SunPix Pacific Peoples Awards 2017

The SunPix Pacific Peoples Awards celebrates outstanding individuals and their achievements that contribute towards Pasifika success in five of the following award categories: Pacific Community Leadership, Pacific Enterprise, Pacific Health and Wellbeing, Pacific Education and Pacific Emerging Leadership.

This year, Pasifika Futures was proud to sponsor the Pacific Community Leadership Award at the SunPix Pacific Peoples Awards, held on 15th November 2007 at Eden Park in Auckland.

The Pacific Community Leadership award recognises those Pacific People who lead community organisations in any field that strengthen Pacific communities. Pasifika Futures believe in the importance of celebrating our Pacific leaders and those who work towards empowering others in order to see our Pacific communities prosper.

Pasifika Futures CEO, Debbie Sorensen spoke at the event before presenting the recipients with their awards, extending her acknowledgements to all Pacific leaders in the room.

“Those cold community halls, those weekend on the sidelines, those nights going out when we don’t really want to leave our families. It recognises all of that work that we do every day that is part of our service and commitment to those that are dear to us”

“Our communities benefit from leadership of this kind, big and small, many people not recognised, and many of our community leaders are our unsung heroes.”

“It is indeed our pleasure this evening to recognise two of our community leaders and we thank them for their service.” Said Mrs Sorensen.


The first recipient of the Pacific Community Leadership award was Phylesha Brown-Acton for her service to the Pasifika LGBTQI community as Director of FINE, a Whanau Ora funded service. Phylesha also champions LGBTQI issues on a global level and has advocated for human rights issues that impact transgender people and indigenous populations at the UN in both New York and Geneva.

Phylesha gracefully accepted her award stating, “Twenty-four years in community from voluntary to paid work, this is the first recognition of not only my work but my community.”

She also took the time to acknowledge her family and friends for their instrumental support and encouragement, including the Pasifika Futures team and CEO, Debbie Sorensen by saying “She [Debbie] taught me many lessons around the fact that it’s not about being a trans woman, it’s about being you. It’s about having the courage and the passion to do well for yourself, for your family and for your people.”

“Transgender people in Aotearoa, New Zealand – if you happen to know one or if you ever come into contact with on, get to know them, get to love them. Help them grow, be alongside them, be an ally with them.” Ms Brown-Acton challenged the audience.


The second recipient of the Pacific Community Leadership Award was Mr Allan Va’a for his service over the past 30 years as a mentor to youth in South Auckland. Mr Va’a currently works for Iosis, mentoring young men and dedicates his time as a volunteer helping develop leadership in sports teams and running a boy’s club, working with at-risk youth in Otara.

Upon accepting his award, Mr Va’a thanked his family for their continued support and dedication to the community they all serve together, and his parents particularly for instilling in him the values he lives by. “I dedicate this award to them because if it wasn’t for them investing into my life and being the example that they were in my life, and in the lives of many people, I wouldn’t be doing this stuff.”

“I encourage us, I challenge us here today people, friends, loved ones – be the voice for those who can’t speak. Be the voice for those who can’t speak for themselves. And when they get that opportunity and they feel that potential and strength to speak on their own behalf, our job is done.” Said Mr Va’a.

Congratulations to both Ms Phylesha Brown-Acton and Mr Allan Va’a for their continuous work towards uplifting and empowering our Pacific families and communities & to all other nominee’s and recipients at the SunPix Pacific Peoples Awards 2017.

The full list of 2017 SunPix Pacific Peoples Award recipients are:

The Pacific Emerging Leadership Award, sponsored by the Ministry for Pacific Peoples – Josiah Tualamali’I and Tommy Ikitogia (Tommy Nee)

The Pacific Education Awards, sponsored by AUT – Niusila Faamanatu-Eteuati and Metua Daniel-Atutolu

The Pacific Health and Wellbeing Award, sponsored by the Pacific Media Network – Tupou Neiufi and Dave (Brown Butterbean) Letele

Top Pacific Medical Student Award, sponsored by ProCare Health – Ana Blakelock

The Pacific Enterprise Award, sponsored by Pacific Business Trust – Innes Logan and Josiah Pasikale

The Pacific Community Leadership Award, sponsored by Pasifika Futures – Phylesha Brown-Acton and Allan Va’a

Check out the Photo Gallery below:

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Watch the Tagata Pasifika 1 hour Awards Special on demand here