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Wednesday 21 February 2024

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.

Register now

Public Health Summer School Banner 2024

Topics covered

  • Pacific health in New Zealand and other Pacific Island nations
  • Health disparities
  • Communicable and non-communicable diseases
  • 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 30 people.

Who should attend?

The course will be useful for people working in 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.

Draft timetable still to come

Teaching staff

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.

Dr Dianne Sika-Paotonu, University of Otago, Wellington

Associate Professor Dianne Sika-Paotonu is an Immunologist, Associate Professor in the Dean’s Department, Fulbright Scholar, Associate Dean (Pacific) / Head of the Pacific Office at the University of Otago, Wellington. She is leading research in drug design for rheumatic fever and rheumatic heart disease prevention, heart health equity and infectious diseases, early cancer detection for vulnerable communities, and collaborating together with Pacific and Māori communities in Aotearoa New Zealand and the Pacific Region.

Dianne has also established, competitively funded research collaborations leading as Principal Investigator across multiple projects nationally and internationally working with collaborators in Australia, USA and Pacific Regional countries such as Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands. Her leadership contributions to these interdisciplinary research projects are scientific based, equity focused and inclusivity driven utilising her Pacific health, scientific and immunological expertise.

Dianne regularly presents at national and international scientific conferences that has included the American Association of Immunologists and Australasian Society of Immunology meetings. She has also been awarded numerous awards relating to her research work and science communication efforts. She has service and leadership responsibilities within the Pacific community and has received HRC Pacific Emerging Researcher and Sir Thomas Davis Te Patu Kite Rangi Ariki Health Research Fellowships.

Tevita Funaki, West Fono Health Trust (The Fono)

Tevita 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.

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.

Other speakers TBC


This course will be held in-person at the Wellington campus of University of Otago in Mein Street, Newtown (next to Wellington Regional Hospital). Specific directions to the course reception/room will be sent the week before the course start.

Course cost and registration

$375 early bird, $500 after Wednesday 20 December 2023.

A 50% discount is available to full-time students, those unwaged and University of Otago staff.

Register now

For more information please contact the course convenor

Contact name
Viliami Puloka or Moira Smith
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