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Introduction to Pacific health: Approaches for action

He whakatakinga ki te Hauora Moana-nui-a-Kiwa: Ngā rautaki hohenga

Please note the Wellington course is course is now full but plares still available for the Auckland course. If you would like to go on a waiting list for Wellington please email

Wednesday 3 February 2021 – Wellington
Friday 5 February 2021 – Auckland

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.

We are excited to confirm this course will be available both in Wellington and Auckland.

Topics covered

  1. Pacific health in New Zealand and other Pacific Island nations
  2. Health disparities
  3. Communicable & non-communicable diseases
  4. Approaches to improve Pacific health
  5. Implications for policy, research & 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 Alert Level 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).

If the course is able to be delivered in person, but a participant cannot travel to Wellington/Auckland due to COVID Alert Level restrictions, the course fee will be refunded in full.

Draft timetable

Time Session Presenter(s)
(W) – Wellington
(A) – Auckland
9:00am Welcome

Moira Smith
Viliami Puloka

9:20am What does it mean to be 'Pacific'? Viliami Puloka
9:45am Pacific health and wellbeing, and their determinants Viliami Puloka
10:30am Morning tea  
11:00am Discussion from Session 1 All
11:20am Pacific models of health and their application Sione Tu'itahi
11:45am Update on New Zealand's Pacific Health PolicyMinistry of Health
Ministry of Pacific Peoples
12:15pm Discussion
12:30pm Lunch break  

Working at the community level
Addressing Pacific health and wellbeing at a primary health care / provider level

Cultural competency
Research considerations and ethics

Tevita Funaki

Sione Tu'itahi
Viliami Puloka

2:30pm Discussion
3:00pm Afternoon tea  
3:30pm Case studies in Pacific health and wellbeing: Oral health and diabetes Moira Smith (oral health (Auckland and Wellington)
Viliami Tutone (diabetes (Auckland) TBC (Wellington))
4:30pm Panel discussion
Opportunity to ask questions of day’s speakers and other issues
All speakers
5:00pm Finish

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.

Moira Smith, University of Otago, Wellington

Dr Moira Smith is a Senior Research Fellow, and Deputy Director of the Health Promotion and Policy Research Unit, in the 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.

Course cost and registration

$300 early bird, $400 after Tuesday December 2020.

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

Register now

Note COVID-19 contingency plan above. Any questions please see FAQ page or email