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Indigenous people and cancer: a shared agenda for Aotearoa, Australia, and Pacific nations

Ngā iwi taketake me te mate pukupuku: He kaupapa tiritahi mō Aotearoa, Āhitereiria me ngā iwi o Te Moana-nui-a-Kiwa

Monday, Tuesday 19, 20 February 2018

All guests of this symposium are invited to a pōwhiri on Sunday 18 February at 6pm. See invitation here. Please RSVP to

Cancer is one of the most important health problems facing our region. Renowned regional and global collaborators will join participants in this symposium to provide the most up to date picture of the impact of cancer among the Indigenous peoples of Australia, New Zealand and the Pacific. We will identify, debate and discuss strategies that aim to reduce cancer incidence and improve cancer outcomes among the region’s Indigenous populations.

We will discuss questions such as:

  • How can we better measure cancer among Indigenous people of the region?
  • Do Australia and New Zealand profit from cancer-causing exports to the Pacific?
  • Are we doing everything we can to prevent cancer in our region?
  • How can we ensure that Indigenous peoples in our region have access to affordable, appropriate, effective and timely cancer treatment?


  1. To bring together people from Australia, New Zealand and Pacific nations to share information, ideas and potential solutions relating to cancer among Indigenous peoples of the region.
  2. To foster the development of current and new regional and international networks aimed at improving cancer outcomes among Indigenous peoples of the region.
  3. To understand political and societal factors influencing cancer in the region.
  4. To use a self-determination and strengths-based approach to explore key cancer control strategies for Indigenous peoples of the region including cancer monitoring, prevention and treatment.
  5. To identify key factors that can be incorporated into Indigenous cancer control strategies for the region, and potentially more widely.
  6. To advocate for improvement in cancer control strategies for Indigenous peoples of the region.

Style of course

This is a symposium – there will be multi-speaker presentations and panel discussions.

Who should attend?  

This symposium is aimed at anyone with an interest in cancer prevention and control, health services management, clinical management or cancer research in Australia, Aotearoa/New Zealand or the Pacific. These groups may include those working in Ministries of Health, Non-Governmental Organisations, relevant international organisations, health care providers, health service planners and administrators, cancer researchers, advocacy groups, community groups and others with an interest in improving the health of Indigenous peoples of the region. 

Final timetable - Day 1 Monday 19 Feb

Time Session Presenter(s)
8:30am Registration
9am Mihi whakatau
Introductions and housekeeping
Why is this important? What do we hope to achieve

Diana Sarfati
Gail Garvey
Paula Vivili

10..00am Reflections from our whānau
(Chair: Teresa Goza)
10:30am Morning tea
11am Framing cancer within Indigenous paradigms Bridget Robson
11..45am The importance of cancer surveillance and how we can do better

Introduction to the Pacific Cancer Registry hub
(Chair: David Collingridge, Editor Lancet Oncology)
Freddie Bray
12:30pm Lunch break


Preventing cancer:
Control of NCDs in the Pacific: roles of tobacco and obesity
Role of Infection: the case of H Pylori
Tobacco control among Indigenous Australians

Panel Discussion
(Chair: Sunia Foliaki)

Paula Vivili
Andrea Teng
Tom Calma
3pm Afternoon tea
3:30pm Cancer screening
Screening for cervical cancer in Samoa
Cervical Screening in Indigenous women in Australia
Inequalities in screening: bowel cancer
Breast cancer screening among Indigenous Australians

Panel discussion
(Chair: Nina Scott)

Lama Tafuna’i
Lisa Whop
Melissa McLeod
Sue Moore
5pm Finish
5.15pm EVENING Public Lecture - Freddie Bray
(Development and diversity: assessing the future burden of cancer worldwide)

Final timetable - Day 2 Tuesday 20 Feb

Time Session Presenter(s)
9am Challenges for cancer care in the Pacific and how to move forward
(Chair: Peter Crampton, Pro-Vice Chancellor, Division Health Sciences)
Neal Palafox
Kiki Maoate
Jane Skeen
10:30am Morning tea
11am Evidence of treatment inequities in Australia and NZ
Addressing inequities: moving forward
(Chair: Bridget Robson) 
Diana Sarfati
Sue Moore
Nina Scott
Teresa Goza
Gail Garvey
12:30pm Lunch break
12.40-1.20pm: Lunch time session entitled ‘Getting published in a high impact journal: insights from an Editor’
David Collingridge (Editor, Lancet Oncology)


Palliative care issues in the Pacific
Palliative care: how can we do better for Māori ? 

