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An organisational approach to cultural competency

Research into New Zealand’s mental health and addictions populations demonstrate that although Pasifika people have high rates of mental illness, Pasifika people have low access rates to services – and when they do access, it tends to be in a crisis situation or when issues have become quite severe.

One way to address the these issues, is to have a workforce that better responds to the needs of Pasifika people, families and communities. Le Va’s Engaging Pasifika Cultural Competency training is a national programme that provides the opportunity for health professionals to learn the foundational skills, knowledge and attitudes to effectively engage with Pasifika people, particularly at the critical first point of contact. 

We’ve found that when it comes to providing the best possible care for our Pasifika people and their families, there are benefits in working with whole organisations and systems.  Recently Le Va had the privilege to deliver tailored Engaging Pasifika programmes for two national organisation’s this year– Emerge Aotearoa Ltd and The Skills Organisation. The benefits of delivering a tailored programme to a single organisation is having senior management, team leaders, administrators and front-line workers all learning the same skills and knowledge to continue collaborating post the workshop, and to enhance more of a systems approach to cultural competency. 

To complement this approach, we developed organizational cultural competency guidelines whereby whole organisations and systems aim to increase access and ensure effective delivery of high quality care and support for Pasifika families and communities. Although the guidelines outlined are framed in a disability context, they are highly transferable to all health providers. 

These guidelines were developed as a result of an analysis of an international and local literature review combined with qualitative interviews with key stakeholders and providers across New Zealand. Click here to download your very own copy and read below what the organisations had to say about our programme.

“We have received positive feedback from over 130 Emerge Aotearoa staff who have completed the Engaging Pasifika programme this year….The application of contemporary clinical models, case studies and visual technical resources helped motivate mainstream staff members to learn more about cultural differences with Pasifika nations, and obtain engagement tools…I acknowledge the team for their mental health, addictions, disability, clinical, cultural and community skills which provided the best practical approaches for our staff members from different ethnic backgrounds and positions… I am so honoured to continue to work alongside the team in future. Soifua ma ia manuia.” 
Rufo Tinai Pupualii, Emerge Aotearoa.


“I cannot speak more highly of any other Professional Development workshop than the Le Va Engaging Pasifika Cultural Competency programme. …The way the team presented was engaging, gentle, thought provoking, and encouraging…The feedback from the staff was that the workshop allowed them to be in a vulnerable space yet a space where they felt comfortable enough to dialogue with each other. This was a huge success for us because it opened their eyes to a world where they saw themselves as not too confident. … Increasing internal cultural capability, was one of our focuses this year and from the general feedback it was of huge value to the Skills staff that attended. Fa’afetai tele lava.”
Tony Laulu, Skills Organisation


“I was delighted that the Le Va workshop was so engaging and well accepted by all cultures in our team who participated.  The feedback from everyone was that they learnt a lot, and now have a better understanding of how to understand and engage with our Pasifika friends.  We had so much fun learning, which is always the best way to learn. From a personal perspective, I was humbled and educated both at the same time!  I’ve been enjoying putting my skills into practice!”
Anna McNicholl, Skills Organisation

If you are a health professional interested in attending one of our workshops, we have two more workshops available this year on the 24 November and 12 December. Please express your interest by contacting Esther Faitala and watch a video by an international expert for more info. 


  For more information, also see: Faleafa, M & Pulotu-Endemann, K. (2016). Developing a Culturally Competent Workforce that Meets the Needs of Pacific People Living in New Zealand. In M. Smith and A. Jury (Ed.’s), Workforce Development Theory and Practice in the Mental Health Sector. IGI Global: USA.
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Covid-19 Update

Face-to-face workshops will not continue while New Zealand is at Level 4. We will be in contact with all participants soon.