He has always been interested in Pacific health and addressing the needs of Pacific communities, says Dr El-Shadan (Dan) Tautolo.
“Through my tertiary studies, I realised that research was an avenue that could potentially have a big impact in terms of identifying the needs of our vulnerable families, and exploring strategies and solutions that could alleviate some of these burdens.”
As director of the Centre for Pacific Health and Development Research, he manages the Pacific Islands Families (PIF) Study, which has been following almost 1,400 Pacific children and their parents since the children were born at Middlemore Hospital in South Auckland in the year 2000. The interaction with research participants is what he enjoys most about his work, Dan says.
“Working on a longitudinal study, we’re fortunate to establish long-term relationships with our cohort families, and it’s a privilege to be allowed to see and share what is happening in the lives of these families over almost the last two decades.”
Opportunities to make a real difference
AUT is an exciting place to work, says Dan who has been at AUT for ten years.
“The number of Pacific academic staff is increasing, and AUT is actively engaged in becoming the university of choice for Māori and Pacific students.
“Because AUT is a relatively young university, we have the opportunity to contribute to building and shaping an institution that can make a real difference for our communities in South Auckland, which is both extremely valuable and rewarding.”
He appreciates the opportunities staff have access to at AUT, Dan says.
“I’ve worked at other tertiary institutions before, and I think that AUT has far more opportunities for development and progression, especially for Pacific research.”
At the heart of the community
The AUT South Campus is the perfect base for his work and research, Dan says.
“The AUT South Campus in Manukau is a great place to work. It’s a vibrant and diverse environment, exuding a positive energy fuelled by the large number of Māori and Pacific students studying on campus.
“It’s also based in the heart of South Auckland, which is where the vast majority of our research participants reside, allowing us to work alongside the communities we’re interested in supporting through our research.”