Tala Pasifika Relaunches with new mandate
Tala Pasifika is a new initiative based on an existing idea; to unite Pacific peoples in action and improve health outcomes. The initiative is led by longtime advocate for tobacco control and Pacific wellbeing and health, Lealeilepule Edward Cowley.
Hāpai Te Hauora, is supporting the relaunching of this advocacy group which existed from 2010-2016 as Tala Pasifika: Pacific Voices For Tobacco Elimination.
The new group, now named Tala Pasifika: Pacific Action For Change has a wider mandate; it will advocate for Pacific peoples collectively across all areas of the health spectrum, in the knowledge that all New Zealanders will benefit when barriers to better health are removed.
Friday saw the relaunch of Tala Pasifika at Te Oro in Glen Innes. Attendees included Tuifa’asisina Maria Lafaele from Waitematā District Health Board Funding and Planning, Agnes Loheni MP, Hāpai Te Hauora staff and Pastor Giovani Stowers.
One of the questions posed by Maria Lafaele to the 60 guests at the relaunch was "How can we collectively make decisions to empower our loved ones?" Edward Cowley reminded the crowd that "It’s not just about tobacco control, it’s about coming together".
Maria Lafaele says "Pasifika peoples have a shared legacy of immigration to New Zealand. We have faced similar challenges and found strength in community and churches. There is a common understanding." In terms of the partnership with Hāpai Te Hauora she says "We have been working together and bonds have been formed. We all have a responsibility to the land and the people of the land and to reciprocate the aroha that the people have shared."
Mihi Blair, General Manager of Hāpai Te Hauora National Tobacco Control says "This is timely because Pacific peoples have a right for their voices to be heard. Unfortunately this has been outside of their control, especially in the area of tobacco smoking. The community simply hasn’t been heard as it should be. Smoking rates among Pacific peoples -- 24.4% in the latest health survey --- are a serious concern and Tala Pasifika and Hāpai Te Hauora will work in partnership to ensure all of our voices are heard."
Tala Pasifika will hold its next meeting in early March to consolidate membership and begin setting an agenda based on shared goals and concerns.