Former Labour MP for Mangere, Associate Minister for Pacific Island Affairs, Afisivalu Taito Phillip Field who reportedly passed away this morning at age 68 is being remembered as a leader, trailblazer for the Samoa community and for his contribution to the Pasifika community.
Messages on social media have expressed their condolences and thanks to Mr. Field for his work and leadership in the Pasifika community of Aotearoa New Zealand.
Taito entered politics in the early 1990s and became the first Pasifika person to become a member of Parliament in New Zealand in 1993. In 1996, he succeeded former Prime Minister David Lange’s seat in Mangere where he remained MP until 2008. He held the position of Minister outside Cabinet with the portfolios of Associate Minister for Pacific Island Affairs, Associate Minister for Social Development and Employment, and Associate Minister for Justice. In 2008 he ran as an independent after being expelled by the New Zealand Labour Party and ran under the New Zealand Pacific Party. He lost the seat to Labour’s Aupito William Sio.
In 2007 Taito appeared in court on 15 counts of bribery and 25 of attempting to pervert the course of justice. In 2009 he was found guilty of 26 of the charges and sentenced to six years imprisonment. He was paroled from prison in 2011.
Born in Samoa, Taito is being remembered for his faith and work, not only for his work in the electorates of Otara and Mangere but his work supporting Pasifika across the country. He is also being remembered for his work to support the Pacific component in the Arts Council in the 1990s.
Former National MP and former Minister for Pacific Peoples Peseta Sam Lotu-Iiga paid his respects on social media. Peseta says,” he served our country well and especially the people of Mangere and Otara. He was our first Samoan and Pacific MP in New Zealand.”
Taito is survived by his wife Maxine and their extended family.
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