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Meet the Aniva Staffing Team

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Dr. Debbie Suitfafa Ryan

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Debbie is the principal and founder of Pacific Perspectives (2008) Ltd, a Pacific provider of workforce development, policy, research and evaluation expertise. She has extensive experience in the health sector as a general practitioner, manager, senior public servant and researcher. Her research and teaching interests include workforce development, health policy and systems and primary care evaluation, with a focus on improving equity for Pacific peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand.


Debbie has served as a Ministerial appointment to a range of public sector committees. She is a recipient of the Prime Ministers Award for public management at Victoria University, the Pasifika Medical Association Life Award, and the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the Pacific community and health.


Recent projects include support for the Ministry of Health’s Pacific COVID-19 response, and the establishment of the Pacific function at Te Whatu Ora – Health New Zealand, Review of the New Zealand Health System Response to the 2019 Measles Epidemic, the report to the Health and Disabilities System Review: Tofa Saili, A Review of Evidence about Health Equity for Pacific People in New Zealand and the report to the Health Quality & Safety Commission: Bula Sautu – A window on quality 2021: Pacific health in the year of COVID-19.

Dr. Alisi Vudiniabola

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Dr Alisi Vudiniabola is the Lead Lecturer for the Aniva Programme. She is an international recognised specialist in curriculum development, programme analysis and management of educational change in developing countries.


Dr Vudiniabola is the East Asia and Pacific Representative on the Board of the International Council of Nurses, was formerly a Head of School of Nursing at the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, Fiji National University, and is the current President of the Fiji Nursing Association. As a founding chair of the Fiji Nursing Council Education and Standards Committee, she developed competency frameworks for nursing education programmes and standards for institutions providing nursing programmes, as well as the development of the Bachelor of Nursing programme now taught at Fiji National University. 


Dr Vudiniabola brings a wealth of Pacific Nursing knowledge and experience, and her pedagogy is integral to the success of the Aniva programme. She was the first Fijian Nurse to receive a Doctorate in Nursing and is now a newly appointed member of the Fiji National University Council.

To'a Fereti

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To’a Fereti is a senior Pacific nurse leader with over 34 years’ experience in nursing, management, and advisory roles. In 2020, she was awarded the Pasifika Futures Health and Wellbeing SunPix Pacific People Award in recognition for her outstanding contribution to improving the health and wellbeing of Pacific people.


To’a has been a member, advisor, and senior leader on a variety of Pacific nursing organisations, boards, and advisory groups at the national and local levels, including President of the Pan Pacific Nurses Association and previous Chair of the Nursing Council of New Zealand. To’a was awarded a Master of Nursing from the University of Auckland in 2013 and holds several other Postgraduate qualifications.


She is currently a PhD candidate. To’a has been a Tutor and Mentor for the Aniva Pacific Health Workforce Development Programme since 2015, providing both academic and pastoral support to the Postgraduate Certificate, Diploma and Masters students.

Abel Smith

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Abel Smith is a senior lecturer for the Aniva programme and has over 35 years experience in the nursing and health care sector as a senior Pacific nurse leader, manager, clinician, and educator. Abel is currently the Director Pacific Health at Te Whatu Ora – Te Toka Tumai.


In 2015, Abel received the New Zealand Nurse Organisation’s National Award in recognition for his services to nursing and midwifery. Abel is the current President of the Fiji Nurses Association New Zealand, Executive Board Member of the Pasifika Medical Association, a Trustee of the Auckland Nurses Education and Research Trust, and Treasurer of the Pacific Nurses Section of the New Zealand Nurses Organisation, among numerous other advisory and governance groups in Pacific health. Abel was awarded the Pasifika Medical Association Life Member Award in 2022.


Abel was the first person to be awarded the Master of Professional Practice (Leadership) through the Aniva programme and is currently completing his PhD in Nursing.

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