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Le Va Growing Pacific Solutions 2.0 Conference

Hon Tariana Turia

Associate Minister for Health

Tuesday 4 March 2013

Le Va Growing Pacific Solutions 2.0 Conference

Holiday Inn, Mangere, South Auckland

Ni sa bula vinaka, Talofa lava, Kia orana, Taloha ni, Malo e lelei, Fakalofa lahi atu, Talofa, Tena koutou katoa.

Thank you Reverend Uesifili Unasa for the opening prayer and helping to set the scene for such an important fono.

As we gather here today, at this national conference in Growing Pacific solutions, I want to acknowledge some of the shakers and movers who have helped to shape the agenda of these two days, including:

· Our distinguished guest; Dr Joseph Betancourt from Harvard Medical School;
· Our friend and colleague, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, Director-General of the Secretariat of the Pacific Community;
· Dr. Francis Agnew, a member of both Le Va and Waka Hourua;
· Dr Monique Faleafa, and the Le Va team;
· the Waitemata DHB and Northern Region Matua Council who opened the conference,
· the Faiva Ora National Leadership Group,
· Fa’amatuainu Tino Pereira, our Conference Convener; and
· Hilda Fa’asalele, Chief Advisor Pacific- Ministry of Health.

If I think of the list of contributors I just named it might seem we have a virtual village of our own to help set in motion the mindshift we seek.

But of course the greatest movers and shakers in any village are our families. They are faced with decisions at every point of their journey which will influence the future growth and wellbeing of their families. It is for the people, therefore, that this is a conference is dedicated.

Included amongst our agenda over these two days is the fabulous Sistema Aotearoa orchestra; theatre; comedy; creative dance and even the NRL – the National Rugby League.

In short, we have the passion and vigour of life along with ample discussion about the challenges we inevitably face.

I have to say I love that fierce determination to be proudly Pasifika.
It is absolute proof that the solutions to the issues we face are embedded within us, within our communities, within our cultures.

What the conference agenda demonstrates so well is that our solutions will come from every aspect of our life – not just from academic lectures and scientific research – but from challenges negotiated on the sportsfield; in bands and choirs; in church services or at the supermarket– in every sphere in which we engage.

Two years ago I had the honour of opening the first Growing Pacific Solutions Conference. And so I want to commend Le Va and all who are here today who have worked tirelessly to progress the outcomes of the 2012 conference and to come here, bigger, bolder and braver about the possibilities and the solutions that will appear over these next two days.

There is a Niuean proverb which resonates well with the theme of our conference

"Fuluhi ki tua ke kitia mitaki a mua" –
“Turn backwards so that we may see forward as well.”

In that wonderful way we do across Te Moananui a Kiwa, that concept is familiar to tangata whenua in our words - Ka tika a muri, ka tika a mua – which reminds us that to move forward we need to acknowledge the past, and to honour the past we must move forward.

This is a statement that I live by.

Wherever I walk I know that I bring my ancestors with me – that I am fortunate to be following in the footsteps of my tupuna. They have carved out a path for me to follow, and it is my life’s work to cherish the example they have left for us all to emulate.

In healing the past, in honouring our ancestors and learning from their legacy we are also building a future to enable all our people to thrive.

The concept of growing pacific solutions is about building momentum amongst our communities by first and foremost being responsive and respectful of the nations from which they come.

I have to say I love the coincidence of the code name for Growing Pacific Solutions being GPS.
Now some of you may have the GPS maps app on your phone – if not ask your children or grandchildren to show you! It’s a handy little application which allows you to type in the street address you are looking for and you are immediately given a choice of routes to walk or drive until you reach your destination.

All of us can be lifelong GPS navigators – we can help our families to set their plans for their life journey; and we can help to plot out the best pathway until they too can proclaim they have arrived.

And if along the way they wander down a detour, we must be prepared to engage with them, to keep lines of communication open and to re-route until we are back on a track moving forward to our future.

This conference is our opportunity to stand up and demand a better future on our own terms, for all families who are from the various Pasifika nations.

