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FLO Talanoa Facilitator Profile: Moana Manuela-Ngaata


“…my drive comes from a younger sister who suffers from severe mental health.  She is so special to me and is worth every investment for the message of FLO Talanoa to reach every corner of the Pacific ocean.  The fact she’s still here, motivates me to keep on doing the work I do.”

FLO Talanoa is a community led suicide prevention education programme that is evidence informed, culturally safe and co-designed to be led by Pasifika communities.

FLO Talanoa facilitators receive free training from Le Va and reciprocate by delivering free workshops in their communities – in response our communities take ownership and leadership of suicide prevention community action plans. Facilitators delivering from within their own communities has seen the adaptation of the FLO Talanoa toolkit translated to various Pasifika languages and incorporated into programmes delivered in ways that suit their respective Pasifika communities.

The team at Le Va wanted to share with you some of the inspirational people that volunteer to be FLO Talanoa facilitators. This month we profile FLO Talanoa facilitator, Moana Manuela-Ngaata.

Name: Moana Manuela-Ngaata

Role: Social Worker

Community: Porirua – Wellington

Favourite quote: “No one leaves here the same way they walked in, including me”.  

A quote I say when I’m giving a talk or presentation, which means you’re responsible for your own learning and your time here.  You can either waste your petrol getting here or make every moment count so you’re not wasting your time…..or petrol.

Tell us a little bit about yourself:

Firstly, I want to give all honour and glory to God because he is still the head of all our lives. I am humbled and grateful to be writing this piece for Le Va. May God continue to pour out his unmatchable favor and unconditional love upon the work you all do. 

My name is Moana Roberta Manuela-Ngaata. Ngaata is my married name, Manuela is my maiden name – it is Spanish from during the conquests of the Portugese in the Pacific during the 1500’s.

Roberta comes from Robert who was the Doctor that delivered me in Rarotonga hospital, but is still practicing medicine in Tauranga.  Unlike traditional naming methods especially for the eldest and first child, I wasn’t named after anyone.  Moana was a mutual agreement between my parents because they both loved the name.  An interesting fact about me is that I have a younger brother name Maui and a first cousin named Tamatoa that I’m really close with.  Sometimes I think Walt Disney has been spying on my family to make a movie after actual members in my family lol. 

I was born and raised in the Cook Islands on the main island of Rarotonga. The eldest of twelve, I hail from the village of Nikao a.k.a ‘the centre of the universe’. My parents come from the islands of Mauke, Aitutaki, Atiu, Manihiki and Pukapuka. I arrived in Wellington on the 12 Feb 1999 from Rarotonga with my grandmother after gaining a scholarship to study Sports Science, I lived in the Hutt with family and went flatting shortly after.  I’ve been here since and now Wellington is my home away from home, Porirua in particular. I met my husband here, got married here, established a home, furthered my education and graduated with a degree in Social Work and now pursuing a Masters.  Three of my siblings also live here which helps eliminate homesickness.  They too have established themselves and having families of their own, they call Wellington their home.  I absolutely love Porirua and can’t see myself living anywhere else because it’s such a ‘buzzy’ vibrant, busy, connected city that portrays so many similar features of a village where people come from all walks of life, different ethnicities, different shapes and sizes, languages, colors, and statuses but with a common goal of “Safe, Strong and Empowering Communities”.

When I was growing up I either wanted to work with Greenpeace and save the whales or be a Firewoman.  I’ve always had a knack to help people whether it’s giving them information, so they can make informed decisions, or giving the shirt off my back to help a fellow citizen, which drives my family insane because my family thinks I can’t say ‘no’.  Well that’s true sometimes too.  I love to travel and create new memories, make new connections and gain new experiences.  A work colleague has once described me as ‘wearing my heart on my sleeve’.  

One of my goals in life is to be the first female Prime Minister of the Cook Islands.

What do you do on an average day?

Well there’s work Monday to Friday 8.30am – 5pm which is a normal day.  But an average day would be a fitness class, chai latte with friends, playing with the kids at home or chilling with someone I don’t live with.  In light of the theme for Mental Health Awareness Week, 2018 – Let nature in, strengthen your wellbeing – Mā te taiao kia whakapakari tōu oranga – it’s really important for my own mental health to maintain a good balance between work and home time.  When I’m home…. I’m home.  I’ve arrived to the point where it’s ok to put myself number 1 at times, listen to my body and treat myself to some TLC every so often.

What do you love about your community?

I love that Porirua is multi-cultural, vibrant, a tight-knit community and just a really cute place to live.  It has such a rich culture from being the home of the infamous haka “ka mate ka mate”, Whittakers chocolates and 20 minutes from the coolest little capital in the world, Wellington.

When did you first become interested in the suicide prevention space?

I saw an ad on Facebook in 2016 – I applied and haven’t looked back since.  It’s the best random thing I’ve done and don’t regret.

What led you to become a FLO Talanoa facilitator?

I genuinely believe in the kaupapa of FLO Talanoa – it is vital for the community to know these gems.  I’m so glad to be part of this journey – my drive comes from a younger sister who suffers from severe mental health.  She is so special to me and is worth every investment for the message of FLO Talanoa to reach every corner of the Pacific ocean.  The fact she’s still here, motivates me to keep on doing the work I do.  

How does your role as a facilitator impact or help people in your family, community?

Wow where do I start.  My family is so supportive and encouraging of the work I do as a facilitator.  I just have to say “FLO” and my family already know their role.  The groups I have facilitated in the community can’t get enough of the message but more so the delivery of the message, because my passion can come out at times lol.  I use my quote stated above a lot too. 

Plans going forward as a FLO facilitator?

I can’t wait to do this fulltime and deliver more FLO Talanoa in the Pacific starting in my home country the Cook Islands!


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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.