The Pacific Community’s (SPC) newly appointed Deputy Director-General of Operations and Integration, Maria Fuata was accorded an i-Taukei cultural protocol to welcome her in her new role.
Hosted by the SPC Staff in Suva, the welcome ceremony reflected her Rotuman heritage and a recognition of her appointment surrounded by her family and SPC colleagues.
Officiating at the ceremony, SPC’s Executive Principal Adviser, Vuki Buadromo said this was a celebration time: “We recognise and applaud the significance of Ms Fuata’s appointment. It is a testament to the great recognition of the invaluable contributions made by women leaders within our organisation and the wider Pacific region.”
DDG Fuata grew up in Fiji and has links to Juju, Pepjei and Itumuta villages. Maria has spent the last 20 years in New Zealand, where she has been an active and passionate advocate in supporting Pasifika communities whilst working to preserve Rotuman indigenous languages and cultural practices for future generations.
DDG Fuata has extensive experience in leadership, corporate services and financial management which she brings to the role to drive effective and supportive operations management to support SPC and all of our Members in achieving our development priorities.
We asked DDG Fuata to give us an insight into her past and where she sees the role and support to our Blue Pacific region.
Can you tell us more about yourself?
I am of Rotuman heritage, born and raised in Lautoka, and educated at St Thomas schools. I finished my schooling at Yat Sen Secondary School in Fiji before attending the University of South Pacific (USP) and starting as a graduate auditor with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Suva until mid-2003. My family and I migrated to New Zealand soon after and have called Aotearoa home for the last 20 years.
Apart from juggling family, work, church, and winter sports, I have been actively involved in our NZ Rotuman community, advocating for the preservation of our Rotuman language and culture as a taonga (gift) that we have the responsibility to learn from our knowledge holders and to teach our next generation. Working closely with the New Zealand government, I have had the privilege of serving in governance roles pushing for economic prosperity for our Pacific peoples in Aotearoa through entrepreneurship and workforce skills development, as well as promoting Pacific languages and stories through a media network that is uniquely Pacific-led.
Serving in the Rotuman and Pacific community has been a calling and an honour. I am proud and excited for our next generation of young Pacific leaders to take the helm.
Can you tell us about your journey leading up to your current role as the Deputy Director-General of Operations and Integration at the Pacific Community (SPC)?
This role as DDG of Operations and Integration has been the culmination of everything I have done in Fiji and New Zealand across just over two decades, from my professional space as a senior finance and management executive to governance roles through to my community work for Pacific across Aotearoa and the region. Mentored by courageous and passionate leaders and elders along the way, I have learnt to take my ‘whole self’ - my rich lived experience as a professional executive, a community leader, and a Pacific woman - to the different spaces I influence, and this role at SPC embodies that. My experience spans programme management, financial and people management, corporate services through to organisational change and strategic leadership and governance, anchored on my heart for community and a thriving Pacific people for future generations.
“I am deeply grateful, humbled and excited to take this opportunity. As a daughter of Rotuma, a daughter of Fiji and a daughter of the Pacific this is a proud moment. To add to the legacy that has been built over 75 years, we have a strong foundation on our rich Pacific culture and values, our love for our people, and our combined lived experiences with a shared vision of making a meaningful difference for our future generations, our communities, our people and our beautiful island homes,” said DDG Fuata.
How do you envision your role contributing to the overall goals and mission of the region?
Building on the legacy of over 75 years at SPC, I hope to contribute to enhancing the institutional effectiveness of our organisation, with a focus on the One SPC goal, as we look to integrate better, collaborate, and coordinate our resources and efforts across SPC as well as with our CROP agencies and stakeholders so we can ultimately better serve our members’ needs today, and in the future.
Ms Fuata holds a Master of Business Administration from the University of Auckland (New Zealand). She is also a graduate of the University of the South Pacific (Suva, Fiji) with a Bachelor of Arts with double majors in Accounting & Financial Management and Management & Public Administration.
She previously served as part of the Executive Leadership Team of the Hanga-aro-rau workforce development council, as Deputy Board Chair of the Pacific Media Network and as the Pacific Business Trust board member.