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DRUA at Cutting Edge

The annual DRUA Fono, is an opportunity for the Pasifika Addictions sector to gather, network and fellowship, every year kicking off the Cutting Edge Conference, New Zealand’s key addiction treatment gathering of all of the Addiction sector. The theme for this years conference was celebrating transformations.

Drua is New Zealand’s national Pasifika addiction network – check out our new office holders here.

The fono also allows opportunity for Pasifika sector to present new innovations, resources and tools that help our clinicians and practitioners with the fight against alcohol and substance related harm in our communities. 

A highlight was Dr Vili Nosa’s presentation called “Vai Mamali” Smiling Water – A cultural context of alcohol use amongst the Niue population.  The presentation outlined cultural context amongst the Niue population in New Zealand and Niue, also some distinctive cultural practises evident in Niuean communities around drinking behaviours.  

Alcohol has become an integral component of Niuean cultural rituals to the extent that celebrations and festivals are thought to be incomplete if alcohol is not present. Alcohol is used as a tool for expressing cultural values such as being Niuean, being a real Niuean man, fakaalofa (gifting), generosity, respect, status and host obligations. Dr Vili Nosa presented this as a keynote speaker the next day at Cutting Edge conference. 

Also presenting his work to the DRUA audience was Luamanuvae Toma Petelo from Salvation Army who described his work with Pasifika Men in prison, utilising the Fonofale Model as his framework of treatment and transformation. Phil Siataga and Harken Alaifea from Community Action Youth Alcohol Drugs (CAYAD) presented their High on Life programmes that has seen transformational changes to the youth in Christchurch through the arts, creative dance, spoken word and sports.  

Cutting Edge

Cutting Edge was amazing this year with major keynote speakers from overseas, perhaps one of the more popular was Professor David Best, who spoke on recovery as an issue of social justice and inclusion, also recovery and social identity. This aligned closely with Dr Vili Nosa’s presentation that highlighted the fact that alcohol has became a tool to expressing cultural values such as being a Niuean Man, respect, generosity etc. 

Another speaker was Kim Ledger, father to the late oscar-winning actor, Heath Ledger, and ScriptWise patron. One of Kims and ScriptWise’s driving factors is to raise community awareness around the safe and appropriate use of these medications. They also provide educational programs, that include schools, which are imperative for change to occur.
 
This year’s event saw a few more Pasifika attend the conference and also presenting both as keynote speakers and in breakout streams.  “Vaiola O Tangata” Pasifika Group: Transforming People from Lost Identity to Belonging presented by Hulita Hoponoa, Odyssey. Also “Transformations on a Threatened Pacific Atoll: Professional and personal accounts of how a small Island Nation is responding to increased alcohol consumption.” by Christina Tekena, Tungaru Central Hospital Kiribati & Andrew Raven MOH Kiribati.

Tupu Services stole the show with their performance of “The Laulau”, a drama co-written by Tupu Staff Asena Lameko and Faavae Simamao.  The drama is a moving tale of a family struggling to come to terms with the sudden tragic loss of their mother, wife and friend. The piece seeks to promote the key message that spirituality (Faith, Love and Hope in God) and family inclusiveness as “cutting edge” values to our work in the addictions and mental health sector. The drama was introduced by Matua Levao who was supported by Pulotu Bruce Levi, Epenesa Olo Whanga, Papalii Johnny Siaosi & Saveatama Eroni Clarke.

Transformation was this year’s theme for the conference, highlighting transformative practice for individuals and families, organisations and communities. 

Below are a few snaps from the two events. 

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.