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Tuesday 7 February 2023

Introduction to Pacific Health: Approaches for action will provide an introduction to key concepts, issues and effective actions in Pacific health from evidence and community-based perspectives. Students will learn about the cultural and demographic trends, key priorities and ways of overcoming current challenges.

Topics covered

  • Pacific health in New Zealand and other Pacific Island nations
  • Health disparities
  • Communicable and non-communicable diseases: syndemic; climate crisis
  • Approaches to improve Pacific health
  • Implications for policy, research and practice

Style of course

Small group – i.e. teaching and discussion in a group of up to 25 people.

Who should attend?

The course will be useful for people working in the public health, primary health care, and community sectors seeking to expand their knowledge base and better understand the health issues facing Pacific people. It will also be of interest to postgraduate students and researchers. The lessons learnt from this course can be applied to improve Pacific health outcomes.

COVID-19 contingency plan

If COVID restrictions prevent in-person/face-to-face delivery of this course, it will be delivered online the same day, and a credit of $100 given ($50 for those paying staff/student rate).

Draft timetable

Time Session Presenter(s)
9:00am Welcome and introductions Moira Smith
9:20am What does it mean to be 'Pacific'? Viliami Puloka
10:00am Pacific health and wellbeing Moira Smith
10:30am Morning tea
10:45am Pacific models of health and their application Sione Tu'itahi
11:15am Update on New Zealand's Policy to advance Pasifika health and wellbeing Viliami Liava'a
12:00pm Research considerations and ethics Rose Richards
12:45pm Lunch break
1:30pm Pacific health providers: the challenges of aligning services with community's needs Tevita Funaki
2:30pm Discussion
3:00pm Afternoon tea
3:20pm Benefits and harms from COVID-19: lessons learnt Colin Tukuitonga
4:20pm Panel discussion
Opportunity to ask questions of day's speakers and other issues
All speakers
5:00pm Finish

Teaching staff

Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu, University of Otago, Wellington

Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu is the Scientific Lead for the Rheumatic Fever and Penicillin Research Programme based in New Zealand and the Associate Dean (Pacific) at the University of Otago, Wellington. She is also a member of the Royal Society Te Apārangi Council, National Science Challenge Healthier Lives Science Leadership Team and Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC) Pacific Health Research Committee.

Dianne holds service and leadership responsibilities within the Pacific community and is an HRC Pacific Emerging Research Fellow, and recent recipient of the Sir Thomas Davis Te Patu Kite Rangi Ariki Health Research Fellowship from HRC. Dianne is also a member of the Takiala Pacific Leadership Network within the Health Sciences Division and Pacific Academic Staff Caucus Committee for the University of Otago.

She sits on numerous local and University of Otago based Committees, in addition to International Governance Boards. She also functions as Chair and Convenor for Rheumatic Fever and Penicillin related Pacific Research Advisory Groups.

Moira Smith, University of Otago, Wellington

Dr Moira Smith is a Senior Research Fellow in and Deputy Director of the Health Promotion and Policy Research Unit, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington. Moira trained as a dentist. Her research interests are public health, child health, oral health and Pacific health. Moira has conducted research in NZ investigating Pacific children's oral health, and with Viliami Puloka and Louise Signal, was an investigator on the Kids'Cam Tonga study.

Sione Tu'itahi, University of Otago, Wellington and Health Promotion Forum

Sione Tu'itahi is the Executive Director of the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand Runanga Whakapiki Ake I Te Hauora o Aotearoa (HPF), and Senior Research Fellow, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington.

An educator, author and health promotion professional, his areas of interest in health promotion include determinants of health, human rights, community development, public policy, and workforce development. Sione is a member of the Global Executive Board of the International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE), and is Vice-President for Communications. IUHPE is an umbrella organisation for health promotion professionals and institutions throughout the world.

Sione joined HPF in 2005 after six years as Pacific Manager at the Auckland Regional Public Health Service. He has also taught at a number of tertiary educational institutions. For more than 10 years he led the building of Pacific capacity at Massey University.

A former journalist and broadcaster, Sione is the author of a number of books, academic papers, and children's stories. As a voluntary community worker, he is a member of several national advisory groups in the education, health and community sectors.

Viliami Puloka, University of Otago, Wellington

Dr Viliami Puloka is a Research Fellow in the Health Promotion and Policy Research Unit, Department of Public Health, University of Otago, Wellington. He is also a Senior Health Promotion Strategist specialising in Pacific Health with the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand.

Viliami supports and facilitates Pacific research in New Zealand and in the Pacific. His vast experience and network in the Pacific region allows for effective and meaningful engagement with Pacific communities. He has a special interest in diabetes and obesity and believes “Diabetes is the Face of NCD in the Pacific”

He led the fight against non-communicable diseases with the Pacific Community (SPC) supporting the 22 Pacific Island countries and Territories. He was the head and team leader of the Healthy Pacific Lifestyle Unit for almost a decade before moving to New Zealand in 2014. Before that, Viliami worked as a clinician, as well as public health practitioner in Tonga.

Viliami has a Diploma of Dermatology from Bangkok Institute of Dermatology; Bachelor of Medicine, Bachelor of Surgery from the University of Papua New Guinea, and Bachelor of Arts and Master of Public Health from the University of Hawaii.

Tevita Funaki, West Fono Health Trust (The Fono)

Tevita Funaki is the CEO of West Fono Health Trust (The Fono). Prior to joining The Fono, Tevita was the Pacific Health Manager for ProCare Health Ltd and was the National Pasifika Liaison Advisor for Massey University. He has also managed an Employment Consultancy and Project Management Services firm and worked in health services.

Tevita attended the Otago University and graduated with a BCom in 2000 and a Post Graduate Diploma in Project Management from Unitec in 2007. Completed MOH/MPIA Leadership programme. Also successfully completed the Harvard Business School, Executive programme on Behaviour Economics: Understanding and Shaping Customer and Employee Behaviour 2016/10 and Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management 2017/06.

Currently, Tevita is the Chair of Oceania Career Academy Ltd, Chair of ProCare Network Ltd and Pacific Advisory Board. He is also the Chair of the Unitec Fono Faufautua committee. Member of NZ Police Commissioner National Pacific Board, Waitemata Police District Commander's Pacific Advisory Board and member of the Waitakere Taskforce on Family Violence. He is an active member of the Pasifika community for West Auckland and a strong advocate for Pacific peoples' wellbeing. He is part of the Avondale Tongan Catholic community; the Board of Trustees' Chairperson for St Mary's School, Avondale and sits at a number of community boards.

Sir Colin Tukuitonga – University of Auckland

Viliami Liava'a – Ministry for Pacific Peoples

Associate Professor Rose Richards, University of Otago, Dunedin Campus

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