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Turia: Opening of new offices for Vaka Tautua, Porirua

Hon Tariana Turia

Associate Minister for Health

22 October 2013 SPEECH

Opening of new offices for Vaka Tautua, Porirua

I am so happy to be with you today, to celebrate the opening of your new stand-alone office in Porirua.

I want to acknowledge the dignitaries and leaders of our Pasefika communities living here in the greater Wellington region. I pay my first respects to our officiating minister, Reverend Perema Leasi for your leadership in our hui.

I acknowledge the tautoko of Ngati Toa Rangatira, tena koe e Taku.

Greetings to our newly returned Mayor Nick Leggett, and to local MP Kris Faafoi.

This is a particularly special day for the Chief Executive of Vaka Tautua – Carmel Sepuloni; the Board Chair, Dr Siale Foliaki; the staff and all the team that have joined with us today.

It is a significant day to signal a new start. The partnership that you have forged with Pathways to offer the Pacific arm of the Capital and Coast District Health Board Navigation Service is the most recent initiative – but it builds on a solid background established with disability information and advice; the Like Minds project; mental heatlh services and general support for the health and wellbeing of Pasefika peoples.

In recognition of the importance of beginnings – and that all critical sense of location location location, I want to share a poem with you, written by Karlo Milo, simply entitled ‘Where are you from?’

“No hea koe?”
The East-Coast-eyed kuia says to me.
“Palmerston North” I reply (this means I whakapapa to nowhere here; don’t be mistaken by the face that looks like one of your own).

Where are you from?
The Palangi asks. “Originally, my father is Tongan,” I say, my eyes locked on hers “and my mother is Pakeha” (the P-word, her face is pink, eyes averted by what we have in common).

Where are you from? The Tongan lady asks, her hair austere, eyebrows high like question-marks.
“Kolofo’ou,” I reply. “My mother is a Palangi”. (She can tell where I come from, vowels tight, like they could fit square on any sans serif font).

“Are you a Tongan?” she asks.
I am not sure if this is a question.

There is much in Karlo’s poem for us to contemplate. The meaning of identity; where do we belong; to whom do we descend from are the vital issues of life that all of us share in common.

That is what distinguishes you here in Vaka Tautua – all of your staff are from Pasefika roots; and your languages and your traditions define who you are and how you are with the people who come through these doors.

I want to be frank – the situation for our Pasefika peoples living in Aotearoa is often fraught with difficulties.

Pasefika peoples are four times more likely to be admitted acutely to hospital than their palangi counterparts.

There are significantly higher admission rates for asthma; diabetes; stroke; serious skin infections and many long term conditions. We are also very concerned that Eastern Porirua has one of the highest rates of rheumatic fever in this country.

But it is not just about facts and figures – a crucial systemic fault is seen in the fact that health outcomes often remain worse for Pasefika people with access to health care a key issue. That is where by Pasefika for Pasefika is so crucial.

The kaupapa that drives these businesses must have their foundations in Nga Vaka o Kaiga Tapu. The health workforce needs staff that are culturally competent – that is, they understand Pasefika values and are confident to work with Pasefika families.

There is a cultural context for everything we do, and it is about trusting in yourselves to find the answers and results that you seek for your people.

That recognition that Pasefika families are active participants in their own health and wellbeing sits really well with the concept of Whanau Ora.

I have been so inspired and excited by the ways in which Pasefika providers have taken up Whanau Ora as embodying the spirit, heart, mana and inherent dignity of Pasefika families.

From what I know already about Vaka Tautua, your experience, your expertise and most of all your passion is about delivering for and with Pasefika communities – being driven by their aspirations; focusing on your priorities.

Your commitment to Pasefika families is about encouraging them to be ‘partners in care’ - actively sharing in decision-making processes; placing the family, the aiga, at the centre of all things.


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