Eight To Be Recognized as 2013 "Stars of Oceania"

University of Hawaiʻi
Dr. Failautusi Avegalio , (808) 956-6286
Director, Pacific Business Center Program, Pacific Business Center Program
Renata Matcheva , (808) 352-8043
Business Development and Research Manager, Pacific, Pacific Business Center Program
Posted: Nov 19, 2013

HONOLULU, HI (November 19, 2013) – The University of Hawai‘i Pacific Business Center Program’s planning committee announced that eight women of and from Oceania will be honored at the third “Stars of Oceania” recognition dinner December 3, 2013 at the Hale Koa Hotel in Waikiki, from 5:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

“Primarily we wanted to recognize and celebrate the contributions of Pacific Islanders and residents not born and raised as such, but whose heart and service is testimony to their love for the islands they call home.  Their impacts are felt in and from Hawai‘i as well as other parts of the Pacific, the nation and the world. Each represents multiple dimensions of leadership to overcome challenges with Aloha, courage, faith and perseverance in their fields of endeavor,” stated UH Pacific Business Center Program Director, Dr. Tusi Avegalio, the primary organizer of the event. “In a time when we have developed technologies that assure abundance and yet so many are in want, maybe we need to think less and feel more. Perhaps more than technology, at this time, we need more humanity.”

The “Stars of Oceania” was inaugurated in 2006 with the intent to continue every three to four years. This year’s recognition dinner is not an award or reward ceremony for distinguished service, but to recognize and acknowledge these outstanding women for doing the right thing.  All have been rewarded and awarded on many occasions and deservedly so. The “Stars of Oceania” recognizes that the attributes of service and sacrifice to raise the common good is much like Aloha, not an attribute of a particular culture, ethnicity nor geographical boundary. The event honors one’s sense of humanity.

2013 Honorees

1.  Dr. Sela Panapasa                      Rotuma, Fiji

Health Leadership. Conducting research, analysis and reporting from University of Michigan that is Impacting the Pacific region and US regarding elderly care and policy development for health and nutrition for Native Hawaiians and Pacific Islanders.

2. Dr. Diane Ragone                        Virginia

Humanitarian Leadership. Director of the National Tropical Botanical Gardens Breadfruit Institute. Her work on breadfruit to feed the hungry of the world has impacted disaster stricken areas in the Caribbean and Africa where mass planting of trees from H have fed hundreds of thousands over the decade. 

3. Dr. Tin Myaing Thein       Myanmar

Compassionate Leadership. Executive Director of the Pacific Gateway where she leads programs that help refugees, the destitute and victims of human trafficking where many of the victims are young girls and women. Although her work often places her in at risk situations, she continues to help locals as well as immigrants from the Pacific and Asia with social and economic adjustment needs.  

4. Beadie Kanahele Dawson         Hawaii

Community Leadership. Community activist, attorney, business woman and entrepreneur who leaves behind her a legacy of courage, cultural stewardship and economic development initiatives that seek balance and synergy of traditional wisdom of her ancestors and modern knowledge. Service is matter of heart not age.

5. Vaimasenuu Zita Martel            Samoa

Courage Leadership. Mother, diplomat, traditional leader and fautasi long boat skipper, successful business woman and entrepreneur. Overcame tremendous challenges and shattered the gender barrier by entering a traditional, men’s only long boat race as the first women ever to do so, and winning the 50th anniversary celebration fautasi race of her country.

6.  Susan O’connor               Montana

Spiritual leadership. Social and global activist for world peace and harmony. Facilitated national and international gatherings in Hawaii, established programs to support the social, economic and spiritual needs for native Hawaiians in Hana and built a retreat area as a portal for peace and harmony with Aloha and Hawaiian values at the core to all who seek a peaceful place for reflection, balance and harmony in life.

7. Dr. Takiora Ingram                       Rarotonga, Cook Islands

Regional leadership. 'Regional environmental leader and Coordinator of the Pacific Regional Ocean Partnership, promoting health and stewardship of the Pacific Ocean’s resources,  and former Executive Director of the All Islands Coral Reef Committee Secretariat based in Honolulu, Hawai‘i.  Provides effective leadership and coordination of the U.S. Pacific Islands and the federal government to sustainably manage ocean resources and promote stewardship of the Pacific Ocean.

8.  Angela Williams             Virginia

Empowering Leadership. Retired US DOI senior policy analyst who established the Pacific Business Center Program and a high impact internship program that has made significant contributions to local capacity building, economic and small business development throughout the US Territories, particularly Micronesia. 

