Advisory Board

The Pacific Women Advisory Board provides advice on the strategic direction of Pacific Women, assists in connecting the program with other influential leaders in the Pacific and advocates to support gender equality in the Pacific. The Advisory Board reflects Australia’s commitment to a Pacific-led response to enhance opportunities for the political, economic and social advancement of Pacific women. The Advisory Board’s membership comprises up to 12 eminent leaders from the Pacific Islands and Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls attends Advisory Board meetings as an observer. Current members of the Advisory Board are:

Dr Lawrence Kalinoe, Secretary Department of Justice and Attorney-General (Papua New Guinea)

Dr Kalinoe was formerly the Secretary to the PNG Law Reform Commission until his appointment as Secretary to the Justice and Attorney General’s Department. He is formerly the Dean of the Law School. Dr Kalinoe is Chair of PNG’s Family and Sexual Violence Action Committee and is also on the Environment Board of the Department of Environment and Conservation.


Ms Jane Kesno, Founder and Chairperson of PNG Women and Children’s Rights Centre and co-founder of the Coalition of Public Sector Women in Leadership (PNG)

After completing a Masters in Social Planning and Development at University of Queensland, Ms Kesno undertook a range of community development and research work with NGOs, private sector and international agencies. From 1985 to 2000, she worked in the PNG public service, culminating in her appointment as Head of the Women’s Division and Director of the Office of Home Affairs (now elevated to the Department of Community Development) in 1999. Ms Kesno joined the PNG-Australia Law and Justice Sector Program as Gender and Lead Adviser for Cross Cutting Issues. She left this role to contest in the 2012 elections for the Namatanai District. Ms Kesno is the Founder and Chairperson of an NGO, the PNG Women and Children’s Rights Centre, and co-founder of Coalition of Public Sector Women in Leadership.

Ms Natalia Palu Latu, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Policy and Reform Division, Ministry of Finance and National Planning (Tonga)

Prior to joining the Ministry of Finance and National Planning, Ms Latu was a Financial Analyst with the Ministry of Public Enterprises, overseeing the setup of the Ministry and parts of the State Owned Entity Government Rationalisation and Reform Program. Ms Latu was previously head of the Project and Aid Management Division, who contributed extensively through policy advice, operational and technical support, before her appointment to her current position. She was also recently a member of the Forum Compact Development Partners Review of Australia’s Development Cooperation.

Reverend Sereima Lomaloma, Ministry Officer, Anglican Diocese of Polynesia and Chairperson of House of Sarah (Fiji)

Reverend Lomaloma has been active in the Pacific Conference of Churches and was the Secretary of the Diocese of Polynesia. From 1991 to June 2000, she was the Director for Women and Culture, Ministry for Women and Culture and Social Welfare, Government of Fiji. Since January 2014, her Ministry covers three areas/portfolios – Ministry Officer, Curriculum Development Co-ordinator and Community Engagement. She is a founding member of the House of Sarah and chairs the House of Sarah Management Committee. Reverend Lomaloma has been a Board Member of the Homes of Hope (Fiji) since July 2015 and was formerly a Trustee of the Fiji Women’s Crisis Centre and member of their Project Co-ordinating Committee.

Ms Savina Nongebatu, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Pacific Disability Forum (Solomon Islands)

Ms Nongebatu is a previous Office Manager (2011-2018) and President (2004-2011) of People with Disabilities Solomon Islands (PWDSI). PWDSI is an advocacy organisation that promotes the rights of people with disabilities. Ms Nongebatu was also female co-chair for Pacific Disability Forum (2009-2011). The Pacific Disability Forum (PDF) is a regional peak body that works in partnership with Disabled Persons Organisations in the Pacific region to build their capacity and improve the lives of persons with disabilities through advocacy. In 2012, she received the U.S. Secretary of State’s Award for International Women of Courage. She was recognised for overcoming adversity and championing the cause of people living with disabilities in Solomon Islands.

Mrs Merilyn Tahi, Coordinator of the Vanuatu Women’s Centre (Vanuatu)

Mrs Tahi has been the Coordinator of the Vanuatu Women’s Centre since 1994. She was awarded the ‘Woman of Courage’ award by the USA Government in 2009 for her work on violence against women and children in Vanuatu. Mrs Tahi was the second Political Advisor in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (1990-1991), and was Assistant Secretary in the Ministry of Foreign Affairs (Protocol) (1983-1986) and Director for Vanuatu Centre for International Relations (1986-1990). Mrs Tahi’s experience includes the positions of Chairperson of Vanuatu Association of Non-Government Organisations (VANGO) and President of Vanuatu National Council of Women.

