The U.S. Department of State has selected Reverend Uesifili Unasa of New Zealand as April’s International Exchange Alumni Member of the Month. Throughout April, Rev. Unasa will be recognized on the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ International Exchange Alumni website for his dedication to New Zealand’s Pasifika and other marginalized communities. Each month, the Bureau’s Alumni Affairs Division, which supports alumni as they build on their exchange experiences, confers this award on an outstanding alumnus or alumna.
Rev. Unasa visited Washington, D.C. as a participant in the 2011 Community Activism and Minority Rights International Visitor Leadership Program (IVLP) and stood at the Lincoln Memorial where Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered his famous 1963 ‘I Have a Dream’ speech. Inspired by Dr. King’s example, Rev. Unasa returned to New Zealand to support New Zealand’s marginalized communities. He mobilized New Zealand’s various Pacific Island - or Pasifika - communities to take part in “The Advance Pasifika March for Our Future” making their social, economic, political, and cultural concerns known.
As Chairperson of the Auckland Mayor’s Pacific People’s Advisory Panel, he organized a dialogue with Pasifika church leaders, politicians, community groups, and members of New Zealand’s LGBT communities to share their perspectives on gay marriage. He is also active in the Living Wage campaign which seeks fair wages for unskilled and manual laborers. He organized consultations between Pasifika communities and the government on New Zealad’s ongoing constitutional review. Working with a Maori Anglican vicar, a Fijian Indian Muslim academic, and New Zealand’s Children’s Commissioner, Rev. Unasa drafted and launched the “Interfaith National Settlement against Violence” campaign for women and children, which was signed by more than 40 faith-based organizations and national leaders.
To learn more about Rev. Unasa, visit the U.S. Department of State Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs’ International Exchange Alumni website at https://alumni.state.gov/featured-alumni/member-month.
Media Contact: ECA-Press@state.gov