Former rugby union player and coach Michael Jones and renowned chef Michael Meredith are among several people of Pacific Island origin in New Zealand who have been honoured with awards by the Queen, it was announced this week.
Mr Jones has been honoured with a Knight Companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for services to the Pacific community and youth and Mr Meredith with the New Zealand Order of Meredith for services as a restaurateur and to philanthropy.
Pacific Trade Invest (PTI) NZ has been privileged to work with both Mr Jones and Mr Meredith on projects over the years and congratulates both men on being conferred their respective accolades.
As a former rugby union player and coach Mr Jones played in World Cups for New Zealand and has since been a driver of economic and social development for Pacific people in New Zealand and the Pacific region. Mr Jones founded and is Chairman of the Village Community and Youth Trust, which emerged in 2003 out of a youth drop-in initiative in West Auckland to keep Pacific and Māori youth out of gang activity.
He launched the Village Sports Academy in 2010 as part of the wider work of the Village Trust. He championed the establishment of Village Trust’s mentoring programme targeting Pacific students to stay in school and fulfil their educational potential, and the Street level Learning Academy for 15 to 18 year olds who had dropped out of school.
He was instrumental in establishing the Pacific Peoples Advancement Trust, which established and sponsors the Pacific Advance Senior School, opened in 2015 to raise educational achievement of Pacific students who have traditionally struggled to fulfil their learning potential in mainstream settings.
He is a Trustee of a number of Pacific economic and social transformational organisations, including the Community Christian Fellowship (CCF) in West Auckland. He was appointed Community Partnerships Manager at the Auckland University of Technology in 2001 and advocated for a Pacific seat on AUT’s executive, which resulted in the establishment of the Pasifika Advancement Office in 2004. Following the tsunami affecting Samoa and Tonga in 2009, Mr Jones assisted with organising the collection and distribution of emergency supplies to affected communities.
Mr Michael Meredith is a renowned chef who regularly uses his skills to raise funds for charity. He has had an extensive career in Auckland restaurants, including Antoine’s, Vinnies, and as founding chef of The Grove. He established Meredith’s Restaurant in Mt Eden in 2007, winning the Metro Magazine supreme restaurant award in 2009 and Cuisine New Zealand Restaurant of the Year in 2011. He has twice been named outstanding chef at the annual Auckland hospitality industry awards. He holds weekly ‘Dine by Donation’ nights at his restaurant, donating the profits to charitable causes. He supports the Garden to Table Trust through fund-raising and school visits, and he is culinary advisor to Eat My Lunch, a social enterprise business that serves thousands of free lunches to Auckland school children every week. For the past year he has been a chef consultant to Air New Zealand. Mr Meredith regularly participates in fundraisers such as ‘Flavours of Fiji’, which raised funds for aid after Cyclone Winston, and is a Fred Hollows Foundation ‘Miracle Maker’, raising tens of thousands of dollars for the foundation through auctions, dinners, and direct appeals.
(Profiles courtesy: Department of the NZ Prime Minister & Cabinet website)