New AUT paper recognises Pacific approaches to health

28 Jul, 2015
New AUT paper recognises Pacific approaches to health
(L-R): Senior Lecturer in Public Health Sari Andajani and Bachelor of Health Science (BHSc) in Health Promotion student Tessa Seu.

Health Promotion students studying at the Auckland University of Technology’s South Campus will gain in-depth knowledge of Pacific health following the introduction of a new pacific-focused health paper as of this semester.

Fonua Ola: Pasifika Health is the first of its kind at AUT, and will benefit anyone working in, or wanting future careers in, health promotion, health practice, research, policy and programme development.

Senior Lecturer in Public Health, and co-convenor of the paper, Sari Andajani says Pacific health study is especially important in New Zealand, and in the Manukau region in particular.

“Manukau is home to New Zealand’s largest Pacific population. Having a deep, engrained understanding of working with communities of diverse cultural backgrounds is a key factor in successfully influencing the wellbeing of our growing Pacific communities.”

The paper will take a pan-disciplinary approach – it will bring in experts from different fields across the University and industry to delve into Pacific world view, concepts and models that are central to Pacific health and wellbeing.

Topics covered include current strategies to promote positive Pacific health outcomes, social, political and economic influences, environmental issues, and Pacific culture and migration history.

“It will take a critical look at our indigenous Pacific concepts and world view of health to better inform effective health practices and healthy public policy in New Zealand for the benefit of our Pacific communities,” says Andajani.

South Campus student and local Manukau resident Tessa Seu is in her second year of a Bachelor of Health Science (BHSc) in Health Promotion and is looking forward to learning about best practice in Pacific health.

“I’m a big advocate for greater focus on Pacific health. It’s one of the biggest challenges in our South Auckland region.

“More education in this area will help inform better holistic health for our Pacific people,” says Seu.

“I can’t wait to help shape dialogue and implement strategies for positive Pacific health outcomes once I enter the workforce.”

Local Tongan community leader and Dietician Consultant Soana Muimuiheata is an advocate for increased Pacific health learning and teaching in New Zealand.

“It’s great to see AUT take on board this priority area for our Pacific peoples through the introduction of specific Pacific-focused health teaching.

“This paper is an opportunity for both Pacific and non-Pacific peoples to look at an issue that impacts a big proportion of New Zealand’s population, and focus on impactful solutions that they can then go on to act upon once they enter the workforce,” says Muimuiheata.

“There’s more to ‘health’ than just health. Pacific health is a constantly fast-changing landscape that needs focused attention, and our future health leaders have a big role to play in effecting positive change.”

Fonua Ola: Pasifika Health forms part of the BHSc in Health Promotion. However, all students interested in this area of study and who meet eligibility criteria can apply.