Cutting Edge 2016

The 2016 Cutting Edge conference is the annual addictions sector conference held throughout New Zealand, giving an opportunity for the sector to get together, network and learn about new innovative thinking and practice. This year’s conference is in Rotorua on 7 – 9 September. 

The Drua Pasifika addiction network holds a preconference fono the day before the main conference annually, which this year started on Tuesday, 6 September. 

A number of our friends and connections are keynote speakers this year: Dr Vili Nosa senior lecturer and Head of Pacific Health, University of Auckland; Mike King, leading work in suicide prevention through the Key To Life Trust; and Tupu Services, an Auckland-based Pacific Alcohol and Drug (AOD) & Gambling service under Takanaga a Fohe and the Waitemata District Health Board.

Authentic connection

Tupu Services senior clinician Dwaine Faletanoa’i, who leads the Youth Team at Tupu Services, talked to Le Va’s cultural and relationship manager Saveatama Eroni Clarke about  the importance of creative theatre as a way of authentically connecting with Pasifika audiences – and ensuring that services and supports are accessed and used. 

Tupu’s latest drama is called “The Laulau” and is co-written by Tupu service staff Asena Lameko and Faavae Simamao. It centres around the immediate aftermath of the suicide of Sina, a Niuean wife and mother of three.  

Her family highlight the unassuming lead-up to the tragedy, the search for signs, who if anyone to blame, and the revelation of a double life of alcohol and drug addiction.  

Connecting culture and care in health services

Sina’s husband Meha reluctantly seeks the help of health services after the family reaches boiling point.  The drama highlights key Samoan cultural values of “Fa’aleagaga” (spirituality) and “Aiga” (family) and which, ultimately, are seen as central to successful engagement and intervention between the service and the family. 

Each scene centralises around the Laulau (or table) as the cornerstone or centrepiece of domestic living and ultimately celebration and success. It is a place where the family gather to have both light and heavy hearted discussions, ask the hard questions, contemplate and reflect.  The significance of the laulau stems from the enormous significance of the ‘laulau’ in the Bible and religious settings – the Lord’s table; a holy place of thanksgiving and remembrance of the Lord’s death for the salvation of others. 

Spirituality, inclusiveness, positivity are key…

By no means does the drama attempt to epitomise the Biblical teaching, but rather highlight the spiritual metaphor of the Laulau’a as a place which has no room for anger, drugs, violence and dysfunction, but rather for thanksgiving, family growth and unity and celebration. 

Feedback from the sector indicates current Pasifika issues are clear and succinct. Promote key message of spirituality (Faith, Love and Hope in God) and family inclusiveness is seen as reinforcing positivity and a strengths-based approach for Pasifika. 

The Tupu team are all practitioners and none are trained actors or stage performers.  Due to the business of day-to-day core services, it has meant limited availability of time allocated for Tupu’s Clinicians to rehearse.

Tupu Services perform regularly at Cutting Edge conferences, leaving the audience in awe at the portrayal of Pasifika lives impacted by alcohol and drugs. This year’s drama highlights protective factors for Pacific but will no doubt have the same effect on the 2016 audience.  


The Tupu Services team will be performing The Laulau at the Cutting Edge conference. The play was co-written by Asena Lameko and Faavae Simamao (centre).
About the author •
As Cultural and Relationships Manager, former All Black Saveatama Eroni Clarke connects and builds partnerships with stakeholders and ensures cultural appropriateness and safety is maintained across all of Le Va’s projects.

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.