Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Tagata Pasifika

The Pacific voice on
New Zealand television
since 1987

Polynesian Panther Fuimaono Norman Tuiasau passes away

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Gladys Hartson | Senior Journalist

Long standing member of the Polynesian Panthers Legacy Trust, Fuimaono Norman Tuiasau, passed away this week aged 69.

The Polynesian Panthers took to social media to pay tribute to Fuimaono at the news of his passing on Thursday March 7th.

He was known for his work as a staunch advocate, mentor and educator teaching at Auckland’s De La Salle College for a time.

But it was as a lawyer as well as his work in the legal sector practising law where he was tasked with setting up the Polynesian Panther Legacy Trust. The trust was formed in 2021 and Fuimaono was the inaugural Chair from 2021-2023

With more than 50 years of advocacy, the Polynesian Panthers have secured their place in New Zealand history for their role in bringing to light the injustice Pacific peoples faced during the Dawn Raid era. 

Fellow Polynesian Panther, Reverend Alec Toleafoa says Fuimaono who was an original member of the 1970s Polynesian Panther Party, was a revolutionary activist, mentor, educator and Pacific leader. 

“He was a gifted thinker and orator and was able to speak out effectively against racially based and unjust treatment Pasifika communities were experiencing.This often led to direct action in the form of frontline protest and civil disruption against the government of the day who did not want us here.”

Rev. Toleafoa adds, “he set up the Polynesian Panther Party Legacy Trust to carry the legacy of the historic Polynesian Panther Party to the next generations of Pasifika in the hope it will inspire Pacific youth to stand powerfully in their own agency and mana.The PPPLT trust is flourishing today because of his vision and leadership.”

In 2022 the Polyneisan Panthers were recognised for their work and nominated for the New Zealand Community of the Year Award. 

Speaking to Tagata Pasifika at the time, Fuimaono reflected on the work of the Panthers.

“And I think on reflection we have to be thankful for the many Panthers; many of them are no longer with us so we respect them and pay due respect to them.”

“Our work challenged the system many decades ago…I hope it encourages other Pacific young people to take up the modern causes that we need to address – climate change, poverty. We need some strong voices in these areas.”

Fuimaono alongside his fellow panthers continued the message of ‘educate to liberate’

Fuimaono is survived by his wife Phillipa, children and grandchildren.

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