Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) Chief Executive, Debbie Sorensen, NZRPN, MNZIOD, was recognised by the New Zealand Tonga Business Council (NZTBC) in the weekend, receiving an award for advancing the cause of bilateral international relations, economic development and prosperity in New Zealand and Tonga.
The Tongan health leader has played a pivotal role in the health reforms of the 80s and 90s in New Zealand and has been instrumental in driving positive institutional changes that address the health challenges of the Pacific communities in New Zealand and abroad.
She says she was honoured to be acknowledged by the NZTBC, an organisation established to promote the bilateral trade relations between New Zealand and Tonga, during their 10th anniversary dinner in Auckland on Saturday night.
The black-tie event was attended by Tongan community leaders, business entrepreneurs and politicians, including the Minister for Pacific Peoples, Hon. Aupito William Sio and fellow Labour MP, Hon. Anahila Kanongata’a-Suisuiki.
“To be so incredibly lucky to firstly work at home and to serve the kingdom for twenty years and to continue to do that is indeed a position of privilege,” Mrs. Sorensen said during her acceptance speech.
“The work that I do is a small contribution but could not be undertaken without the many relationships, without the many things we do collectively as a community for our people here and our people back home.”
Throughout the years, Mrs. Sorensen has received many awards for her service and work to help the Pacific health sector, including the Excellence in Leadership Award from South Seas Healthcare, the Service Award from the Pasifika Medical Association and was highly commended in the 1999 Pacific Business Person of the Year award by the Pacific Business Trust.
In 2011, she was awarded a prestigious AHIVA Health Leadership Fellowship which supported her to complete an executive leadership programme at Harvard University.
Most recently, Mrs Sorensen was awarded the Royal Order of the Crown of Tonga Commander award from His Majesty King Tupou VI of Tonga, for her services to the people of Tonga.
Date: Monday 29 March 2021