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Insights from a Trailblazing Leader - The Honourable Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa



ECG directors Sara Jane and Leaupepe Ta'ala Ralph Elika were guests at a fireside chat with Samoan Prime minister Fiamē Naomi Mataʻafa hosted at AUT. The discussion was focused on Insights on leadership and future relationships between the Pacific and NZ.

Below are our key reflections to share from her Talanoa:

Advice on Leadership:

  • Be aware of your environments and cultures surrounding you.

  • Take a flexible approach to leadership- there is a time to listen and a time to be bold and make courageous decisions.

  • "Go fast.. slowly."

  • Find like-minded people with a range of skills and ideas; collaboration is key to strengthening your weaknesses.

  • Experience, People and Engagement are the three pillars of strategic success.

  • A composed leader is needed in a crisis. "this too shall pass...the constitutional challenges will pass."

  • From Fiamē's experience as a matai, patience (onosa'i) is a core value and must be exercised daily.

  • Having clarity on complex issues and understanding their depth, at times, requires detachment.

  • Work-life balance means working hard but ensuring plenty of downtime, and 'me time' means "be with people who are good for you, whom you enjoy, and who you do different things with" (Fiamē takes part in women's bible studies as a hobby and Salsa Dancing!)

  • Finally, "You need your besties! your go-to friends to back you."

Fiamē's advice for Pacific women:

  • Do your research to find the right networks for you; these could be online platforms or face-to-face, where you engage with like-minded people.

  • Be prepared to create your own groups, spaces and forums and start engaging.

  • Find the courage, and be respectful; as a Pacific woman, it's amazing what a smile and a respectful approach can do to open doors.

  • Consider what The 'Va' means for you as a Samoan/Pasifika woman in NZ; what role do you have to play? And how can you give back to the Samoan/Pacific community?

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