Building strong futures, together.

Squiggle

You have a heritage you’re proud of, and ambitious plans for your future - and so do we.

Connected through shared culture, values and vision for our communities, Pacific Business Trust is made up of a team of experienced, knowledgeable professionals and network partners who are passionate about supporting business growth and success in the Pacific community. Established in 1985, we’ve already helped thousands of Pacific business owners access new opportunities and realise their goals.

Pacific people are strong, determined and resilient, but your journey as a business owner is not one you have to take alone. Through education, financial support and mentorship, we want to ensure that business owners like you have access to the tools they need to confidently launch, grow and scale their business.

Together we can create thriving businesses that celebrate our strengths and further support the communities we love.

Sunset

Fast-track your business growth and success with the right support behind you.

Meet the Team

Pelenato Sakalia

Chief Executive Officer

Pelenato began his career in central government, working for the State Services Commission. He progressed into organisational development, before focusing on transformational programme management. For the past 20 years, he has operated within economic development, spending time within the private sector and undertaking advisory work within Government.

Tracey Smith

Acting General Manager, Service Delivery

Tracey has an extensive leadership career, most recently, as Regional Commissioner for North and West Auckland at the Ministry of Social Development (MSD) where she has spent over 30 years working in variety of roles, including leading the Central Processing Unit for 20 years. Tracey oversees the overall delivery of the Pacific Business Trust’s core programmes and services, as well as the implementation of the budget and operational plan. Tracey’s expertise in business growth will help to ensure that high standards are maintained and that value is being delivered to New Zealand businesses through our programmes and services strategy.

John Faitala

General Manager Programmes, Services & Clients

John has extensive experience across central government agencies and the private sector in Niue, Australia, and New Zealand. As the Programme Manager at the Pacific Business Trust, John brings his unique experience and insights framed within Pacific culture to set up the new programmes and services offerings.

Christian Tukutama

Auckland Business Advisor

Christian has a diverse range of experience, having recently joined the Pacific Business Trust after 10 years of service in the Royal New Zealand Army. With a wealth of operational and leadership experience, Christian has a passion for helping businesses realise their full potential and growth ambitions. Christian has a conjoint degree from the University of Auckland in Commerce and Arts, majoring in Management and Commercial Law, and Sociology and Philosophy. Outside of work he enjoys health and fitness as well as engaging with local community and sports groups.

Tracey Alenepi

AUCKLAND BUSINESS ADVISOR

Tracey joined the Pacific Business Trust in May 2021 and has enjoyed leveraging her wealth of experience to support businesses and help them flourish. Her role as a business advisor is supporting Pasifika business owners to achieve their goals for the business. Her primary focus is to ensure that Pasifika business owners are empowered to seek out opportunities for growth, to be creative and challenge their own mindsets so that their businesses thrive. Outside of work, Tracey enjoys spending time with her husband and their 4 beautiful daughters.

Mercedes Brown

Business Process and Systems Manager

Mercedes studied a Bachelor of Arts in Japanese and Anthropology at the University of Auckland and worked in retail before moving into a Business Coordinator role at Pacific Business Trust. Mercedes is part of a New Zealand Cook Islands Youth Advisory Committee, has recently joined the Pink Shirt Day Advisory Group for Mental Health Foundation and is involved with family enterprise cooperatives based in South Auckland.

Fatu Suisala

Service Provider Network Manager

Born in New Zealand, his roots trace back to Samoa and the Solomon Islands. Fatu brings Relationship management and Banking experience. Prior to joining the Pacific Business Trust, he was part of a large international banking organisation where he managed a high-value portfolio of clients and developed new business opportunities. He is passionate about helping Pasifika people and communities to thrive, and believes that this can be achieved through leveraging off Pasifika culture, values, and heritage. Fatu holds a Bachelor of Business (majoring in Economics and Sales) qualification from AUT University.

Lesley Vehekite

CHRISTCHURCH BUSINESS ADVISOR

Lesley has extensive accounting experience, bringing over 17 years of industry experience to her business advisory role in Christchurch. Prior to joining the Pacific Business Trust, Lesley leveraged her accounting expertise within Pasifika communities as General Manager at an NGO in Invercargill. With a passion for helping people and seeing their businesses grow, Lesley also enjoys spending time volunteering within her local community. Outside of work, Lesley loves nature and spending time with her family, 6 children and growing grandchildren.

