Yesterday morning saw a ‘full house’ at Waipuna Conference Centre, with more than 300 people coming together for the GPS Growing Pacific Solutions for our families conference, organised by Le Va.

The conference is the first of its kind and is aimed specifically at addressing mental health, addiction and disability issues within New Zealand’s Pacific community.

The Hon. Tariana Turia, Associate Minister of Health and Minister Disability Issues, was part of the official conference opening ceremony which was a moving combination of cross-cultural welcomes, prayers and songs.

Other highlights of the day included...

Associate Professor Joseph Betancourt (Harvard University, USA)

Dr Betancourt spoke about the importance of cultural competency – the need for practitioners to understand the social context of those that they work with, including their culture, upbringing, and beliefs (to name a few).

Dr Jeremy Stanley (orthopaedic surgeon, Auckland)

Dr Stanley is the youngest ever Pacific orthopaedic surgeon may also be known for his rugby background where he played for the All Blacks and the Highlanders in the 1990s. In his moving address ‘From All Black to All Bones’, Dr Stanley outlined the struggles he encountered juggling a professional sporting career while pursuing his dream to become a doctor.

The day concluded with a conference dinner full of Pacific entertainment and the awarding of the annual Pacific Health awards and scholarships.

The conference continues today with a hot hula fitness class this morning and a whole new line up of national and international speakers.

Photo gallery

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