Pacific CSO farewell disability stalwart-Setareki Macanawai

Mr Setareki Seru Macanawai (Photo: Pacific Disability Forum)

A leading advocate in the Pacific region Macanawai led the Pacific Disability Forum (PDF) for 17 years and was recognised for his achievements in pushing for the collective good of our Pacific peoples. 

Pacific Civil Society, last week, farewelled Pacific Disability Forum’s (PDF) long-serving Chief Executive Officer and one of the founding members, Setareki Macanawai. 

PIANGO Executive Director-Emeline Ilolahia said for number of years, Macanawai has been a beacon of hope for countless individuals facing the challenges of disability and he never shied away from a fight, from navigating complex discussions to raising awareness, ensuring the voices of the disabled were heard loud and clear. 

She recalled her first encounter with Macanawai on the Raising Pacific Voices at a time when CSO struggled to work with the European Union, he put his hands up, a testament to his unwavering dedication to the sector. 

Pacific Network on Globalisation (PANG) Coordinator Maureen Penjueli said “Macanawai has been a force for good, a voice for those who needed it most.” 

“You have shown us the power of compassion, determination, and the unwavering belief in a more inclusive Pacific,” Penjueli said. 

Also, part of the farewell ceremony was the Pacific Islands Forum Secretary General, Baron Waqa and his deputy Esala Nayasi, who acknowledged Macanawai’s contribution and dedication and wished him all the best on his well-deserved retirement. 

PIANGO Board Deputy Director and Civil Society Forum of Tonga (CSFT) Chair, Drew Havea said Macanawai may be leaving the CSO work but the impact he has made will continue to ripple outwards because he has left an indelible mark on the CSOs. 

Macanawai was instrumental in developing Fiji’s first national policy on disability, using the Biwako Millennium Framework of Action as a model. He is also member of AusAID’s Disability-Inclusive Development Reference Group (DRG), a small honorary advisory group, comprising international and Australian leaders and active participants in disability-inclusive development. 

He received a number of regional and international awards including: The Disability Pasifika Award, awarded by the Pacific Disability Forum, the Regional Rights Resource Team/Secretariat of the Pacific Community (RRRT/SPC) 2008 Pacific Human Rights Award and the 6th Kazuo Itoga Memorial Foundation Award in Japan for advancing the rights of persons with disabilities in the Pacific region.