Si’alei Van Toor: NZ’s new high commissioner to Samoa

By rnz.co.nz and is republished with permission

New Zealand’s incoming High Commissioner to Sāmoa, Si’alei Van Toor, is the first person of Sāmoan heritage appointed to the role.

New Zealand’s incoming High Commissioner to Sāmoa, Si’alei Van Toor, is the first person of Sāmoan heritage appointed to the role. She is also being accredited as New Zealand’s Consul-General to American Sāmoa. Photo: Supplied

She is also being accredited as New Zealand’s Consul-General to American Sāmoa.

High Commissioner Van Toor, a mother of two, has previously been New Zealand’s representative to Taiwan and ambassador to Russia.

The diplomat starts her posting next month and said Sāmoa will provide many opportunities, including exploring her cultural heritage.

“New Zealand and Sāmoa share a deep and multifaceted relationship, based on extensive people-to-people, sports, business and cultural links, and close historical ties,” she said.

“The framework for the relationship is strong, based on the Treaty of Friendship of 1962 and the 2019 Statement of Partnership. I look forward to leading the New Zealand High Commission to maintain and develop the relationship further still.”

Born and raised in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, Van Toor’s maternal grandparents arrived separately in New Zealand during the 1940s, where they would eventually meet and marry.

“On a more personal note, being able to live and learn more and discover my culture, and have that time to really delve into it and understand it with some depth… it’s an incredible opportunity,” Van Toor said.

“I lived in Samoa in 1999 as a master’s student for around six months, and it gave me a taste, of what it was like to live there, and I just loved it.”

Van Toor’s mother, Lorraine Havill, said watching daughter Si’alei achieve international success over the years has been exciting, adding her late husband Ken Havill (former Western Springs College principal) was immensely proud of having a diplomat in the family.

Samoa is preparing to host the Commonwealth Heads of Government Meeting in October.

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