A relentless passion for helping the Pasifika community is honoured
Honorary recipient Peta Karalus with left to right, Wintec Acting Chief Executive David Christiansen, Dean Gaye Barton and Chair Barry Harris.
A driver of change in support of better health and welfare for Pasifika people has been awarded an honorary fellowship from Wintec.
Leaupepe Elisapeta (Peta) Karalus was awarded a prestigious Honorary Fellowship at Wintec’s Health and Social Practice Graduation ceremony this week.
On receiving the award, Peta shared some insights with the 180 health and social practice graduates at the event.
“This award is uplifting and important for the work we do in our communities. We can never be fully prepared, so never stop learning.
“The recent events in Christchurch against Muslim people have brought us to unite with these people we have never stood with before. Graduates, I encourage you to see the value in every person you meet.”
Wintec council Chair Barry Harris said that Peta’s conferment at Wintec’s Health and Social Practice Graduation event was fitting, considering her considerable passion for nursing.
“Peta, as she is known to many, is a health professional with many years’ experience who has a relentless passion for helping the Pasifika community.
“It is extremely fitting that Peta receives an Honorary Fellowship at this ceremony, as Peta’s passion is nursing. In fact, Peta taught nursing at Wintec and this fired up her passion to wrap more support around Pasifika and Māori students in education and health.”
Harris said Honorary awards are an opportunity for Wintec to recognise the achievements of people who help make our communities stronger and who make a significant contribution to Wintec, the region and the nation.
“The recipients of Wintec’s honorary awards have not used traditional academic pathways, they have earned their awards equally well in other ways.”
He also acknowledged the passing of one of Wintec’s honoraries at the event.
“Sadly, earlier this month one of our honorary family members, Monica Leggat, passed away, and I’d like to acknowledge this loss. Monica, a stalwart in netball and sporting circles, was a great supporter of Wintec, and always made the time to attend one of our graduation ceremonies each year. She will be missed.”
Three other Waikato leaders in the areas of innovation, business and arts will receive honorary awards from Wintec in 2019 for their longstanding contribution to their respective fields later in the year.
Sir James Wallace, an arts patron behind one of New Zealand’s most important art collections and Dallas Fisher, businessman and entrepreneur extraordinaire will receive honorary degrees. David Sidwell, one of New Zealand’s most highly acclaimed musical directors will receive an institutional medal.
About Leaupepe Elisapeta (Peta) Karalus
Peta Karalus moved to New Zealand from Western Samoa when she was 17, after being awarded a New Zealand Government Nursing Scholarship to study. She trained and graduated as a Registered Nurse, went on to complete a Master’s in Health Policy and Health Perspectives (Hons) in 2001. In that time, she taught nursing at Wintec, as well as being a mother to nine children.
She holds a high chief title, Leaupepe from the village of Fasito’outa in Samoa.
In 1999, Pasifika communities in Hamilton came together, seeking a Pasifika-focused service to enable the health and wellbeing of Pasifika people. Peta established K’aute Pasifika Trust with the help and support of these communities and led the vision, ‘united we achieve’ as chief executive officer for 18 years.
K’aute Pasifika Trust now services more than 4,000 Pacific Island clients in Hamilton with a range of health, social and education services.
In 2011, Peta led the establishment of Aeretai Regional Collective and Network, which brought together Pasifika Providers in Hamilton, Tokoroa, Tauranga and later Taranaki, Hawkes Bay and Gisborne. K’aute Pasifika is the lead provider for the Midlands Pasifika Collective and Whānau Ora Services throughout the wider Waikato region.
On top of this, she led the establishment of the Pasifika Power UP Plus programme in 2016, to support Pasifika parents, families and communities to champion their children's learning. Developed and funded by the Ministry of Education, PowerUP is a success and the collaboration between Wintec and K’aute Pasifika made this a reality.
Peta has contributed to several important pieces of research. She is a Justice of the Peace and was also awarded Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the Queen’s Birthday Honours 2006, for services to the Pacific Islands community. She has now moved back to live in Samoa after many years in the Waikato.