Pasifika Futures – Engaging with our families

Having been at the forefront of improving health and wellbeing of Pacific people in New Zealand since 1996, Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) has been selected to set up Pasifika Futures.

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Pasifika Future’s establishment came after the Minister of Whanau Ora, Hon. Tariana Turia announced the NZ Government would appoint three non-governmental commissioning agencies to oversee Whanau Ora contracts in the North Island, the South Island and Pasifika communities respectively.

The recently formed commissioning agency Pasifika Futures will manage $30 million over three years which the NZ Government has committed to enhancing the Pacific community’s overall welfare.

Minister Turia says solutions to issues come from every aspect of our life. “Not just from academic lectures and scientific research – but from challenges negotiated on the sports field; in bands and choirs, in church services or at the supermarket – in every sphere we engage.”

Pasifika Futures will oversee a national programme, working with regional based Pacific providers throughout NZ, to tailor support services to individual Pacific families and communities.

Minister for Pacific Island Affairs Hon. Peseta Sam Lotu-liga says Pasifika Futures has the capacity to support and uplift Pacific families.

“It will help them realise their dreams, to believe in themselves and transform them into self-determining families who will make their own decisions for their futures,” he says.

Chairing the Pasifika Futures Board is Dr Kiki Maoate (ONZM, FRACS), a leading paediatric surgeon and paediatric urologist in NZ, based at Christchurch Hospital. He is an advisor to Ministries and Governments in NZ and throughout the Pacific, is President of the PMA, a member of the Minister of Pacific Island Affairs Advisory Committee along with sitting on various other committees and councils.

Wearing the Chief Executive’s hat for Pasifika Futures is Debbie Sorensen. Debbie, who was previously the CEO of PMA, is an experienced CEO, health strategist and management expert specialising in projects addressing challenges facing Pacific populations in NZ and the Pacific.

She works as an advisor to Prime Ministers, Deputy Prime Ministers and Health Ministers around the Pacific region and has worked in the Cook Islands, Kiribati, Nauru, Fiji, New Caledonia, Samoa, the Solomons, Tonga, Tuvalu and Vanuatu. She is a trustee of the Fred Hollows Foundation NZ.

Over the next three years, Pasifika Futures is aiming to work with 3000 families in NZ, putting them on a path to a brighter future, Debbie says.

“We will support Pasifika families to achieve their aspirations in health, housing, education, training and economic development.

“Our priority is to harness the capacity and power of Pasifika networks, culture and communities. Pasifika Futures will encourage innovative solutions to issues faced by families based on local knowledge and experience.” She adds Pacific people are collaborative by nature. “Through Whanau Ora, the solutions to issues confronting our families will be developed by families and communities.”

In the past few months, consultations have taken place with over 600 families across NZ, from Invercargill to Kaitaia. Families have expressed which areas they feel they need assistance with, so Pasifika Futures can develop a framework for when the roll out commences in July, initially through contracted Pacific provider collectives in the different regions.

These families were split into groups depending on their ethnicity and each group across all regions named housing, financial incomes, jobs and health as their priority concerns.

Seini Jensen, Director of Performance and Evaluation of Pasifika Futures, will develop a framework around these priority concerns, attempting to improve outcomes for families in these areas.

The $30 million committed to Pasifika Futures will be divided into two funding streams – one for assisting high, medium and low needs families – and the other as an innovation fund.

Funding will be allocated to assist sports clubs, disability groups, churches and community organisations.

While a lot of funding will go to families and groups known in the community as needing assistance, others who require help will be able to work with their local Pacific providers, who are part of the collective to receive assistance.

The concept of Whanau Ora and Pasifika Futures has been well received within the Pacific community.

Pacific Homecare CEO Hamish Crooks says there are multiple challenges in Pacific homes and while the service’s workers are already making a difference working with these families, he thinks Whanau Ora will take it to another level.

“The closer we can get to the families, the better the outcome will be for us as Pacific people,” Hamish says.

Former Pacific Business Trust CEO Peter Cordtz says changing demographics mean Pacific people are going to be an increasingly important part of the NZ economy.

“Their participation at all levels of the economy is important not just for Pacific people, but for New Zealand as a whole,” he says.

Tufuga Lagatule of the Pacific Trust Canterbury says Whanau Ora means decisions about the future are made by families themselves, not the system.

“The future looks brighter for New Zealand’s Pacific community,” he says.

“They will have more support and backing than ever before, to guide and help them to achieve positive outcomes in life.”
What is Whanau Ora?

– Whanau Ora is a major contemporary indigenous health initiative, which evolved out of the coalition between the National and Maori parties after the 2008 General Election
– It is an approach which recognises that; Whanau problems are best solved by whanau; and to empower children we must work to empower their whanau
– Whanau Ora supports and builds the capability of families to realise their aspirations
– More than 33,000 children and families in communities across NZ have already benefited from Whanau Ora
Why Pasifika Futures?

– A commissioning agency was required with expertise and credibility in reaching Pacific people
– A Pacific organisation is ideally placed to listen, understand and facilitate the links between The Government, service providers and Pacific families
– A Pacific commissioning agency provides opportunity for the Pacific community to take control of its own future