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Transforming knowledge focus of HRC Pacific Health Research

17 April 2012

Importance of transforming knowledge is key focus of HRC Pacific Health Research Fono

Fono 2012, through its theme – Pacific Edge – Transforming Knowledge into Innovative Practice – will provide an opportunity for Pacific and non-Pacific peoples, researchers and health professionals from New Zealand, Australia and the Pacific to discuss Pacific health research knowledge that will inform innovative practice.

The Fono is being hosted by the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC), and is being held at the Waipuna Hotel and Conference Centre in Auckland on 18 and 19 April 2012.

“The Fono represents an opportunity to foster skills of young Pacific researchers, to promote networking and information sharing amongst researchers, end-users and communities, and to show that research can inform improvements in health and health care delivery,” says Dr Robin Olds, HRC Chief Executive.

“The Fono also provides a significant opportunity for Pacific and non-Pacific health researchers to present and profile their work, and the HRC is pleased to endorse this,” he says.

This two day event is based around seven streams: Child and Youth, Non Communicable Diseases, Communicable Diseases, New Directions in Health, Disability, Mental Health and Capacity Building.

“We were impressed by the quality of the abstracts submitted for consideration in the Fono Progamme,” says Tagaloatele Professor Fairbairn-Dunlop, Chair of the HRC Pacific Health Research Committee.

“These show quite compellingly that the Pacific health research pool is increasing. We strongly believe that Pacific health research and Pacific researchers are moving into new and strategic directions, which will result in better health outcomes for Pacific peoples in Aotearoa New Zealand and in Pacific countries,” she says.

The Fono brings together a wide variety of exciting speakers from the Pacific health and research communities.

The keynote speaker is Dr Sela Panapasa, who is the Assistant Research Scientist in the Program for Research on Black Americans at the US University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research (ISR). Her work includes research on family support and intergenerational exchanges, population dynamics, racial/ethnic disparities and population-based survey research. She is Principal Investigator for numerous projects, including a study of Pacific Islander American health, the assessment of federal data on Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders, an examination of cancer disparities among US Pacific Islanders, and a consultant on the development of a Comprehensive Plan for Pacific Island United Methodism in the United States.

Dr Panapasa is presently an investigator for the Future Public Health Leaders Program at the University of Michigan, designed to introduce minority and underrepresented undergraduate students to the field of Public Health. For the past three years she has chaired the US Census Advisory Committee on Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islanders. She continues to publish on Native Hawaiian and Pacific Islander health, including a recent article in the American Journal of Public Health on Native Hawaiian mortality patterns across the lifespan. She has received several awards, including the 2011 Health Disparities Research Leadership Award from the New York University School of Medicine’s Center for the Study of Asian American Health and Asian & Pacific Islander American Health Forum.

Dr Panapasa is a Pacific Islander of Rotuman, Tongan, and Tuvalu descent, originally from Fiji. She received her PhD in sociology and demography from Brown University and completed a two year National Institute on Aging post-doctoral fellowship at the ISR Population Studies Center. She is nationally recognised in the United States as an expert on Pacific Islander health.

The Guest Speaker is Hon. Hekia Parata, Minister of Education and Minister of Pacific Island Affairs. Hon. Hekia Parata grew up in Ruatoria and is of Ngati Porou and Ngai Tahu descent. She has lived and worked in Wellington for most of the past 30 years, during which time she has worked in the both the public and private sectors, holding senior policy and management positions, and running a successful consultancy company, which advises clients in New Zealand and internationally, with her husband Sir Wira Gardiner.

The Fono is co-sponsored by the Alcohol Advisory Council of New Zealand, the Auckland District Health Board and the Heart Foundation | Pacific Heartbeat.

Visit the Fono website:


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