The Pacific at Waikato team is here to provide strategic leadership, direction, programs, advice, and resources that can support staff as they help Pacific learners achieve success. You can email the team at

Assistant Vice-Chancellor Pacific — Dr Keakaokawai Varner Hemi

Through her mother, Keaka is Kanaka Maoli, Kanaka 'Ōiwi from Na 'Ohana o Kalama of La'ie, Hawai'i. Through her father, she is Cherokee from Boyd Mountain in Northwest Arkansas ... and a few other things.  

Keaka is a Waikato alumna, having done her Bachelor of Laws with first-class honours and her PhD in Law at the University. She taught and was the Associate Dean Undergraduate at Te Piringa prior to being appointed as the first Assistant Vice-Chancellor Pacific at the University of Waikato in February 2019.  

The AVC Pacific role provides strategic leadership for the university's ongoing efforts to improve success for Pacific learners, staff, families and communities through tertiary education. The AVC Pacific is the chair of the Pacific Strategic Committee, sits on other committees and boards, and works closely with the University Leadership Group, Research and Enterprise, Human Resources, and Business Intelligence and Analytics.  

The AVC Pacific looks after the Lo'i Pacific Research and Innovation Hub and Te Pōkingā Ngaru programme.

Read more about Keaka's leadership, teaching and research experience on her staff profile.

Dau ni Talitali | Pacific Engagement Manager — Sianiti Nakabea Bulisala

Sia holds conjoint LLB and BBA (Fin) degrees majoring in accounting from the University of Waikato. As a proud alumna of UoW, she is passionate about learner success and empowering young people and businesses.

Sia is actively involved with national and local Fijian community organisations and initiatives, including Fijian Language Week. Sia has extensive experience in designing and delivering student success initiatives, student engagement, social media and marketing, student leadership development, and Pacific education research.

The name of the Dau ni Talitali Pacific Engagement Manager has been gifted by the Fijian community. The name refers to a master weaver, in this case, a weaver of people. The role is focused on connecting Pacific learners and their families and communities with learning, culture and community on campus. The role leads out for the AVC Pacific team on cultural events, connections with high schools, pastoral care, social media and the website. This role works closely with the Student Services, Future Students and Marketing teams.

The Dau ni Talitali looks after the Tupaia Challenge, 'Āiga on Campus, and Imua Initiative. She also supervises the FoE High School STEM Navigators programme.

Read more about Sia's leadership, teaching and research experience on her staff profile.

Ms Sianiti Bulisala

Dau Ni Talitali - Pacific Engagement Manager

Taki Ako Pacific Teaching and Learning Lecturer — Dr Hennah Steven

Hennah is originally from the Eastern Highlands Province of Papua New Guinea. Through her mother, Hennah is connected to the mountainous people of the Faiyantina area, Henganofi District, and through her father, she identifies with the peace-loving people of Korofeigu in the low-lying plains of Bena Unggai District. 

The name of the Taki Ako role has been gifted by our Tongan community. The name refers to a teacher of teachers, in this case, a teacher and researcher who will support Pacific learners and various teachers to improve Pacific learner success.

The Taki Ako looks after cultural legacy-based learner success and leadership initiatives, namely the Calling the Island, Challenge the Horizon and E Tasi Teaching Toolkit programmes. Hennah is our lead on first-year Study Advising and she works closely with the Centre for Tertiary Teaching and Learning and the Library to develop culturally responsive programmes in teaching and learning.

The Taki Ako also supervises the Palu Undergraduate Navigators programme.

Read more about Hennah's leadership, teaching and research experience on her staff profile.

'Atia'e Su'esu'ega Faale A'oa'oga mo Pasefika Research Fellow

The name of the 'Atia'e role has been gifted by Rev Fuifui Te'evale Sr, a faife'au in our Waikato Samoan community and Fuifui Te'evale Jr. The name refers to a grower, in this case, the grower of our Pacific research space. The role is fundamentally aimed at growing Pacific research, researchers and research excellence at the UoW. 

This includes:

  • Supporting Pacific researchers, students and staff, in their journeys and development as researchers.
  • Developing the Lo'i Pacific Research and Innovation Hub, a taro patch-like space for bringing diverse stakeholders, including researchers, funders and community partners, together to create an expanded linked innovation that produces substantive research and outcomes for Pacific people.
  • Supporting Pacific researchers in securing needed funding.

FoE High School STEM Navigators

UoW students from HECS act as Navigators for the high school students in the FoE High School STEM Programme — sharing their love of their cultures, presenting information on degrees and programmes, talking about their own experience, and designing and leading learning.  

Their goal is to enhance interest in and knowledge of STEM study and careers amongst Pacific high school students and their parents through weekly shared kai and learning activities based on cultural legacies of STEM.

Palu Undergraduate Navigators 

Senior Pacific students act as Palu (or master navigators) helping other students navigate study, services and opportunities. Each of the four divisions, FMIS and Tauranga have been assigned a Navigator. They provide culturally responsive, one-on-one support for Pacific undergraduate students and connect them with central and divisional support and resources.  

For more on Pacific research, researchers and research excellence, visit Lo‘i Pacific Research and Innovation Hub page.

The wider aiga: Pacific staff and teams across the University

Our Pacific at Waikato team works closely with a much wider aiga at the University who are all committed to helping our learners succeed. 

Accessibilities and Health Services

Accommodation and Halls of Residence

Arts, Law, Psychology and Social Sciences — ALPSS

Naomi Russell

School Manager

Naomi is the School Manager of Te Kura Whatu Oho Mauri the School of Psychology; co-ordinating and overseeing all administrative and management functions within the kura in liaison with the Head of School.

