Where Peoples Connect

Who We Are

Pacific Trust Otago (PTO) is a charitable organisation based in Dunedin that provides support to Pacific communities in the Otago region. Our support services include: health, social, education and cultural which are available for our Pacific communities.

The primary focus of our organisation is to engage with and support activities to improve the well-being of Pacific people. Also providing communities with health, social, education and cultural support where applicable.

who we are our team

Our Mission

Pacific Trust Otago empowers Tangata Moana by drawing on Drua concepts of building belonging, nurturing people, strengthening community and navigating opportunities & challenges, so we are united in our journey.

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Our Vision

Tangata Moana Pacific in Otago are connected, resilient and flourishing guided by cultural values.

Our Values:

Maintaining and strengthening our Piri’anga (relationships) through our values:

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Help Us Continue Our Work

Some of our services operate through government funding from the Ministry of Health, the Ministry for Pacific Peoples and the Ministry of Social Development. There are other services that are funded through grants from our partner agencies and providers which help us operate.

To continue expanding our offerings and services, we need your help

Donate Here

The History Of PTO

Pacific Trust Otago (PTO) originated in Dunedin as the ‘Otago Pacific People’s Health Trust’ in 1999 in response to Pacific communities’ quest for better health care for Pacific people.

The community had felt as if their needs weren’t being met by the health system present at the time, insisting for better care. In 1999 a constitution was signed bringing together people of Pacific communities in Dunedin to establish the new ‘Otago Pacific People’s Health Trust’.

In 2003, the trust was registered as an incorporated society, allowing the organisation to begin delivering services for the community. Among the first services introduced in the early days of PTO were the Well-Child (Tamariki Ora) which is still operating today and Health Promotion services. At the time there were only three paid staff, the Manager, Wellchild Nurse and Health Promoter as well as three volunteers.

Pacific Trust Otago honours a pan-pacific approach to their services, where 9 ethnic groups are represented on PTO’s board. This came about from one of PTO’s founding Mama’s who insisted all Pacific nations were well represented in the organisation not just the larger Pacific groups.

The organisation has a governing body of representatives from 9 ethnic groups from the Pacific islands that make up the PTO board. Through its history, Pacific Trust Otago has occupied 5 different spaces: Filleul Street, King Edward Street, Hillside Road, South Road and our most recent premise McBride Street. With each different space, the organisation’s ability to provide for the community has continuously increased from the 2 original services, to the 10+ services and programmes we offer today.

who we are our team

Meet Our Senior Leadership Team

Fa'animo Elisara-Too

Chief Executive Officer

Warm Pacific greetings! Kia Ora! Talofa! Talofa lava!


Tulouna ia o outou paia ma o outou mamalu!


I was born in Samoa and moved with our aiga to Dunedin in1982. I hail from the villages of Salelologa, Leauvaa and Saoluafata. I am happily married to my wonderful husband and best friend Gaugau Ale Too from the villages of Luatuanu'u, Solosolo and Malie. Our son Jaxon is completing his Apprenticeship in his pursuit of becoming a qualified builder, and our daughter Danielle is completing college in Samoa.


My career has been enriched by the fusion of western systems, insights from community collaboration, consultation and engagements, and a practice that is underpinned by my faith and values of alofa (love) reciprocity and integrity. Working with our Team at PTO has extended and strengthened the platform where we can best utilize the resources and the services to achieve outcomes our wider Communities need. I am even more excited about the opportunity to lead our organization into the future, by setting the strategy and vision to ensure we are future-proofed, and that our people are empowered and have the necessary resources needed for them to provide top notch service delivery to our communities. It is vital for our organization to identify our communities’ needs as that is a key focus for me, to begin with the end in mind.

Fa’afetai lava.

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Maria Lucas

Director Strategy & Innovation

I am originally from Kiribati. My professional background is a trained social worker, a graduate of the University of Otago. At PTO my role is as a funding manager which involves getting resources to provide services for the community. My work at PTO is a very rewarding responsibility, even though I am not a frontline worker – I still see the people who come through and are part of the programmes for me it’s always about meeting the needs of our Pacific people, so in my work it’s rewarding as I can help contribute for our people.