Faavaoa Kerr

Wellington Business Advisor

Faavaoa is the Business Advisor for the Wellington office. Faavaoa worked in the middle east for 10 years working in corporate governance as an operations manager and for a multi-national as a marketing consultant. She also has experience in project management and business development managing commercial and not-for-profit operations in the Middle East, Africa and Europe for government entities, conglomerates and NGO’s. Faavaoa has a passion for providing support and guidance for Pacific people who are looking to start their own business or grow an existing venture. Outside of work she enjoys health and fitness and travel.

Vahanoa Vea

Corporate Services Manager

Vahanoa is an entrepreneur who brings a variety of skills in administration and human resource management to her role as an Office Manager. She is passionate about strategic objectives and motivated to learn new skills that she can apply in further supporting the Pacific business community. Vahanoa has a Business Human Resources and Management degree, and brings with her skills and experience in a variety of business sectors.

Verona Ah Ching Parker

Wellington Business Advisor

Verona has 20+ years of extensive experience in sales, marketing, media, public relations, and communications, spanning her previous roles in government, civil society, and corporate and private entities in Samoa and New Zealand. She enjoys continuing her service to Samoan and Pacific communities with PBT by aiding the economic empowerment and development of small to medium pacific business owners who have made New Zealand their home away from home. Outside of work, Verona enjoys reading, attempting a gym workout, and volunteering for charity organisations. Her greatest joyis being close to her children who are undertaking their college and tertiary studies and being their parental support in their life endeavours.

Meet the Board

Tevita Funaki

Chairman

Tevita was named Chairman of the Pacific Business Trust Board in July 2019. Tevita is also Chief Executive Officer of The Fono. Born in Auckland and raised in Tonga, he has ancestral links to Halalo, ‘Uvea, Lotofaga, Samoa, Java, Indonesia and Fiji and has established networks and relationships with our Pasifika communities across New Zealand.

Maria Fuata

Board Member

Maria was born and raised in Fiji. She is proudly of Rotuman heritage and is actively involved in the New Zealand Rotuman Fellowship. Maria has a wealth of experience in senior financial management roles in the not-for-profit space in New Zealand following four and half years as a Senior Auditor with PricewaterhouseCoopers in Suva, Fiji.

Samuelu (Sam) Sefuiva

Board Member

Sam has over 30 years’ experience in public policy, strategic and business advice, cultural and economic development and executive leadership. Sam has a strong professional and personal interest in the Pacific region particularly in human rights, social enterprise and public policy.

Leaupepe Rachel Karalus

Board Member

Of Samaon and New Zealand European descent, Rachel was born in Apia, Western Samoa and has links on Upolu to Fasito’outa, Luatuanu’u, Aleipata, Tulaele and on Savaii to Salelologa, Safotu and Falealupe. She is also Chief Executive of K’aute Pasifika Trust, a charitable trust providing health, social, education and other wellbeing services to people from all backgrounds using Pacific models of care.

Muaausa Pele Walker MNZM

Board Member

Pele's professional experience includes Chief Executive and senior management roles in human rights, employment and dispute resolution and she has held several governance and government advisory positions as a member of the Pacific community. She has an MBA and BA (Hons), a post-graduate Diploma of Business Studies in dispute resolution and is an accredited mediator with Resolution Institute. Pele is of Samoan descent.

Hiueni Nuku

Board Member

Hiueni was born and raised in Tonga and has ancestral links to Ha’utu, Fahefa and Ha’ano. He migrated to New Zealand in 1986 and has four children. With over 20 years experience in leadership, Hiueni currently manages the Porirua Union and Community Health Service in Cannons Creek and has been a Church Minister for the Methodist Church of New Zealand since 2009. Hiueni has strong connections to the Pacific community across New Zealand through his involvements in a number of different community roles.

Paul Retimanu

Board Member

Of Samoan descent, Paul has led many successful entities in the hospitality sector over the past 30 years. He has extensive board experience both in the private sector and community, and is focused on better outcomes for Pacific and Māori rangitahi in business entrepreneurship and education. Paul is also a member of the Treasury’s Talanoa Group, comprised of Pacific business leaders and employers.

Sunset

Fast-track your business growth and success with the right support behind you.