Our People

Ehara taku toa i te toa takitahi, ēngari he toa takitini    

“Success is not the work of one, but the work of many” 

Oka Sanerivi

Ngā Māngai Māori Member

PhD, BSc, BPhty, Certificate in Small Business Management

Samoa, Tonga

Oka is a Samoan, Tongan physiotherapy clinician, governor, emerging researcher, and leader. He is fluent in the Samoan language and holds the Matai or chiefly title of ‘Lilo’ bestowed by his family in Lefaga, Samoa.

Oka practiced as a Physiotherapist for over a decade and prior to commencing his PhD, he was the Head of the Physiotherapy Department at Gisborne Hospital. In doing so, he became the first Pasifika Physiotherapist to hold such a role in the country. Oka is currently conducting his PhD research exploring the translation of Samoan cultural knowledge into health clinical guidelines. This doctoral study is funded by HRC’s Pacific Clinical Research Training Fellowship and has purposefully employed Pacific research methods and worldviews. Oka’s growing governance experience includes being elected as Chair of the Pasifika Physiotherapists Association, elected as Executive Committee member for Physiotherapy New Zealand, elected as the New Zealand delegate to the World Physiotherapy Congress and General Meeting 2023 in Dubai; and a Ministerial appointment to the Physiotherapy Board of New Zealand. Along with this invaluable governance experience, Oka provides a unique and empathic skill set, network of relationships and commitment to the advancement of Indigenous communities that ensures that the strive for innovation at Mātai remains geared towards the advancement of Māori, as well as other Indigenous groups in the wider region and beyond.