Samoan man awarded at Diversity Awards 2017 for Walking the Talk

It’s the 20th anniversary of the Diversity Awards NZ, which recognise and celebrate the New Zealand businesses and organisations championing diversity and inclusion in the workplace – this year’s Walk the Talk Award went to one Samoan man whose initiatives have improved not just health and safety but staff communication and lives.


Judging Convenor Sarah Haydon was particularly impressed by the breadth of entries across the nine categories this year, which came from a wide range of industries and from organisations of all sizes.


She says every entrant in this year’s Diversity Awards is worthy of recognition, and can take pride in what they have achieved in the context of their own workplace, and where they are on their diversity journey.


“They are all recognising the importance of every individual in their organisations.”


One such individual recognised for his importance to his organisation is Samoan Fatu Patolo, whose 63 staff report they feel their employer cares about their wellbeing, and overall engagement is now at 90 per cent, an exceptional score for a large team.


As CSD Oasis Manufacturing Manager at Coca-Cola Amatil NZ, Fatu has been with the company for 23 years and is well known for stepping beyond his role to help others.


Auckland Logistics Manager Richard Algar describes a typical example of this:


“I recently acted in the role of Auckland Logistics Manager while we were filling a vacancy and I noticed we had a health and safety issue in the warehouse. The staff are predominately Polynesian so I asked Fatu to come and talk to the night shift employees to find out how we could improve the situation.


“He spent a lot of his own time talking to them, establishing trust and took a different approach to influencing them. Rather than it being about rules he emphasised getting home safely to your family – the team look up to him, he worked hard to establish relationships and he wanted to be welcomed and trusted.


“Even though the health and safety project has been successfully concluded he is still visiting the night shift guys in his own time – sometimes at 3am!”


Team leader Chris Taumoepeau’s story is another that illustrates Fatu’s impact:


“I started in the plant after 7th form in a summer job. I was young and naughty and ended up on a final written warning.


“Fatu sat me down for a big talk and said I had potential and he had high hopes for me and that if I would work hard he would take another chance. He is always looking for guys to improve themselves.


“That was 11 years ago. Now I am the team leader leading eight people.”



Diversity Awards NZ 2017 Award winners


Supreme Award – Real Journeys


Tomorrow’s Workforce Award – Real Journeys


Empowerment Award – Air New Zealand


Skills Highway Award – Waste Management NZ Ltd


Positive Inclusion Award – ANZ


Cultural Celebration Award – Māori Women’s Development Inc


Diversability Award – Coffee Educators Ltd


Work Life Balance Award – Lion


Walk the Talk Award – Fatu Patolo, Coca-Cola Amatil


Emerging Diversity and Inclusion Award – The Warehouse Group