Waka Hourua

National Leadership Group

The  Group will provide a distinctive and informed voice for Māori and Pasifika suicide prevention, and monitor all aspects of the programme as it contributes to the growing evidence of what works for Māori and Pasifika.


Our Chair

Professor Sir Mason Durie (Rangitane, Ngāti Kauwhata) completed a medical degree at the University of Otago before undertaking postgraduate training in psychiatry at McGill University. Subsequently he became Director of Psychiatry at the Palmerston North Hospital, a Member of the Australian and New Zealand College of Psychiatry (1971), and a Fellow of the College (in 1979). In 1988 he was appointed Professor and Head of Te Pūtahi-ā-Toi, School of Māori Studies at Massey University and was appointed to the Chair of Māori Research and Development in 2002. Mason has retired from Massey University and continues to provide leadership and support to Te Rau Matatini. 

Our Members

Phyllis Tangitu (Te Arawa, Ngāti Kahungunu and Mataatua) is Lakes DHB General Manager Māori Health. Phyllis lives in Rotorua. She has worked in the health sector for 20 years and provides leadership in Lakes DHB Māori Health and has a key role in supporting and maintaining the relationship with the iwi of Te Arawa and Ngāti Tūwharetoa.

Dr Francis Agnew is a pioneer in the development of Pasifika mental health services in New Zealand and the wider Pasifika region.  He serves as Clinical Director for Waitemata DHB and leads Takaga a Fohe Pasifika mental health services. Francis is a New Zealand born Cook Islands psychiatrist and specialist in mental health and addiction issues. He has provided leadership in the development of Pasifika mental health services in the wider Auckland region, and has served on many government and agency reviews, committees and task forces. Francis has been very involved in delivering mental health services in the Cook Islands and Samoa.

Tuwhakairiora (Tu) Williams (Whakatohea, Ngaitai, Ngāti Porou) chairs the Electoral College of the Māori Television Service, and is a board member of Amnesty International New Zealand. As principal associate of Williams & Associates and Chief Executive of Te Kāhui Mana Ririki Trust. He has a background in the education and health sectors, and has been involved in research projects including the impact of globalisation on Māori and Pasifika Island communities in Aotearoa New Zealand.

Usufonoimanu Peseta Betty Sio is the CEO and founding member of the Pasifika Islands Safety and Prevention Project supporting Pasifika women, men and children who have experienced violence or are at risk from harm.  Betty established the Pasifika Island Women’s Project in 1983 and it became instrumental in the development of programmes for Pasifika women at nationally and regionally.

As an advocate for Pasifika women and their families she represents the Samoan community on many national committees as well as working locally for Pasifika and women’s groups. Betty holds two Matai/High Chief Titles, a Bachelor of Social Work, is a Professional Supervisor, a well-known activist on Te Tiriti o Waitangi issues, and is a proud Samoan leader.

Ministerial Representatives

The group also has Ministry of Health attendees such as Dr John Crawshaw, Director and Chief Advisor of Mental Health, who are only observers, working together with the froup to ensure seamless activities across suicide prevention, mental health and any activities aligned with the risk factors.  Such as: local government policy development for local communities - e.g. gambling and alcohol outlets; or issues around connecting suicide prevention activities to Whānau Ora activities etc. Their purpose is to be the voice in places and spaces that need decision makers at the highest level.  

Waka Hourua Leadership Group Meeting 7th April 2016 L-R: Professor Mason Durie (Chairman), Peseta Betty Sio, Mapihi Raharuhi, Tuwhakairiora Williams. Front: Monique Faleafa, Dr John Crawshaw, Denise Kingi-Uluave, Marama Parore Absent: Dr Francis Agnew, Hilda Faasalele.


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