Thursday 24 March 2022 10:01am
Va'a o Tautai Staff making up health and wellbeing packs for students
An initiative to support 1500 Pacific students through the effects of COVID-19 has launched in Dunedin.
The Va’a o Tautai – Centre for Pacific Health is partnering with the Ministry of Health to provide Pacific students at the University of Otago and Otago Polytechnic with a healthcare pack.
This is in recognition of the needs of this cohort of students, with national trends of high COVID infections amongst Pacific communities.
For the past ten years Va’a o Tautai has partnered with the Ministry of Health to provide comprehensive wrap-around support programmes for Pacific students in Health Sciences.
As Omicron numbers rose dramatically with students travelling back to Dunedin for the academic year, Va’a o Tautai held discussions with the Ministry for additional support.
“Our team engaged with the Ministry of Health about COVID support for Pacific students at Otago, and we are delighted they agreed to support our collective efforts,” says Faumuina Professor Fa’afetai Sopoaga, Director, Va’a o Tautai.
“This initiative will further support University-wide initiatives, including Otago University Student Association initiatives, to support the needs of all students at our university.”
Katie Fesolai (3rd year Pharmacy student) receiving her pack from Iacinta Lucas (Programme Coordinator). Katie was the first student to collect her pack.
Most Pacific students at the University are from out of town, and do not have access to the networks of support they have at home.
Pacific staff at Va’a o Tautai are working with colleagues across the University and Polytech to ensure that students are supported, feel safe and are not adversely affected as they isolate in their flats due to themselves or flatmates testing positive for Covid.
The healthcare packs include facemasks, lozenges, vaporub, paracetamol, tissues and Pacific support packaged in the form of Pacific blessing cards in indigenous languages.
Pacific students within the Division of Health Sciences in Dunedin began to receive these packs from the 21 March, with support for all other Pacific students of the University and Polytechnic rolled out the following week.
Ka aalo auloa e vaka, to holo hako moe tonu, ati hoko mafiti ke he atu moana.
When everyone rows together in unison, the vaka/canoe will stay true and fast to the course and make it to the destination quickly and efficiently - Niuean Proverb.
Any enquiries can be sent to Va’a o Tautai-Centre for Pacific Health at email@example.com