Lama Tafuna’i
Tess Moeke-Maxwell

2.15pm The importance of planning for cancer control
(Chair: Neal Palafox) 
Hai-Rim Shin
3pm Afternoon tea

Panel discussion: Moving the agenda forward
What next?
(Co-Chairs: Paula Vivili, Diana Sarfati)

Wrap up, evaluation and finish

5pm Finish


Professor Tom Calma AO has a long and distinguished career in social justice and community development. He is the Chancellor of University of Canberra and the National Coordinator for Tackling Indigenous Smoking. He served as Race Discrimination Commissioner from 2004 until 2009 and is the former Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Social Justice Commissioner with the Australian Human Rights Commission.

  • Dr Freddie Bray is Section Head of the Cancer Surveillance Section at the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), in Lyon, France. His areas of research include estimation of the global cancer burden and the analysis of time trends of cancer, including predictions of the future scale and profile of cancer and linkages to human development transitions. Dr Bray leads the Global Initiative for Cancer Registration development (GICR,, an international multi-partner programme designed to ensure a sustainable expansion of the coverage and quality of population-based cancer registries in low and middle income countries.
  • Dr Sunia Foliaki is a public health physician by training. His research focus is among Pacific populations both in New Zealand and in the Pacific islands. His research covers a number of Pacific public health studies including the epidemiology of cancer and asthma. He is also working closely with Pacific islands countries on food security policies and programmes and conducts regional consultancies with Pacific islands ministries of health on non-communicable diseases in general
  • Prof Gail Garvey is an Indigenous researcher who plays a leadership role in Indigenous cancer research in Australia nationally and internationally. She leads a National Centre of Research Excellence in Cancer and Indigenous People, and was the organiser of the World Indigenous Cancer Conference in 2016.
  • Teresa Goza (Ngāti Kauwhata, Ngāti Haua, Ngāti Matakore, Ngāti Raukawa) is an advisor for Cancer Society Wellington, and leading a Waitangi claim relating to unequal outcomes for Māori patients with cancer.
  • Dr Melissa McLeod (Ngāi Tahu) is a public health physician and senior research fellow working at Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pōmare, University of Otago, Wellington. Melissa is a fellow of the New Zealand College of Public Health Medicine and a member of Te ORA (Māori Medical Practitioners Association). Melissa’s research interests include Māori health, epidemiology and the investigation and elimination of ethnic health inequalities in Aotearoa/New Zealand.
  • Mr Kiki Maoate is a Paediatric Surgeon and Urologist at Christchurch Public Hospital and Children's Specialist Centre Ltd. He was born in the Cook Islands and educated at the University of Otago and is a Clinical Senior Lecturer in Paediatric Surgery at the University of Otago, Christchurch, and an Advisor on Paediatric Surgery, Fiji School of Medicine. He is currently developing outreach services to the Pacific Island countries in conjunction with the Royal Australasian College of Surgeons/AUSAID, with the aid of the New Zealand Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Kiki plays an advisory role to the Ministry of Health on Pacific Island issues.
  • Dr Tess Moeke-Maxwell (Ngāi Tai & Ngāti Pōrou) is a Research Fellow for the Te Ārai Palliative and End of Life Care Research Group, School of Nursing, University of Auckland.
  • Dr Suzanne Moore is a research fellow at the Menzies School of Health Research, Australia. Her research interests include cancer epidemiology, cancer screening and cancer disparity, with a focus on Indigenous people. She has led a number of international studies investigating the cancer burden of Indigenous people, and has expertise in managing national cancer projects.
  • Professor Neal Palafox (University of Hawaii Cancer Center) has been focused on improving health capacity and health policy toward reducing health disparities in US-Affiliated Pacific Island (USAPI) jurisdictions. This work has been done utilizing a community-based, participatory approach and developing key partnerships with health leadership, policy-makers and community advocates. These efforts have resulted in US Center for Disease Control (CDC)-funded Comprehensive Cancer Control programs in each of the USAPI jurisdictions and in the development of a Pacific Regional Central Cancer Registry in the region.