General tickets for the event are $75.00. Students are $50.00. Sponsored tables: Kalo tables x 10 are 750.00; Niu tables x 10 are $1,500.00; and Ulu tables x 10 are $2,500.  Sponsored tables and seats that are donated will be extended to women of Hawai‘i who could not attend otherwise or as designated. All checks are to be made out to the University of Hawai‘i, PBCP, attention: “Stars of Oceania.”  Information is also available online at http://pbcphawaii.com/starsofoceania2009.asp.

“The Planning Committee composed of Cha Thompson, Leslie Wilcox, Crissy Gayagas, Wendy Loh, Jensin Sommer, Ramsay Taum and Renata Matcheva have been hard at work,” said Avegalio. “ As I reflect on the Year of the Women 2013 Stars of Oceania and efforts towards making it happen, I’m reminded of a quote by Margaret Mead, ‘Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has.’”


The inaugural “Stars of Oceania” recognized outstanding individuals in their fields of endeavor. Included were:

  • the late Auntie Malia Craver, 79, honored as a ‘Living Treasure of Hawai‘i’ for her dedication to the Hawaiian culture and the spirit of Aloha. On August 3rd, 2000, when she addressed the 53rd annual U.N. Conference of Non-Government Organizations, she received a standing ovation.
  • Master Navigators Mau Piailug from the Micronesian island of Satawal in Yap State of the Federated States of Micronesia, instrumental in resurrecting traditional navigation skills for the Hawaiian people, in particular, and Polynesians in general. 
  • Kalo Mataele Soukop, a 20th century renaissance woman and Pacific island pioneer who has been, among many things, the producer and director of Kalo South Seas Village Revue, and is a relative to the Royal Family of the Kingdom of Tonga, as well as a civic leader in the Tongan & Hawaiian communities.
  • Lubuw Falanruw, a native of the Micronesian island of Yap, Falanruw, CEO and President of Digital Mediums LLC, (a Honolulu-based interactive software development company) was recognized as the 2003 Small Business Association Young Entrepreneur of the Year and a member of the 2004 Pacific Business News Forty Under 40. Digital Mediums has won Pele Awards from the Honolulu Advertising Federation and was recognized as the second-fastest growing company in Hawai‘i by Pacific Business News in 2004.

Others honored that year were Master Navigator, Nainoa Thompson; successful business owners, Cha and Tihati Thompson; Master Carver, Tuione Pulotu; the first Polynesian Mayor of a major U.S. City, Mufi Hanneman; and World Champion fire knife dance and Polynesian arts advocate, Pulefano Galea’i. The renowned Al Harrington was Master of Ceremonies.

The 2009 “Stars of Oceania” was a luncheon and focused on traditional leadership by recognizing paramount and ranking traditional leaders representing Melanesia, Micronesia and Polynesia. The “Stars of Oceania” luncheon was coupled with the Pasifika Energy Summit as a single event to provide a forum connecting traditional wisdom with modern knowledge.  

The group of distinguished speakers at that luncheon included Nobel Prize Winner, Dr. Stephen Schneider; international best-selling author, Dr. David Korten; Witi Ihimaera, the first Maori novelist and author of "Whale Rider"; and Ted Peck, Department of Business, Economic Development and Tourism’s Energy Administrator for Strategic Industries Division. 

Pacific Island traditional leaders included Her Highness Filifilia Tamasese  of Samoa who delivered the key note address, former Vice President of Fiji and ranking traditional Chief Ratu Joni Madraiwiwi, Iroij Kotak Loeak, Chairman of the Council of Iroij of the Marshall Islands; and Ramsay Taum, Kupuna with ancient ties to Ka’u. All shared traditional wisdom and reminded listeners that the islands of the Pacific will be the first impacted, the least able to cope, and the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.  Publicly elected officials in attendance included Senator Kalani English, Senator Mike Gabbard and House Representative Hermina Morita. The first Institutional awards recognized the Polynesian Cultural Center, Laie and the Hawai‘inuiakea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, University of Hawai‘I at Mānoa.



The Pacific Business Center Program was established in 1979 to provide governments, companies, and institutions in Hawai‘i with business-related services such as financial analysis, management reviews, business plans, and other business technical support. Since its inception, PBCP has expanded its span of services to include other Pacific Basin islands, including the territories of American Samoa and Guam, the Commonwealth of the Northern Mariana Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia, and the Republics of Palau and the Marshall Islands. Current funders of the PBCP include the U.S. Department of Commerce‘s Economic Development Administration and the U.S. Department of Interior‘s Office of Insular Affairs with matching support by the University of Hawai‘i.