Leader recognised for decades of service

11 April 2014
Associate Dean Pasifica Dr Diane Mara, Associate Professor Airini and Manutai Leaupepe (far right) with Paddy Walker.

A Pasifika leader with decades of service in education and peace advocacy has been awarded a Distinguished Fellow Award to recognise her outstanding leadership in the field of critical studies in education.

Eleitino Edwina Diana Patricia Walker, “Paddy”, is the first Pasifika recipient of the Distinguished Fellow Award from the School of Critical Studies in Education. She is also the first leader with Samoan ancestry, and such strong links to the Cook Islands, to receive the award.

Through Eleitino’s research, educational service and curriculum development, she has generated peace and an understanding of life values between different cultures. Eleitino was the founding President of the national non government organisation for Pacific women living in Aotearoa New Zealand, PACIFICA (http://www.pacifica.org.nz/), and established the Pacific Island Youth Leadership Trust. Eleitino has received many honours including the Order of the British Empire and was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize as one of the Thousand Women of Peace in 2009. She has been a leader in UNICEF and on the organising committee for the International Year of the Child. 

Three academics from the Faculty of Education’s School of Critical Studies in Education - Associate Professor Airini, Associate Dean Pasifika Dr Diane Mara and Manutai Leaupepe - presented the award at a ceremony in Rarotonga in March.

Dr Airini says the Distinguished Fellow Award follows a national and international search for excellence in furthering education scholarship, debate and research in education.

“Eleitino will join a small group of CRSTIE Distinguished Fellows from around the world. Previous recipients of this award are professors and senior scholars based in universities including in Israel, the USA, England, New Zealand, Australia,” Airini says.

“All previous distinguished fellows are university academics. Eleitino is the first thought leader from outside the academy to have been recognised by the academy as a distinguished fellow. This means scholars from the School of Critical Studies in Education see Eleitino as more than their peer. She is recognised by members of the academy as exceptional, unique, and distinguished.”