By RNZ Pacific
Playwrights, teachers, reverends, advocates, athletes and a former boxer are among the 13 Pacific people who have received New Year’s Honours, a group the Pacific peoples’ minister has described as inspiring.
Auckland early childhood educator, Afamasaga Vaafusuaga Telesia McDonald-Alipia is now an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit.
Afamasaga has had a long-involvement with Pacific early childhood education, dating back to 1991. She was New Zealand’s national coordinator for the Home Interaction Programme for Parents and Youngsters, which now has 40 centres across the country.
Award-winning playwright Victor Rodger has been made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit, for his services to theatre and Pacific arts.
His works deal with race, racism and identity including issues confronting Pacific peoples and the rainbow community.
Rodger said the recognition was a tribute to his palagi mother, even though his work has largely dealt with Pasifika themes and characters.
“It’s kind of ironic in some ways because my Samoan father was not part of my life growing up, and mum raised me from a very young age by herself, so that’s what I have been reflecting on since I learnt I got the honour. I see it as a real tribute to her.
“She’s always had my back, and just wanted me to figure out what made me happy both personally and professionally, and I do look at it as a tribute to her more than a tribute to me on a personal level,” he said.
His first play Sons premiered in 1995, a reworked version of which won four Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards.