Connecting Pasifika in Te Tai Tokerau

Guest blog by Te Hiwi Preston.

As a FLO Talanoa facilitator, and the Te Tai Tokerau (Northland) FLO Ambassador, I delivered the inaugural Pasifika suicide prevention workshop for communities on Thursday, 9 June in Te Tai Tokerau, Northland.

Attendance was high, with 79 registered and 75 attending. Of that group, 32 were from the youth sector enrolled with either an alternative education provider or onto a youth guarantee programme with other providers. 

Connecting Pasifika in Northland is the mission statement for Northland Pacific Island Charitable Trust, of which I am vice-chair. Using the theme and key words ‘Connecting Pasifika’ was one of the main aims of running the workshop in Northland.

Spring of learning and knowledge

During the past five years, the Pasifika community has grown considerably, with more families deciding to relocate and reside in Northland. 

During the past five years, the Pasifika community has grown considerably, with more families deciding to relocate and reside in Northland."

When the panui (flyer) went out for participants to register for the FLO Talanoa workshop, the response was immediate. Within two weeks, workshop registration numbers grew to 50 prompting the need for specific Pacific initiatives.

Overall, the experience of engaging with participants via email, teleconference and kanohi ki kanohi (face to face) about the subject of suicide from a Pacific context was empowering. 

As the Northland Ambassador, I had the task of finding a venue and location that was inviting, warm and expressed Pasifika from a holistic and wellbeing lens.

With attendance increasing to surprising numbers, the obvious venue presented itself in Te Puna o Te Matauranga Marae – translating into “Spring of Learning and Knowledge”.  NorthTec put their hands up to host this auspicious event on the marae with a powhiri/mihi whakatau taking place to welcome manuhiri and mana whenua. 

Pasifika values inspire the pathway ahead 

The group of young people who attended provided elements of brilliance and enlightenment.

Many shared how suicide can be prevented among their peers if we implemented the following values: love, support, respect and safe spaces for engagement. Of the 32 young people who attended, seven identified as Pacific with the vast majority being of Māori descent.

The group of young people who attended provided elements of brilliance and enlightenment. Many shared how suicide can be prevented among their peers if we implemented the following values: love, support, respect and safe spaces for engagement."

Preventative resources for Pacific communities in Northland are needed, with more engaging ways of delivering Pacific pathways within Northland’s Pacific communities. 

FLO Talanoa did exactly that, with some expressing that more needs to be done. 

A second workshop in July has been confirmed and will be delivered on Tuesday, 19 July with 52 people registering so far. An expression of interest for the far north regions of Kaitaia and Kaikohe has been ear marked for prospective community workshops. The June and July workshops will provide a baseline for individuals who will be selected to register for the facilitator’s workshop. 

I would like to acknowledge Le Va, in particular Leilani Fina’i Clarke and Denise Kingi-Ulu’ave for their constant support and guidance, to my co-facilitator Anne Fitisemanu who helped with the delivery of the June workshop. 

Finally, here are some images from the June workshop which was at Te Puna o Te Matauranga Marae (NorthTec, Raumanga Campus Marae).

Read more
Suicide prevention