Sarai Tufala

Doctor of Philosophy candidate

Sarai Tufala is of Tuvaluan and part-Tokelauan descent and spent most of her life in Kiribati before migrating to New Zealand in the 1970s when she was 11.

She has a Bachelor of Arts (Hons) in Political Studies and a Master of Health Science from the University of Auckland and then worked in the mental health sector as a Community Mental Health Supporter.

Sarai is passionate about finding out about why Pacific people underutilise mental health services available to them.

“I’ve got the experience as a community member around those suffering from mental illness and experience as a mental health professional.”

Sarai’s current doctoral research at AUT focuses on Tuvaluan's perceptions of mental health. She is investigating why there is a lack of Pacific people utilising services, both from those with mental illnesses and the relatives and community around them.

“You can study the reason why we get mental illnesses, or study the actual illness itself, but I realised engaging mental health services, seeking and receiving treatment, is a problem in itself as studies show Pacific underutilise mental health services.”