Everyone in Aotearoa deserves to live well. For many, this is not the reality. Pacific peoples across Aotearoa are experiencing significant and long-standing health inequities, compared with many other groups. To improve wellbeing outcomes for Pacific peoples, a fresh approach is needed to address the systems and environments that are impacting on Pacific health and wellbeing.
At Healthy Families NZ, we support and enable Pacific communities to improve their health and wellbeing by taking a systems approach to reducing risk factors of preventable chronic disease and increasing health equity.
Our Healthy Families NZ location teams take a whole of community approach to address these complex problems. We recognise that not one organisation, sector or community can do this alone. Instead, the approach harnesses the influence, levers, and momentum of cross sector collaboration to create the collective impact our Pacific communities need and want.
The following stories highlight the Healthy Families NZ approach in action and capture a snapshot of the impact across our localities:
Early last year, Healthy Families South Auckland and Auckland Council launched The Church Plant – Exercise Containers. For many Pacific people, church is a spiritual haven, where there is worship and congregation with extended whānau. It’s a place to connect and build long-lasting relationships. Implemented in Tokaima’ananga Ōtara Tongan Methodist Parish Church and EFKS Samoa East Tamaki, the initiative aims to support Pacific trainers and churches to develop and explore opportunities to use churches as sites for play and recreation. The initiative is a step towards connecting local government with local Pacific communities to build on innovative, inclusive and sustainable alternatives for movement.
Healthy Families Waitākere have been supporting Tāfesilafa’i, an initiative revitalising culturally centred ways of learning amongst young learners and their faiaoga (teachers). Through Tāfesilafa’i, professional learning and development is being delivered in the Samoan language at six Aoga Amata (Samoan early learning centres). The initiative is a way for the Aoga Amata to come together, connect, share, and grow confidence in weaving Samoan cultural values, practices and beliefs into early learning environments. This year Tāfesilafa’i will be extended to six Aoga Amata in South Auckland. The initiative has been recognised as an example of best practice in Community Development and selected to present at the 2023 World Community Development Conference in Darwin in June 2023.
To further encourage physical activity in the Pasifika community, Healthy Families South Auckland partnered with community champions and activators by creating online video resources. The resources incorporate cultural knowledge and traditional games to uplift physical activity for Pacific and Māori communities. Included is the Village Games and video series, showing people how to play traditional games and their value to people. These resources were shared with community leaders with the aim of connecting to Pacific and Māori community organisations so people can learn the origins of their traditional games and how to play the games, as well as highlighting the importance of passing on the traditional games for future generations.
With support from Healthy Families Hutt Valley, John Mainuu, a familiar face in the Lower Hutt community is on a mission to inspire others to take charge of their health and wellbeing while supporting a sense of belonging and community connectedness through Xtreme Hip-Hop Fitness. Beyond the physical benefits of Xtreme Hip-Hop, these classes became a way for members of the Pasifika community to come together and support each other. Many participants felt a sense of community and aiga (family) during the class which helped them stay motivated and committed to their fitness goals.
Healthy Families South Auckland have been on a journey engaging with young people in South Auckland to better understand their mental health needs. Through local insights, the team are supporting a call to action by Pacific Māori young people on the need for an alternative system that prioritises mental wellbeing.
Lead Systems Innovator, Pita Alatini says “This will require service providers coming to the table with local youth to look at what an ideal prevention system could look like for our rangatahi”. The South Auckland team are working in partnership with local youth with the intention to support a co-design exercise to help shape mental health and wellbeing services that are tailored to the young people’s unique cultural contexts and experiences.
As a prevention movement, Healthy Families NZ is committed to improving Pacific peoples’ health and wellbeing aligning to Ola Manuia, Aotearoa’s Pacific Health and Wellbeing Action Plan. At the heart of Ola Manuia is improving the health and wellbeing of New Zealand’s vibrant and growing Pacific population. Achieving this vision requires a shared commitment, one that Healthy Families NZ is demonstrating with effective locally-led action, driven by local leadership whilst being responsive to the local context of our Pacific communities.