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Supporting the health of Pacific communities through leading research programmes and the training of Pacific health professionals

Talofa lava, Kia orana, Ni sa bula vinaka, Malo e lelei, Fakalofa lahi atu, Halo olaketa, Taloha ni, Namaste, Malo ni, Mauri, Fakatalofa atu.

Warm Pacific greetings and welcome to Pacific at Otago Medical School.

Here at the University of Otago we have a vibrant Pacific community. Otago Medical School contributes to this community by training the next generation of health professionals, and conducting research to inform Pasifika health policy and programmes.

We proudly celebrate the great people, partners and research which contribute to the goal of good health for Pacific communities.

Pacific health

The Otago Medical School supports learning in Pacific health to develop a medical workforce that meets the particular health needs of this key group of the New Zealand population. Its importance in the curriculum is recognised by its development as one of the domains used to organise the medical degree. The Pacific health curriculum within the MB ChB is coordinated by the Va'a o Tautai – Centre for Pacific Health, within the Division of Health Sciences, and the Pacific community is actively involved in curriculum development and delivery.

Va'a o Tautai – Centre for Pacific Health


The Pacific curriculum in Otago's health professional programmes is devised to build foundational knowledge about Pacific communities and applied skills that will help students better serve Pacific patients, their families and the wider community. Pacific teaching is taught in-context, and the methods for teaching includes community immersion experiences ensuring the authentic voice of the Pacific community is incorporated in the teaching.

Pacific outcomes

The medical programme's Pacific content aligns with the Divison's Pacific curriculum learning outcomes.

Pacific Curriculum Learning Outcomes

Curriculum and educational innovation

The Pacific Immersion component of the medical programme involves students learning from Pacific communities within their own cultural context and environment, about their worldview and the important things that influence their health and wellbeing.

Va'a o Tautai – Centre for Pacific Health: Teaching


The Va'a o Tautai – Centre for Pacific Health has developed contacts and protocols around Trainee Intern electives in the Pacific. As Pacific Islands are popular elective locations, this coordination ensures that both students and destinations are best served by the experience. Information is available to students through Moodle.

Volunteer work - for students interested in volunteer or research work either in the Pacific region or in New Zealand amongst Pacific communities.

Contact Frances Brebner, Pacific Regional Coordinator

Pacific students are encouraged to connect with the Va'a o Tautai to access targeted programmes for their specific cultural or other learning needs.


OMS uses research as an important tool in creating change to support health systems to better meet the needs of Pacific communities by placing Pacific voices and perspectives at the centre of research and acknowledging the strength and innovation that exist in communities. Research interests also include healthcare education research.

Va'a o Tautai – Centre for Pacific Health: Research

Pacific medical students have opportunities to apply for Summer Research Scholarships, both through the Schools and the Health Research Council Pacific Health Research scholarships.

Pacific Health Research Summer Studentships



Pacific developments in the Division of Health Sciences are guided by committees including local Pacific community representatives.

Pacific committees

Pacific workforce development

The Otago Medical School admissions strategy includes Te Kauae Parāoa, designed to ensure that we promote and facilitate academic equity for students from under-represented groups, who have the potential to succeed academically, and who have applied via the application process. An initial goal of reaching parity between the MB ChB cohort and national demographics is now being achieved with increasing numbers of Pacific doctors graduating each year.

Te Kauae Parāoa Policy

Numbers of Māori and Pacific students training to be doctors and dentists skyrocket

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