Vitale Lafaele | Speaker

Vitale is in demand as a speaker. He speaks on four major topics: Inspiration, Culture, Leadership, and Diversity.

Auckland, New Zealand.

Booking Details

Vitale Lafaele commanded the Armed Offenders’ Squad for over 10 years and was the first Samoan Police Commander in the NZ Police. Vitale speaks on the topics of Leadership and Diversity.

He is a results-focused senior executive with demonstrable business acumen and key competencies in business, operational management and leadership development of teams with a focus on diversity.

Vitale was born in Apia, Samoa. His family moved to Auckland when he was two years old.

When he left school, he applied to join the NZ Army Special Air Service (SAS) in the first intake open to civilians.  From the 300 applicants, Vitale was one of four people who survived the 15-month course and spent 7 years as a soldier in the SAS, joining the Police in 1985. 

Vitale spent 15 years as a Detective Senior Sergeant and Senior Manager in the CIB and when promoted to Inspector in 2004 was given command of the Special Tactics Anti-Terrorist Group and Armed Offenders Squad. 

Under his leadership, both squads were deployed in some of the most nationally significant events in recent times such as the Napier siege, Urewera anti-terrorist raids, and the highly publicised New Lynn hostage rescue, the only explosive entry in NZ Police history.

Vitale knows first-hand the importance of organisational leadership and the notion that everyone is a leader.  Leaders enable a common vision and create an organisational culture of excellence and high performance.  Vitale promoted leadership in the staff he has commanded from small SAS patrols and tactical teams to hundreds of staff as Area Commander.

Highlights of his career include deploying overseas and serving as a Tactical Commander with the Victoria Police at the Melbourne Commonwealth Games and as the Personal Protection Officer to President Bill Clinton at CHOGM and Prime Minister Tony Blair on his visit to NZ in 2006.

Vitale’s career has spanned over 35 years of Army and Police operational, tactical, and executive leadership and is he the only Police officer to command all of NZ Police Tactical Squads.

Vitale has a fascinating story to tell from the early days as a Pacific youth growing up in Grey Lynn to following his dreams of one day joining the Army and Police.  Vitale exceeded his own expectations serving in the elite SAS and commanding the NZ Police Armed Offenders Squad and Special Tactics Group. 

A rare insight into his training, decision making and mental toughness when charged with the responsibility of making the right decisions under extreme circumstances to save people’s lives.

Over 40 years policing, government, and corporate experience has culminated in Vitale attaining in-depth senior management, leadership, governance and diversity expertise. Roles include Area Commander, Commander Armed Offenders Squad, Commander Special Tactics Group, Private Secretary to the Minister of Police, Cultural Responsiveness Manager and most recently General Manager and Protective Security Manager positions.

When he was appointed to the role of area commander Counties Manukau South he was the first Samoan to gain the command of an area in New Zealand and the first Polynesian to reach the top level in any of Auckland’s three metropolitan police districts. 

Vitale is also the only Polynesian to command the Armed Offenders Squad, Special Tactics Group Anti-Terrorist Squad and Dignitary VIP Protection Squad in the NZ Police.   And the only Polynesian to be appointed Private Secretary to the Minister of Police at Parliament and the Commissioners Executive Staff Officer at Police National Headquarters Wellington.


Inspiration: the story of how a little Samoan boy grew up to become a Samoan Chief (Matai) and one of New Zealand’s most decorated Police Officers. Audience feedback indicates that they love Vitale’s modesty and approach and are inspired by his story of commitment in the face of many so-called obstacles.

Culture: Vitale believes that it is the culture of the organisation that ultimately drives the outcome. The foundation that underpins the ability of the team to function at its best under all circumstances. The Dynamism of the group.

Leadership: Vitale uses real-life case-studies to give insight into leadership and what it means in life and death situations. As one delegate put it “I felt the hair stand up on my neck as VJ was telling us about the siege and the sniper”

Diversity: This is a very hot topic right now and nobody has more first-hand experience than Vitale, who was instrumental in taking diversity to the NZ Police.


"I attended the Pacific Police Fono in Wellington to network with other police officers from across the country. There was a speaker on that day that blew away the participants, caught my attention and laid the challenge for me as a Pacific Islander in police. I walked away from VJs presentation with a new purpose in my policing career. That was for my Pacific Island community to see positive changes. I needed to be part of that discussion that shape the policies and strategies that impact the community. Six years later I was sitting next to VJ as a Senior Sergeant in Charge of the Pacific, Ethnic and Asian portfolios in Counties Manuka and mentoring programmes across the Pacific Islands. VJ was hugely instrumental in building initiatives within NZ Police and I was a beneficiary of his vision and leadership"
Rei General Manager at Village Collective and former NZ Senior Sergeant of Police.
"We found Vitale to be a man of immense character who resonated well with our elite athletes. He has a story worth telling and lessons worth listening too. He has my endorsement. "
Jerry Seuseu Welfare and Education Manager Vodafone Warriors.
"Thank you so much for taking the time to present. The awardees certainly enjoyed your presentation and from the comments afterwards, many took something away that they can really use. The overall week seems to have been a great success and it gives us as Rotarians, working with others, much pleasure that working together we can positively influence the lives of some of NZ’s future leaders. Again, very many thanks Vitale for your time."
Ingrid - District Governor Rotary NZ
"VJ was a keynote speaker and coordinator at many Pacific and Royal NZ Police College leadership courses over many years and I had the pleasure of both working and co presenting with him. Such was VJs operational and strategic experience that he had a reputation of a leader of much cultural wealth and one immensely respected in maintaining the rule of law. His keynote speeches were inspirational and motivational for staff of all ranks. I know of many officers who went on to enhance their leadership and police careers sighting VJs presentations as the key reason that inspired them to set personal challenge’s and seek promotion. A man of great humility and a sense of calmness that one cannot escape but be drawn to. His leadership talks reflect the challenges of diversity, complex, and fast-moving environments which he articulates with passion and takes the participants in a journey of leadership discovery. His ability to trans cross his leadership skills from strategic planning and boardrooms or the homeless person on the street to AOS Commander where he switches to a mode of rapid fire decision making in confronting moving and dangerous armed offenders is a very special skill set rarely seen but greatly admired. "
Lou - former NZ Inspector of Police and National Pacific Responsiveness Manager
"What I love about VJ is he always makes you feel so valued no matter what he is saying. A born leader and gifted speaker. I’m so blessed to have travelled to Samoa with the Samoan NZ Police contingent in 2012 for the 50th Independence with him as our leader” "
Sue NZ Police
"What an amazing treat you gave us. Your story connected with a lot of our team. The GM was absolutely impressed by you. You made Ellie and I feel very proud. I can’t thank you enough and Ibelieve you unlocked some thinking for our team members and put dreams within reach. Keep doing what you’re doing because it’s going to change thinking and change lives. "
Junior Manager Security & Host Responsibility SKYCITY
"What an amazing treat you gave us. Your story connected with a lot of our team. The GM was absolutely impressed by you. You made Ellie and I feel very proud. I can’t thank you enough and Ibelieve you unlocked some thinking for our team members and put dreams within reach. Keep doing what you’re doing because it’s going to change thinking and change lives. "
Manager Security & Host Responsibility SKYCITY
"I’ve got to say you are one of the very few speakers that I am very impressed with! I am very pleased to have met you and your talk is one of the highlight events I have had coming to NZ for the very first time. Thank you very much. Patrick - "
Patrick, International Police Association NZ Tour

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