Education Policy | Post Primary | Preschool | Primary | Tertiary | Search


Strong Sense Of Self Key To Pacific Sexual Health

Confident Pacific children who grow up to be resilient adults is the goal of a University of Auckland project that has received $442,000 in Health Research Council funding.

Dr Analosa Veukiso-Ulugia has been awarded a Pacific Postdoctoral Fellowship for her project ‘Nesian Narratives – enhancing sexuality education for Pacific communities’.

The three-year initiative will involve the development, pilot and evaluation of a Pacific resource toolkit in sexuality education for New Zealand primary school teachers.

A registered social worker of Sāmoan descent, Dr Veukiso-Ulugia specialises in Pacific youth health and says there is a common misconception about the need for this kind of resource for primary-aged children.

“When people hear ‘sexuality education’ they immediately think about teenage concerns like pregnancy, sexually transmitted diseases and issues of consent,” she says, “but what we’re actually looking at is sexuality in its widest sense.”

Through a series of lesson plans, the project will create targeted messages for young Pacific children about relating to others, developing confidence and a positive sense of self; physically, emotionally and spiritually.

Dr Veukiso-Ulugia believes it’s never too early to feed in positive messages as children’s views about themselves start in early childhood; as does the potential for harm.

“How do we teach our children, for example, to recognise that someone is taking advantage of them, sexually abusing them, without telling them all adults are dangerous? How can we help them tell the difference between healthy and harmful?”

Despite brave advocates, she says there’s been an under investment in sexual health promotion specifically targeted at Pacific communities who sometimes have complex issues of culture, religion and tradition to negotiate.

“Thirty years ago, people were saying there needs to be tailored approaches for Māori and Pacific communities, but there has been very little investment in the Pacific sexual health workforce, including health education and early intervention.

She believes we need to be scaffolding this approach earlier.

“We know Aotearoa suffers high abuse rates and sexual violence, and we’ve seen areas of change, but there is a lot more work to be done.”

However in the meantime, she says the 2020 Sexuality Education Guidelines and the Tāpasa framework are great resources already available to health educators.

“Teachers are doing their best to support our children, however their efforts can be strengthened with culturally-relevant resources and training.”

The project will be hosted by Moana Research, a consultancy group focused on making sure Pacific families can access essential services in their children’s first five years.

It will also receive mentoring support from Associate Professor Katie Fitzpatrick, a sexuality education expert in the University’s Faculty of Education and Social Work, and the University of Auckland’s Pro Vice-Chancellor (Pacific) Associate Professor Damon Salesa, who is delighted to see it get the green light.

“It is powerful to see one of our amazing emerging Pacific researchers making such an impact, and creating these kind of opportunities,” he says. “Analosa’s project will show how we can ethically work in the relational space where research makes a difference in the lives of Pacific peoples, and community priorities can shape that research.”

Dr Veukiso-Ulugia is excited about working with such experienced mentors and the team at Moana, who already have skills and expertise in this area.

“We want to see what’s already out there and have a talanoa (conversation) with teachers and parents to find out how we can do better for our Pacific children and their families. We’ll also hear from the children about what makes them feel good about themselves. Efforts to support our Pacific children will have a positive impact on all New Zealand children.”

Familiar with the issues at the front line, Dr Veukiso-Ulugia has worked as a social worker with Oranga Tamariki (Care and Protection and Youth Justice) in Otara, South Auckland and as an adolescent health social worker at the Centre for Youth Health (CFYH).

For the past four years she has been a lecturer at the University’s School of Counselling, Human Services and Social Work. She holds a Bachelor of Social Work, Master of Public Policy and a PhD from Massey University.

© Scoop Media

Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines


Howard Davis: Dryzabone - Robert Conolly's The Dry

After the terrible devastation caused by last year’s bushfires, which prompted hundreds of Australians to shelter in the ocean to escape incineration and destroyed uncountable amounts of wildlife, The Dry has been released during a totally different kind of dry spell. More>>

Howard Davis: Benjamin Ree's The Painter and The Thief

The Norwegian filmmaker had long been fascinated by art thieves who commit high-stakes crimes with a delicate touch when a chance Google search in 2015 uncovered a botched heist in Oslo. More>>

Howard Davis: Anna Coddington Beams

Anna Coddington's thin, wispy vocals fit her songs beautifully, providing a wonderful lilting quality that pervades her latest album, producing instant ear worms. More>>

Howard Davis: Hit the Road, Jack - Chloé Zhao's Nomadland

Nomadland is perhaps the ultimately 'road' movie as it follows a group of dispossessed and disenfranchised vagabonds who find a form of communal refuge in camp sites and trailer parks after the economic contraction of 2008. More>>

Howard Davis: Byrneing Down the House - Spike Lee's American Utopia

Lee does an admirable job capturing Byrne's stunning live performance of his latest album, but the real star of the show is the staging. More>>

Howard Davis: The Phoenix Foundation Friend Ship Tour Docks in Wellington

A sense of local pride was certainly running high at the Opera House on Saturday night, as the lads ran through a tasty little set drawn mostly from their latest album Friend Ship (splash out for Xmas on the shocking pink extra-thick vinyl edition). More>>

Howard Davis: Avantdale Bowling Club

Auckland rapper and MC Tom Scott brought his stunning jazz-infused Taite Music Prize-winning project Avantdale Bowling Club to the Opera House headlining Wellington's 2020 Jazz Festival. More>>

Howard Davis: Troy Kingi Rules The San Fran

The award-winning Northland musician performed songs from his new record The Ghost of Freddie Cesar, the fourth installment in his 10/10/10 series - ten albums in ten years in ten genres. More>>



  • Wellington
  • Christchurch
  • Auckland