It’s the week before Christmas shopping still waiting to be done and a holiday up North to escape to. 2019 is around the corner and 2018’s closing fast. Overall it was an ok year.  We’ve met great entrepreneurs in various stages of their business journeys. Some are already major exporters from the Pacific, others are just about to step out onto the stage. The best part of our job is finding out the people behind the products and what their stories are.

My highlights reel was filled with 1sts. The first PTI NZ Pacific Hub at the Pasifika Festival for 30+delegates on the Path to Market programme. The first time in 60 years a category 4 Cyclone called Gita hit Tonga and devastated homes, buildings and food plantations. The first New Zealand Tonga Business Council Mission to Tonga; first Samoa Business Network Business Awards and Business Trip to Samoa. The first banana shipment from Samoa to New Zealand after 50 years and the first Bottega Gold Fijian Fashion festival held.

We welcomed Office Administrator Shivani Prasad new from Fiji, and AUT interns, Naeemah Poluvalu and Jade Sefo who completed their Third-Year assessments with us and helped at Fine Foods New Zealand and the Auckland Food Show in July.

Our 2017 summer interns Sia Fatu of Samoa scored her dream job as an auditor in Samoa and Shulei Andrew-ToGuata of Papua New Guinea continued her studies at Waikato. Congrats to Sakura Aoki-Danielson who also graduated recently.

But it was sad to farewell our long-term colleague Joe Fuavao who left PTI NZ after a 10-year career spanning three Trade Commissioners when he moved on to a new role as the Senior Policy Advisor at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade’s Pacific Connections Office.  His farewell was a quiet office lunch and a small afternoon tea with staff away on duty travel, but he’ll be an awesome Pasifika diplomat with many accolades to come. Good one maaate!

Our last highlights came from Robyn Ekstrom, Trade Promotions Adviser, PTI Europe, who led two different Pacific delegations to The Caffe Culture Show in London and Europe’s biggest Food Show SIAL Paris 2018. As was reconnecting with our old clients Mailelani Samoa who relaunched in Auckland.

Each year is a surprising new adventure and hopefully 2019 will bring more silver linings in stories to tell in future.

Monuina e Kilisimasi mo e Tau Foou 2019!

Eleanor Ikinofo

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