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Finau Taungapeau

Director Health Services/ Dietitian

Malo e lelei. Ko hoku hingoa ko (my name is) Finau Kaunanga Taungapeau. I was born and raised in Tonga and came to New Zealand in the late 1980s for further education. I completed Year 13 at New Plymouth Girls High School. Then, I moved to Dunedin to study at the University of Otago, achieving qualifications in Dietetics, Human Nutrition and Teaching. I am currently working for Pacific Trust Otago (PTO) as a dietitian. Prior to that, I had worked for PTO as a Nutrition and Physical Activity (NPA) health promotion team leader for five years, NPA health promoter for seven years, Community Development Coordinator and Assistant Researcher for about two years. I am very passionate to encourage and support our Pacific people live a healthy and quality life by practicing healthy lifestyle daily, focusing on Nutrition and Physical Activity. I believe that “Food is medicine” David Perlmutter. In addition, improving our people’s health literacy through education so that they understand fully their health issues, medications and how to take better care of their health is equally important. I’m also the treasurer for the local Dunedin Tongan Community and have been the main coordinator for all events in the last 14 years. I am passionate to see the cultural intergenerational sharing of knowledge, skills and experiences to benefit our growing population for all Pacific. Furthermore, the young generation are connected to their culture, confident and proud of their identity.

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Keni Moeroa

Director Social & Cultural Services

I was born and raised on the island of Mangaia, one of the islands in the Cook Islands. In 1975, I came to Dunedin to seek a better job opportunity to support my family here and back on the Island. I work as a Whanau Ora navigator, supporting and assisting families who access the PTO service. The Whanau Ora service is about helping families to set goals and make changes to improve their lives and wellbeing. Part of my role is to advocate for the family to access other service providers to assist the needs of their family. I enjoyed working at PTO because the service is run by pacific for pacific people and the organization culture values and beliefs fit within my own values. My passion, sacrifice and commitment working with our pacific people is the key that I am still here serving the pacific community in Dunedin.

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Dr. Vanisha Mishra-Vakaoti

Director Research & Training

Contact Details

Nisa bula vinaka, my name is Vanisha Mishra-Vakaoti and I’m originally from Fiji. My role at the Pacific Trust Otago involves developing the Trusts ability to spearhead research and training with Pacific communities. I completed my PhD in 2014 at the Australian National University, with a background in Psychology and Social Research. I have worked predominately as a research and teaching consultant. My initial area of interest was children and young people, though this has extended to education, research processes and ethics.  I value the importance of people, processes and making connections. My work is centered around helping the Trust plan, conduct, and produce quality, engaged and inspired research, training and knowledge products. In doing so, there is greater impact for communities involved in research, and stronger research outputs for all parties.

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Elisapeta Quinette Tatupu

Director Finance & Administration

Talofa lava,  My name is Quinette Elisapeta Tatupu. I was born and raised in Samoa and only migrated to New Zealand in 2019. My parents were EFKS Church Ministers at Faleasi’u in Samoa and that was our home for 32 years. I am married to my high school sweetheart Liuuaina Tatupu, and we live in Milton. We are blessed with 4 children and are proud grandparents. I attended all my primary and college education in Samoa before I enrolled with the University of the South Pacific in Fiji where I graduated in 2000 with a Bachelor of Arts majoring in Economics, Management and Public Administration. I am currently pursuing my MBA at the University of Otago. From the years 2000-2019 I worked mainly in the financial sector - Ministry of Finance, Development Bank of Samoa, Samoa Housing Corporation, Samoa Commercial Bank Limited and 7 years managing a family business in retailing, car rentals and a charitable trust that supported early childhood and pre-schools around the country.  I was bestowed two chief titles – Lemalu from Safaatoa, Lefaga and Tuiloma from Sapunaoa, Falealili and with them came huge responsibilities, but like my parents, serving my family, my villages, the church, and the community was anything but new. My husband and I are passionate about developing and equipping young Pacific Islanders in whichever way possible.  It is an honour and privilege to work for the Pacific Trust Otago serving our communities and embracing cultural diversity here in the Otago and Southland regions.

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Meet Our Team

Sellina Sa'u

Whanau Ora Navigator/ Research Assistant

What I love about working for this organization is, working closely with Pasifika Individuals and families. Most of the time, I can relate to the challenges they’re experiencing. It’s very important for me to be that support person, to help direct and navigate their path to accessing the appropriate services they need. Most importantly, it’s about giving my time to serving our Pasifika people so they can have the same blessings others may have.

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Charlotte Kareroa

Community Capability Worker

My name is Charlotte Kareroa and I come from the beautiful island Mangaia in the Cook Islands. I love working with the community in our community and learning from them – especially with the seniors, I enjoy bonding with them. For me, it’s about learning from our community and what they have been through, truly connecting to them. Especially from different Pacific backgrounds, getting to connect with them through their language by speaking the basics of most Pacific languages gives me real joy in my job.

