zealand alpine and French Kerguelen Island plants.

He is coordinator of a UNESCO UNITWIN Network Science for Sustainability in Oceania that is developing in-field DNA diagnostics for plant, animal and human health. His scientific achievements earned him an Alexander von Humboldt Research Fellowship and New Zealand Royal Society Fellowship.

Learn more about Peter's research expertise, projects and outputs

Nicole Mincher

Niue (Alofi), Māori, NZ European

Lecturer, Institute of Education, College of Humanities and Social Sciences, Manawatū

Ko Pārengarenga te moana
Ko Tawhitiahi te maunga
Ko Awapoka te awa
Ko au ko Nicole Mincher.

Fakalofa lahi atu.

Nicole is a registered educational psychologist and came to Massey from the Ministry of Education and Explore Specialist Advice. She has a particular interest in equity in education, and how schools and systems can best support our tamariki, kaiako and whānau. She hopes to have the opportunity to learn alongside you.

Any students interested in anything educational psychology related, or with any questions about course content, training pathways or working as an educational psychologist, should get in touch with Nicole.

More about Nicole's research expertise, projects and outputs.

Ms Lara Thompson

New Zealand Pākehā, Samoan (Vailima, Sa’anapu, Satupa’itea)

BA, PG CERT English (MA in progress)

Senior Tutor, Humanities, Media, and Creative Communication, and BASE+, Humanities and Social Sciences, PVC Office, Manawatū

+64 6 350 5701 extension 84510

Lara Thompson is one of the BASE+ Pacific Student Advisors and focuses on helping students with academic questions. She runs one-on-one academic advice sessions and is passionate about enabling Pacific students to achieve.

Lara loves to chat and believes that a 'Talk to Write' approach works well for enabling students to find their voice and way through writing tasks. Her Master's degree focused on postcolonial theory and literature.

Lara is Samoan through her mother, Lineta Eti Eves and is proudly linked to the villages of Vailima, Sa’anapu, and Satuipa’itea (among others). She worked in Malifa, Samoa near a giant mango tree that stood near the site of a fale that her family lived in, her grandfather being a former school inspector many moons ago.
When not at work helping students, Lara dedicates her time to her children, wider fanau, fixing her old house, and making her garden behave.

Dr John Griffith Moala Tupouniua

Tonga (Kolomotu’a), Fiji.


Lecturer in Mathematics Education, Institute of Education, Humanities and Social Sciences, Auckland

John is originally from Tonga, (of Tongan and Fijian descent) and was educated in the United States. He teaches courses in mathematics and education, and his research focuses on enhancing Māori and Pasifika students' achievement in mathematics, as part of the Developing Mathematical Inquiry Communities (DMIC) initiative.

John is available to mentor Pacific students throughout their education. His other research interests include analysing advanced mathematical thinking and teaching and learning discrete mathematics (more specifically, the algorithmatising approach).

Read more about John's research outputs, expertise and other information

Krushil Watene

Tonga (Hunga, Vava'u), Māori

BA, BA (Hons), MA(Hons) (Auckland); PhD (St Andrews)

Philosopher, Rutherford Discovery Fellow, Philosophy, School of Humanities, Media and Creative Communication, Auckland

Krushil grew up in South Auckland, and came to university in her early 20s. She became interested in philosophy as an undergraduate, particularly in political philosophy and questions around wellbeing, development and justice.

Krushil was appointed to the United Nations 2020 Human Development Report Advisory Board, and was awarded a Rutherford Discovery Fellowship in 2018. Her grandfather was from Hunga in the Vava'u islands group of Tonga. He came to New Zealand as a boxer in the 1950s and travelled to Britain to box there before returning to New Zealand in the 1970s.

Anyone interested in philosophy, or any of the courses in the School of Humanities, Media and Creative Communication, can see Krushil in the Atrium Building.

More about Krushil's research expertise, projects and outputs.