Superintendent Willi Fanene (Fata Willi) was welcomed to Wellington this week in his new role as National Partnerships Manager for Pacific Peoples for New Zealand Police.
An ‘ava ceremony was held at the Royal New Zealand Police College for him in true Samoan tradition.
The 44-year police veteran has been based at Police National Headquarters (PNHQ) since May, where his fits into the new structure within Police Māori Pacific and Ethnic Services. His position sits alongside Superintendent Anaru Pewhairangi, managing Māori, and Superintendent Rakesh Naidoo overseeing Ethnic partnerships.
“It’s not lost on me that I don’t have that long to go in Police so I am motivated to achieve as much as possible and lay a solid foundation for the next person who will take over from me,” Superintendent Fanene (pictured) said.
Welcoming Superintendent Fanene to his role, along with many members of the Pasifika community was NZ Police Commissioner Andrew Coster.
“Over time, we have been building our capability in the Pasifika space. it’s a pleasure to have Fata Willi at the higher level,” the Commissioner said.
Superintendent Fanene witnessed the formation of New Zealand’s first Pacific gang – the King Cobras – and then later the political group, the Polynesian Panthers. As a child he experienced the impact of the immigration crackdown known as the ‘dawn raids’ when he and his school friends were often stopped by Police and asked for proof of identity.
But he says it’s the influence of gangs that inspire him to help youth today – he believes it’s vital that they are steered into a better life for the future.
The ‘ava ceremony held at the college was led by the Leota family.
“It was a privilege for my family to represent our organisation in the ‘ava ceremony for the newly appointed Superintendent Fata Willi Fanene,” said Su’a Noema Leota, Manager of Human Resources at PNHQ.
“The ʻava ceremony is one of the most important customs of the Samoa Islands. It is a ritual in which a ceremonial drink is shared to mark important occasions in Samoan society. It was an honour to be part of that,” she said.