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Niuean and Tokelauan voices resulting in ethnic-specific resources for their own in Porirua

Founded in 1994 and led by Lorna Kanavatoa, Vakaola is a well-known Porirua community provider which has had a longstanding and dedicated journey in the space of mental wellbeing and suicide prevention. 

Vakaola has been driving a Suicide Prevention Community Fund initiative that raises awareness and understanding through courageous conversations about suicide within the Porirua community. 

These conversations led them to take a multi-media approach to increase awareness and understanding further, through radio interviews and the development of two different DVDs – the first reflecting a combination of viewpoints from members of the Niuean community, while the second (led by Sipaia Kupa) resulted in a dramatic video showing the potential risk and resiliency factors for a young person.

These resources are driven by feedback from local Niue and Tokelau focus groups.

One Tokelau group commented that,

a suicide does not start and end with the action of harm to self, but starts with a thought that doesn’t always go away.”

The images and music used in this drama video reflect that of traditional and contemporary Tokelau culture.

The resources were designed and developed in collaboration with the two separate ethnic-specific groups and within as many levels of each community as was possible (i.e. parents, young people, clinicians, church and community leaders); all were passionate about making a significant difference for their people, meeting on several occasions to provide guidance.

There has been a great level of support and significant contributors that have given their time and energy voluntarily to this project, including specialist mental health input from Kupa Kupa, and the well-known videographer and graphic artist Moses Viliamu. 

In particular, we would greatly like to acknowledge Tauveve O’Love Jacobsen, the Niuean High Commissioner to New Zealand, who contributed to the digital resource and extended the message further by taking it into her church congregation.

In the words of project lead Lorna Kanavatoa,

the Commissioners support has seen this initiative take on additional strength and mana.” 

Well done Vakaola team!

Scenes from the Vakaola DVDs


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