Etuata’s work for Pacific community recognised
A Niuean church leader was Porirua’s only contribution to this year’s New Year honours list.
Tom Etuata, a Mt Cook resident who is on the board of the Whanau Centre and has been a pastor in churches in Tawa and Titahi Bay, received a Queen’s Service Medal for services to the Pacific community.
‘‘I’m very humbled and privileged to be recognised in that manner,’’ the father of six said.
‘‘You labour as a servant and all of a sudden someone nominated my name.’’
Etuata said his work was to keep the Niuean heritage alive.
‘‘For most of our young people born in New Zealand, English is their first language and Niuean is not even their second, because of the difficulty.
‘‘I put my time and energy into that area. On one side is our Niuean culture and the other side our New Zealand life.
‘‘My focus is how to balance that for people.’’
In 1986 Etuata pioneered a nationwide Niue Radio programme on Wellington Access Radio for the promotion of the Niue language.
Since moving to Wellington from Niue in 1967, Etuata has worked for the IRD, and as an accountant and a minister.
After studying Christian ministry for three years in Dunedin, his first parish was Tawa Union Church from 1990 until 1998. He then became the minister for St Timothy’s Titahi Bay Presbyterian Church from 1999 until 2012.
‘‘The two communities are so different.’’
He said he saw a lot of wealth in Tawa, and more hardship in Titahi Bay. That led to his involvement in the Whanau Centre from 2012.
‘‘I thought that was a very good way I could use some of my experience.’’
Though retired since 2012, Etuata is still heavily involved in the New Zealand Pacific Island community and has been a member of the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs advisory council since 2010.
He was previously chairman of Niue Fono Motu, a national body established to encourage collabor- ation among Niue Presbyterian ministers, elders, female leaders and Niue youth leaders in New Zealand, and chairman of Niue Kaufakalataha, a group he established in 2005 to provide support to other smaller Niue community groups.
Reverend Tom Etuata has helped keep the Niuean language alive in Porirua.