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Introduction to Pacific Health: Approaches for Action

He whakataki ki te Hauora Moana-nui-a-Kiwa: Ngā ara hei kōkiri kaupapa

Monday 10 February 2020 – Wellington
Friday 14 February 2020 – 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.

Draft timetable

Time Session Presenter(s)
(W) – Wellington
(A) – Auckland
9:00am Welcome Viliami Puloka/Moira Smith

What does in mean to be Pacific?

Pacific health concepts

Viliami Puloka

Corina Grey (A&W)
Debbie Ryan (A)

10:30am Morning tea  

From policy to primary care – how the health system addresses Pacific health.  

20 minutes each speaker + time for questions

Laupepa Va’a (W&A)
Ministry of Health

Elaina Lauaki-Vea (W)
John Tuamoheloa (A)
Office of Pacific Peoples

Primary Health Organisations
Tevita Funaki, The Fono (A)
Dr Alvin  Mitikulina (W)

Dr Alvin Mitikulina (W)
Dr. Glenis Mafi (A)
12:30pm Lunch break  
1:30pm Working with Pacific communities  
Engaging the Pacific community ‘Aivi Puloka (W&A)
Cultural competency
Research considerations and ethics
Rose Richards,
University of Otago (W&A)
Preparing the workforce Sione Tuitahi
Health Promotion Forum (W&A)
3:00pm Afternoon tea  
3:20pm Impact of the climate crisis on Pacific communities’ food supply: a case study Taholo Kami
Special Representative for Oceans at Government of Fiji
3:45pm Putting theory into practice Course attendees
4:15pm Panel discussion
Opportunity to ask questions of day’s speakers
All speakers
5:00pm Finish

Teaching staff

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 Moira Smith is a senior Research Fellow in 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.

Dr Rose Richards is Associate Dean (Pacific) for the Dunedin School of Medicine, Director of the Centre for Pacific Health in Va'a o Tautai, Division of Health Sciences, and convenor for the new Pacific and Global Health major in the Bachelor of Health Sciences.

Rose's background is in behavioural psychology and public health and she collaborates on research across a number of areas. She is currently Principal Investigator on a HRC Pacific Project about sleep health among Pacific families and part of the Big Data team of the Better Start National Science Challenge. As former co-Director of the Cancer Society and Behavioral Research Unit she has published across a variety of cancer prevention areas, including physical activity, nutrition, tobacco control and supportive care.

Elaina Lauaki-Vea is a Policy Advisor at the Ministry for Pacific Peoples. Of Tongan descent, Elaina hails from Felemea, 'Uiha, and Faleloa; Ha'apai. She completed her Bachelor of Arts in 2015, majoring in Political studies and Sociology, and has previously held roles at the Treasury, Office of Ethnic Communities, and frontline at the Ministry for Social Development. Away from work, she sits on the Governance Group for the Wellington Rape Crisis Organisation, and volunteers where she can as a mentor to tertiary students and other young professionals who are new in their career journeys.

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.

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.

Dr Debbie Ryan, Principal, Pacific Perspectives – Debbie's qualifications and memberships include: MBChB, Masters in Public Management (Distinction), currently writing a PhD through Victoria University of Wellington. Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit. Certificate in Company Direction, Institute of Directors in NZ.Institute of Directors in NZ Member.Institute of Public Administration NZ Member. Royal New Zealand College of General Practitioners Member.Recipient Pasifika Medical Association Life Award.

Dr Corina Grey is a Public Health Physician from the University of Auckland.

Sione Tuitahi is the Executive Director of the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand Runanga Whakapiki Ake I Te Hauora o Aotearoa. 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 was the Vice President (2013-2019) of the International Union for Health Promotion and Education (IUHPE) for the South West Pacific Region. He is a member of the Global Executive Board of IUHPE, and its Vice-President for Communications, 2019-2022. IUHPE is an umbrella organisation for health promotion professionals and institutions throughout the world.

Dr Laupepa Va'a is a Public Health Medicine Specialist at the Ministry of Health, New Zealand. He is a doctor of Samoan descent with a passion for Public health. His interests are in Pacific Health, health inequality and inequity, the social determinants of health, food environments and noncommunicable diseases.

Course cost and registration

$300 early bird, $400 after 19 December 2019.

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

Register now