In this sense, there is no more pressing priority for me than the tragic loss of life we witness through the impact of suicide amongst our communities.
I am particularly disturbed at the numbers of Pacific young people we have lost; our young leaders who are taken from us by a misery of the heart that is often so complex it is hard for any of us to comprehend.

Health professionals tell me that Pacific people experience mental disorders at higher levels than the general population but are less likely to seek help and face more barriers to accessing mental health services than other people.

That worries me on many levels.

I am concerned if our services are not responding to the needs of Pasifika peoples when they are unwell. It is vital that cultural views and beliefs are not only understood but acknowledged by health care professionals particularly when dealing with the mind.

I am concerned when I know that given the youthful structure of both Maori and Pasifika populations – and the expected population increase – we must act now to protect our future.

And most of all I am concerned that we must have support in place for our families who have to face the trauma and devastation of losing one of their loves ones.

The prevention of suicide is both complex and challenging, and no single initiative or organisation can work wonders on its own. A comprehensive and coordinated approach is required across government and non-government organisations, and in partnership with communities.

Everyone has a role to play in suicide prevention, the Government of the day, aiga and whānau, our communities, and health care professionals alike. We have to have collective action. It is only by joining hands together that we will make the difference.

In recognising the magnitude and urgency of effective suicide prevention for Pasifika and Maori, the New Zealand Suicide Prevention Action Plan that was launched last year states a commitment

“To build the capacity of Maori whanau, hapu, iwi and Pasifika families and communities to prevent suicide.”

In essence what we are saying is that we – as Government – are placing faith in our families to do what they believe will make the difference.

This is our first ever Pacific Suicide Prevention programme.
Today, it gives me great pleasure to announce the launch of Waka Hourua - the National Maori and Pasifika Suicide Prevention Programme which Le Va, in a joint arrangement with Te Rau Matatini, have responsibility for implementing.

The programme aims to build strong and resilient Pacific families and communities, to address at risk groups and assist those Pacific families who have suffered the impact of suicide.

I congratulate Le Va on taking the lead of such a significant project.

I am also very pleased to announce, that as part of the national programme, a one-off $2 million community fund has also been launched. The fund will invest in a number of areas:

· to create tools and resources and good practices that assist Pacific and Maori communities to implement their own suicide prevention initiatives;
· to develop appropriate suicide prevention training;
· one-off packages of support to Pacific and Maori communities experiencing chronic suicide;
· and to respond specifically to risk and/or suicide contagion clusters.

I warmly encourage all of you who work with community groups in suicide prevention to apply.

Finally, I want to end my korero this morning, in acknowledging the forty three recipients for the Mental Health and Addictions scholarship who are with us as well as the twenty Pacific leaders who undertook the Le Tautua Emerging Leaders training programme.

This is so truly exciting to be surrounded by the breadth and quality of leadership we have within this room.

Each of you has a role to play in improving our Pacific health outcomes and most importantly ensuring our people from the Pacific are set up to succeed and to sail with confidence to their ultimate destination.

And if I can play any role in helping set those co-ordinates for the journey our family must travel, it would be firmly located on finding whatever it takes that will help to keep our families well and happy.

For me, I know whenever there are moments of doubt, I go to te awa o Whanganui to restore to myself the presence of mind I need to continue. For others, it may be to simply sit at home with all their family around; or to sit in the quiet of the chapel; or the noise of the marketplace.

Each of you will have special places, special people; special reasons to reset the frame; to get back on board the waka and travel full steam ahead. I hope that during the shared talk sessions of this fono, you also have some quiet moments to reflect, to think about your own strategies and support to keep you well.

You are all very important people in this journey of ours – but never as important as you are to the ones who love you as their own.

I wish you all the best in the discussions to follow over the two days of this conference and I thank you all in advance for your contributions and commitment.

If today is the beginning of becoming an activist for your people - all power to you. I invite you to all become activists. Activism is about doing what is right. Do what is right for your people - within your own cultural norms.


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