Manukau Courier : January 11th 2011
www.manukaucourier.co.nz Tuesday, January 11, 2011 Dedication pays off By KAREN MANGNALL Honoured: Su'a Saimolialevalasi Margueritta Ekepati-Leilua of Clover Park is awarded a Queen's Service Medal in the New Year's Honours for her services to the Pacific community. Self-sufficient: Kororia Tangihaere Theodore receives a Queen's Service Medal for decades of service to the Otara community and helping many of its residents learn to budget. Photos: KAREN MANGNALL Dedicated: Queen's Service Medal recipient Foai Suka Foai of Mangere at the Mataliki Tokelauan early childhood centre he founded, the only one in south Auckland. CONTINUED Page 3 BUDGETING adviser Koro- ria Theodore's first thought when she got a call from the Cabinet Office was: I must be in trouble for something''. Fellow Otara resident Su'a Saimolialevalasi Margueritta Ekepati-Leilua hung up after her call, feeling sure it was a practical joke. Instead the two women and Mangere's Foai Suka Foai are now fielding congratulations on receiving Queen's Service Medals in the New Year honours list. Mrs Ekepati-Leilua re- ceives her QSM for serving the Pacific community, especially in Otara where she's lived since arriving in New Zealand in 1968. The 61-year-old is still coming to terms with being on the same honours list as the big people''. She admits to being stub- born in the cause of serving her community. I may be stubborn but I ensure that things are done and done properly.'' During her nine years on the Otara Community Board, three as its chairwoman, she initiated clean-ups of the community's lake and streets and worked to beautify its parks. She's also campaigned against illegal drinking of alcohol in Otara's parks and for underground power cables to rid the area of pylons. And after 23 years as deputy chairwoman of Tangaroa College's board of trustees she's especially proud the school's gone from being a swear word'' to turn- ing out scores of students going on to tertiary edu- cation. Mrs Ekepati-Leilua was also a founding member and secretary of Counties Manu- kau Samoa Rugby Football Union and played significant roles in the Samoan Congre- gational Christian churches in Otara and Mangere. A brain aneurism forced her to stand down as com- munity board chairwoman in 2007 but she still hankers to return to politics. I want to feel better again before I go back. I want to be there with all of me instead of part of me.'' Mangere East resident Foai Suka Foai, 69, receives his QSM for more than three decades of service to Auck- land's Tokelauan community. I feel so privileged to receive such an honour.'' The 69-year-old is manager and treasurer of the Mataliki Tokelau early childhood cen- tre in Mangere, the only one in south Auckland. He and wife Feagai started it in their Mangere garage, working day jobs to pay the sole childcare worker. Since then the centre's moved several times, expand- ing from five children to 50 and 15 staff. They've got a big waiting list'', Mr Foai says, and are looking for bigger premises. The children are taught in Tokelauan, a language Mr Foai is determined to revive within the New Zealand-born generations. Last year the Education Ministry funded the centre's first Tokelauan language pro- gramme which it's hoping to repeat this year. Mr Foai is vice-president of the Auckland Tokelau Society, the Tokelauan kau- matua for the Pasifika Festi- val and an official Tokelauan interpreter.
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