Careers and employment

Ms Heather Lowery-Kappes

Career Development Consultant

Heather is currently President of the Career Development Association of New Zealand (CDANZ) where she works as an advocate for career development in Aotearoa. She sits on a number of government advisory panels in this role and has supported programmes and development of the Direct Career Guidance service partnering with TEC currently available through MS…

Health, Engineering, Computing and Science — HECS

Ms Rewa Gilbert

Maori Student Success Coordinator

Ms Le Vonne Pilott

Maori Student Success Coordinator

I have worked in the tertiary education environment for over ten years. My current role is Work Placement &amp; Study Advisor for Health Engineering Computing and Science. <br />My strength is establishing and maintaining relationships with internal and external stakeholders, understanding respective objectives and working towards mutual successes. My s…

International students

Office of the Vice-Chancellor

PhD and Doctoral

Mrs Tanya Mete

Higher Research Degrees Manager

Tanya joined the University of Waikato in 2014 and is the Manager of the Higher Research Degrees Team in Te Mata Kairangi School of Graduate Research. <br /><br />The Higher Research Degrees Team administers the enrolments and candidature of all Doctoral and Master of Philosophy students. In collaboration with support services across the campus, the High…


Te Huataki Waiora | School of Health

Dr Apo Aporosa

Research Associate

Aporosa currently holds the post of 𝘋𝘶𝘳𝘶𝘷𝘦𝘴𝘪 – 𝘉𝘶𝘭𝘢 𝘯𝘪 𝘗𝘢𝘴𝘪𝘷𝘪𝘬𝘢 (Senior Lecturer in Pacific Health) at Te Huataki Waiora School of Health.<br /><br />He is a 2022 Fulbright Scholar recipient and has also held a New Zealand Health Research Council Sir Thomas Davis Te Patu Kite Rangi Ariki Fellowship (2019) and New Zealand Health Research Council Pacific p…
Mrs Mihi Nemani

Senior Lecturer in Sport Development

Kia ora and Talofa. I am of Samoan-Māori descent and have over 20 years experience of lecturing and teaching sport, fitness and recreation topics with particular focus on sport sociology and exercise prescription. I have had many experiences in sport that range from competing internationally and winning world titles in bodyboarding and weightlifting, o…
Associate Professor Sione Vaka

Poutumatua Pasifika Tausisoifua Associate Professor

Te Piringa | Faculty of Law

Mr Joel Manyam

Senior Lecturer

Joel Manyam graduated with a Diploma in Education from the University of the South Pacific, and was awarded the Narseys Limited Gold Medal in Education for being the outstanding graduate in his year.<br /><br />He was previously a high school teacher and later graduated LLB Cant and has practised in the areas of commercial and property law. His other wor…
Ms Unaisi Narawa


Unaisi Narawa joined Te Piringa Faculty of Law in 2023 as a Lecturer in Law and Convenor of Pacific Engagement. She is of Fijian, Solomon Island and Tongan descent. Unaisi studied law at the University of the South Pacific (USP) where she completed undergraduate and post graduate studies in law and tertiary teaching. Prior to joining the Faculty of Law, …

Te Puna Ako | Centre for Tertiary Teaching and Learning

Mr Wiliame Daveta
Dr Shailesh Lal


I am a Lecturer at Te Puna Ako - Centre for Tertiary Teaching &amp; Learning (CeTTL). My area of specialisation lies in Teaching &amp; Learning support especially for Pacific students and academics.
Ms Roshila Singh

Student Learning Developer

I am a Learning Developer with Student Learning, Te Puna Ako - Centre for Tertiary Teaching and Learning (CeTTL).

Te Raupapa Waikato Management School

Associate Professor Umesh Sharma

Associate Professor

Umesh Sharma is an Associate Professor of Accounting. He holds a Bachelor of Arts and Master of Arts in Accounting from the University of the South Pacific (Fiji), Graduate Certificate in Management from the University of Southern Queensland (Australia) and a Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Waikato. Umesh's professional qualifications incl…

Te Whare Pukapuka | The Library

Mr Ammon Apiata

Maori and Indigenous Research Support Advisor

Ammon Apiata (Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Toarangatira, Ngāti Koata) is a part of the Open Research team based in the Library. The OR team is tasked with advancing the University’s open research culture and supporting researchers to make their scholarly work open and accessible. In addition to this, Ammon’s role includes implementing and advising on Māori data sovere…
Dr Rangihurihia McDonald

Pou Arahi

Ko Tainui te waka.<br />Ko Kāwhia te moana.<br />Ko Ngāti Maniapoto te iwi.<br />Ko Ngāti Kinohaku, ko Ngāti Te Kanawa, ko Ngāti Peehi ngā hapū.<br />Ko Te Korapatū, ko Marokopa ngā marae.<br />Ko Rangihurihia McDonald tōku ingoa.<br /><br />Dr. Rangihurihia McDonald is currently the Pou Ārahi (Cultural Advisor) at Te Whare Pukapuka, The University of Wa…

Work-Integrated Learning and Impact Lab

Dr Gail Hutcheson

Research Associate

After fifteen years international travel, Gail came back to Aotearoa New Zealand to begin her journey at The University of Waikato in 2003. Gail completed her PhD in geography in 2014 and followed this with five years as a teaching fellow. Her research interests are the social impacts of disasters and climate change, specializing in relocation. <br /><br…

Te Pokinga Ngaru Leadership Programme

The culturally responsive Te Pokinga Ngaru Leadership Programme is designed to empower Pacific staff in their leadership journeys and careers through workshops, mentoring, professional development, ASP, GSSR and PBRF support, leadership building, and well-being thinking.