  • Assoc Prof Bridget Robson (Ngāti Raukawa) is the director of Te Rōpū Rangahau Hauora a Eru Pōmare at the University of Otago, Wellington. Her research interests are in the areas of social and economic determinants of health, inequitable treatment in the health system, the impact of racism on health, and the development of kaupapa Māori epidemiology.
  • Prof Diana Sarfati is Head of the Department of Public Health at University of Otago, Wellington, a public health physician, and researcher. She has led a large body of research relating to ethnic disparities in cancer outcomes in New Zealand. This work has resulted in the identification of key patient and health system factors that influence cancer survival. It has been used extensively by health policy makers, clinicians and other researchers to develop policies and practices that aim to reduce inequities in cancer outcomes. She is currently a member of the New Zealand National Cancer Leadership Board.
  • Dr Nina Scott (Ngati Whatua, Nga puhi) is a public health physician and current Chair of Hei Āhuru Mōwai, the Māori Cancer Leadership Board.
  • Dr Hai-Rim Shin (World Health Organization, Manilla) is the Coordinator for the Non-communicable Diseases and Health Promotion Unit of the Division of Non communicable Diseases and Health through the Life-Course, World Health Organization, Regional Office for the Western Pacific, Manila, Philippines, since July 2010. Dr Shin holds a concurrent position as Acting Director for the DNH Division, World Health Organization, since 1 August 2017.
  • Dr Jane Skeen is paediatric oncologist at the Starship Blood and Cancer Centre at Starship Children’s Hospital, Auckland. Jane is committed to improving the outcomes of children with Cancer in the Pacific and has been visiting and working with the Pacific Health professionals in Tonga and Samoa since 2006 and more recently in Vanuatu. In 2009 was appointed Chair of the Pacific Island working group.
  • Dr Malama Tafuna’i is a GP and cancer researcher based in Samoa with particular interest in cervical cancer, and palliative care.
  • Dr Andrea Teng is a Public Health Medicine Specialist and Senior Research Fellow at the University of Otago, Wellington. She is working on the Virtual Health Information Network, Healthier Lives National Science Challenge and other research projects including a study examining the feasibility and acceptability of H. pylori screen and treat programme. She is also a HRC Clinical Research Training Fellow and is doing a PhD examining the impact of sugar-sweetened beverage taxes in the Pacific. Andrea’s interests are in epidemiology and public health, particularly in projects and research that promote equity and respond to stakeholder needs
  • Dr Paula Vivili is Director of the Public Health Division at Secretariat of the Pacific Community, based in Noumea, New Caledonia.
  • Dr Lisa Whop is a descendent of the Goemulgal people of Mabuiag Island in the Torres Strait and also has family connections to the darling downs region in South West Queensland. Dr Whop is an epidemiologist in the field of cervical cancer prevention for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander women. She is currently working as a research fellow at Menzies School of Health Research on the National Indigenous Cervical Screening Project and leading the analysis of national data to report the same performance indicators for the national screening program. Her broader research focus is disparities in health and health care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander Australians

Course cost and registration

The cost of the 2-day symposium is $600 early-bird, $800 after 20 December 2017.

A 50% discount is available to University of Otago staff.

A special 2-day rate of $150 (earlybird) and $200 (after 20 Dec) is available to unwaged, full time students and those working in relevant community services, without access to funding for professional development. For details on how to access this rate, please email the course convenor, before you register.

Register now