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Margaret Paia

Tupu Aotearoa Employment & Training Navigator (Southland)

Kia Orana, my name is Margaret Paia. I was born and raised in Dunedin after my late parents migrated from Mangaia in the Cook Islands during the 1970’s. I come from a large, loving, and supportive family in Dunedin. I am working towards a Bachelor of Social Work degree at Massey University. I currently reside in Invercargill where I am a Tupu Aotearoa Employment and Training Navigator. I am extremely passionate about seeing better and equitable socio-economic outcomes for all New Zealanders, but particularly the most vulnerable in society including Māori and Pacific Peoples. Pacific people often face many systemic barriers when engaging with different organizations. I believe that strong pastoral care, cultural understanding, and empathy are necessary components when serving our Pacific communities and their needs.

As a former Tupu Aotearoa client, I have experienced how awesome this akakoroanga (kaupapa) is and the amazing growth and opportunities that are possible. In the future, I desire to work in shaping social policy, so the voice of Pacific communities is expressed and advocated for. In my role I would like to contribute to seeing our Pacific people empowered to take the right steps towards their educational/training goals, aspirations, and career path. Often all they need is people who care, guidance and direction.

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Temukisa Poliko


Born and raised in Auckland, lived in Samoa for 10 years after and moved back to NZ, Dunedin in 2021. I am the Office Administrator at PTO.I enjoy the diversity of staff here, feels like I am in the Islands, being new down to Dunedin, I am meeting so many other Pacific Islanders here and do not feel so isolated.

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Tevita Vungamoeahi

Nurse Manager

My role here at PTO is the Covid Clinical Lead for the vaccination clinic and the Covid Response team.

I lead and look after the covid response team and taking care of any medical health related issues like doing the health assessment for the positive cases that get referred to us. I come from Tongoleleka in Haapai. One of the Islands in Tonga. Born and raised in Tonga.

What I enjoy about working with the community is seeing the difference that we make in the life of the people we serve and just being able to provide for the needs of our community.

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Regina Tautogi

Employment & Training Navigator

I enjoy working with colleagues that are passionate about helping and supporting our pacific people. Also, having the opportunity to network and engage with our pacific communities.Samoa (Villages - Ulutogia, Lalomanu & Tufulele)

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Rochelle Barton

Well Child Registered Nurse

I work as a well child nurse, I have been at the trust for 8 years. I visit families with tamariki aged 6 weeks to 3 years. I weigh and measure the babies and toddlers and offer support and education around many topics such as breastfeeding, safe sleep, nutrition, oral health and behavior, to ensure these tamariki grow and develop to their full potential. I enjoy working in the community and getting to know and watch families grow and children grow up. I love that at the trust we can offer additional support for families and a wraparound service to make sure the whole family is supported and cared for.

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Claire Wiechern

Well Child Registered Nurse

Where are you from: Nelson, NZ.What you enjoy most about working at PTO: I enjoy the great team and whanau atmosphere and how everyone is so passionate about supporting our communities.

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Andrew Rouvi

Pacific Business Growth Navigator

My name is Andrew Rouvi and I was born and raised in Dunedin where my parents migrated from Mangaia in the Cook Islands during the 1960s. I was brought up in the Cook Island community in Dunedin, mainly based at the First Church of Otago with the Cook Island and European church services. I work as the Pacific Business Growth Navigator at the Pacific Trust Otago. This role aims to support Pacific people in business, offering a pathway of people wanting to get in to business, and acts as mentorship/advisory role. My main work was done in sales, working for companies like Nestle New Zealand and Unilever Australasia in the lower North Island/South Island selling products into supermarkets across the country. I recently chose to relocate back home to Dunedin from the United Arab Emirates, where my family and I have spent the past 11 years living in Abu Dhabi.  In Abu Dhabi, I started a website for the local area, based on reaching out to expatriates moving into the area and began managing the website as a business. Over the past 6 years, I had been managing the Al Ain Amblers Rugby Football Club helping with day-to-day operations – helping to create more revenue streams for the club as well as managing the business side of the club. Eventually gaining more responsibility at the club.  I’m excited to work with the Pacific Island community in my hometown of Dunedin and use the skills acquired overseas and, in my career, to help Pacific people excel in business.

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