Library and Information Association of New Zealand Aotearoa
Te Rau Herenga O Aotearoa

Keynote Speakers

We will be adding information about international speakers here over the next couple of weeks. 


Selina Tusitala Marsh
Monique Faleafa

Damon Salesa

Atawhai Tibble



Selina Tusitala Marsh, Pasifika poet-scholar and current New Zealand Poet Laureate

Selina Tusitala Marsh

Selina Tusitala Marsh is a Pasifika poet-scholar and is the current New Zealand Poet Laureate (2017-2019).  She was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit in 2019. As the 2016 Commonwealth Poet she wrote and performed a poem for Queen Elizabeth II at Westminster Abbey. Her first collection, Fast Talking PI (2009), won the Jesse Mckay Best First Book in the NZ Book Awards, her second collection, Dark Sparring (2013) was critically acclaimed and positioned her in 'the vanguard of contemporary Pacific Literature' and 'one of the most important poetic voices of her generation' (Edmeades 2013), while a third collection of poetry, Tightrope (2017) was long-listed for the NZ Ockham Book Awards. An Associate Professor in the English Department at the University of Auckland, Selina teaches Pacific Literature, convenes its largest course in Creative Writing, and supervises poets in its Masters of Creative Writing Programme. Selina has led over 100 workshops for community and professional groups, spoken and mentored at over 40 schools and is in demand as a keynote speaker and performer. She delivered the prestigious annual New Zealand Book Council lecture for 2016, was made Honorary Literary Fellow in the New Zealand Society of Authors’ annual Waitangi Day Honours for 2017.  Selina hosted an event with former President Barack Obama where they spoke about the importance of poetry in the world. Selina is working on Tokotoko Tales: A Poetic Memoir capturing her two years as New Zealand’s first Pasifika poet and the difference her difference makes. Mophead, her a graphic mini-memoir, will be published in 2019.

Relevant links:



Monique Faleafa, CEO, Le Va

Monique Faleafa

As CEO, Monique Faleafa ensures the purpose of Le Va is clear: to support Pasifika families and communities to unleash their full potential. Le Va provides national programmes for New Zealand in suicide prevention, mental health and addiction workforce development, violence prevention, mental health promotion, disability support services, public health, cultural competency training and holistic wellbeing.


Monique is also a registered clinical psychologist and has over 20 years’ experience in the not-for-profit sector, Pasifika communities, mental health, research and social services. She also contributes at governance levels for New Zealand, currently serving on two crown agencies as Deputy Chair of the Health Promotion Agency, and the Health Research Council of New Zealand. Monique served on the New Zealand Psychologists Board for 9 years, contributes to Ministry of Health committees and policy, and is a founding member of Pasifikology – New Zealand’s national Pasifika psychology network. In 2016, Monique was awarded as a Member of the NZ Order of Merit and a finalist in the New Zealand Westpac Women of Influence awards. She has recently featured in leadership books such as Leaders Like You, and Womankind. Internationally, she is a mental health advisor to Australia’s National Rugby League; is an Alumni of the commonwealth Emerging Pacific Leaders Dialogue; and an Associate Member of Global Women.


Relevant Media video:


Relevant Resources links:




Associate Professor Damon Salesa, Pro Vice-Chancellor – Pacific, University of Auckland


Damon Salesa is a scholar of Pacific politics, history, technology, culture and society.  He is a prizewinning author of works on the Pacific, New Zealand race and politics.  He has written or edited a number of books including Tangata o le Moana (2012) and Island Time: New Zealand’s Pacific Futures (2017). His 2012 book Racial Crossings won the Ernest Scott Prize.  He is a graduate of the University of Auckland, and completed his doctorate at Oxford University where he was a Rhodes Scholar. He taught for a decade at the University of Michigan, before joining Auckland University where he was previously head of Pacific Studies. A Samoan born and raised in Glen Innes, he hails from Satapuala and Falealupo. He became Auckland’s Pro Vice Chancellor Pacific in November 2018, the first Pacific Pro Vice Chancellor in New Zealand.




Atawhai Tibble, Chief Advisor (Māori), Social Investment Agency


Atawhai Tibble is the Chief Advisor Māori at the Social Investment Agency. He is of Ngāti Porou, Te Whānau ā Apanui, Tuwharetoa, and Ngāti Raukawa ki te Tonga descent. Atawhai has a law degree from Victoria University, is a fluent speaker of Māori, and is a Māori cultural expert. But he is also a creative. An accomplished kapa haka performer, singer and songwriter, he travelled to open the Te Māori exhibition in Chicago in 1986, and was part of the national kapa haka that performed at the World Expo in Seville Spain in 1992. In 1994, he co-wrote a song on the Once were Warriors Soundtrack – So Much Soul, which he performed with his band Gifted and Brown. He also cowrote and performed te reo Maori songs on the Tangiora 2 album with his band Maia.


Atawhai has a background in Māori development. He has done most of his work in the public sector. He has worked as an advisor in the Beehive for two Ministers, for the NZ Treasury, the State Services Commission, Statistics NZ, the Ministry of Education, Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori, and Te Puni Kōkiri. If you asked Atawhai what is at the heart of his career, it’s two things: doing the Mihi AND the Mahi. In other words, he enjoys helping government agencies not only respect Māori values and protocols, but integrate this respect into the work what we do with Māori.


If you check out his Linkedin profile, and his posts, you will see that Atawhai has a gift for explaining this in really layperson’s terms. For example, his 5 Wai’s on Māori engagement helps organisations connect with Māori, on purpose, in a culturally respectful way. Over 20,000 people have downloaded this. Likewise, his post on Tikanga Tips offers simple, practical and friendly advice to beginners on how to connect with Māori in a positive and respectful manner. Underpinning his skill set is a huge intellect, an even bigger empathy, and a pragmatism that he says comes from his Ngāti Porou father.


Based in Wellington, he is married to Salli, who is a UN diplomat. They are the proud parents of Kaea (17) and Manaaki (15). The Tibbles are a Hurricanes whānau!







Share this on