Ms Lesieli Taviri, Chairperson, PNG Business Coalition for Women & CEO of Origin Energy LPG (Papua New Guinea)

Ms Taviri graduated with a Bachelor of Computer Science at the PNG University of Technology and worked in IT for eight years before moving in to the energy sector where she has spent the last eight years of her career in HR, Sales, Marketing and Business Development senior executive roles. She is the Chairman of the Business Coalition for Women, which is the first kind of group in the Region, committed to removing the barriers that have prevent women from advancing their careers in the region. Ms Taviri is completing a MBA program with the Chifley School of Business and holds Directorship on the Board of PNG’s largest Superannuation Fund, Nambawan Super Limited.

Ms Maere Tekanene, former Minister of Education (Kiribati)

Ms Tekanene is the former Minister of Education and Member of Parliament for Tarawa Teinainano (2011 – March 2016). She was also Vice President of the Interim Kiribati Women in Politics Association (2010-2011) and Acting Secretary to Parliament Committees for the Kiribati House of Parliament (2006-2007). Ms Tekanene was consultant on Gender Equality, Poverty and Education Goals for the first National Report on the Millennium Development Goals in collaboration with UNDP in 2007 and on the Status of Women and CEDAW with the Pacific Foundation for the Advancement of Women in 2003. She was also the Coordinator/Researcher and subsequently Team Leader for Dissemination of findings for the Gender-Based Violence and Child Abuse Study based at the Ministry of Internal and Social Affairs (2007-2011). She has been serving public as a leader in public enterprise, in the education sector and through dedication to the advancement of women for more than thirty years.

Dr Colin Tukuitonga, Director-General SPC (Niue)

Dr Tukuitonga was appointed Director-General of SPC in November 2013. He has held several leadership positions across the Pacific and globally, including: Associate Professor of Pacific and International Health, University of Auckland; Head of Surveillance and Prevention of Chronic NCDs, World Health Organisation, Former Chief Executive of the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, Government of New Zealand. Dr Tukuitonga is the Founding Member of the Niue Arts and Culture Festival, Pacific Language Weeks (celebrating five Pacific languages) in New Zealand, Leadership Development Programme for Pacific civil servants in New Zealand

Yoshiko Yamaguchi, Pacific Young Women’s Leadership Alliance (Republic of Marshall Islands)

Ms Yamaguchi graduated from the University of Hawaii, Hilo with a Bachelor of Arts in Political Science and Gender Studies and then worked as a Domestic Violence public awareness coordinator for Women United Together in the Marshall Islands (WUTMI), a National NGO. Ms Yamaguchi is currently the new United Nation’s Development Programme/Global Environment Facility – Small Grants Programme National Coordinator. Yoshiko has worked regionally with other young women during the Triennial Conference of Pacific Women (Cook Islands, 2013)

Hon Niki Rattle, Speaker, Parliament of the Cook Islands                                                                                     

Hon. Rattle was appointed Speaker and CPA Branch President in 2012 and reappointed in 2014. She is an extremely active parliamentarian, including as CPA Pacific Region Representative since 2014 and highly regarded internationally for her skills of conciliation, organisation and advocacy.  As the first Pacific Chairperson of the International Conference of the Red Cross Red Crescent, due to her natural authority, she was able to navigate ideological and political divides. She was an eminent member of the Election Committee of the International Federation Red Cross Red Crescent, known for her contribution to rules of procedures and ethics. A New Zealand registered nurse, Rattle remains an advocate for women and girls and increasing their representation in Parliament. Her passion for community-voluntary work, prevention of violence, health and disaster-risk reduction has enriched her role as speaker. Hon Rattle is the former Chairperson of Cook Islands National Council of Women, former Chairperson of Cook Islands Women’s Counseling Centre, current Cook Islands Nursing Council Member, current Community Rehabilitation Centre Board Member and just formed the Cook Islands Women Parliamentarians Caucus.

Hon Dr Sharman Stone, Australia’s Ambassador for Women and Girls (Observer)

Hon Dr Sharman Stone has been a longstanding advocate on gender equality issues in Australia and globally with a distinguished 20-year career in the Australian parliament. She delivered Australia’s Statement on the Status of Women in the 2014 United Nations General Assembly, where she also worked on the development of the new Sustainable Development Goals. Dr Stone has participated in regional dialogues for Pacific women parliamentarians (Tonga 2014), the Australian-funded Pacific Women’s Parliamentary Partnership Project and the Women Ministers and Parliamentarians Conference on Progressing Sexual and Reproductive Health and Rights into Beijing 20+.