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Pasifika Workforce Prioritising Suicide Prevention


The purpose of the GPS Satellite Seminars is to support and equip our Pasifika mental health and addiction workforce with integrated solutions that support services and people to achieve the best possible outcomes for Pasifika people and their families.

Our Auckland Pasifika mental health and addiction leaders co-designed GPS, prioritising cross-sector issues important for the region where integrated solutions are necessary. They identified suicide prevention is a high priority.

This makes sense because a top priority of New Zealand’s national mental health and addiction workforce action plan is to have a workforce that is integrated and connected across the continuum of care.

The World Health Organisation posits that for effective prevention of suicide, coordination and collaboration among multiple sectors of society is required.  With this in mind, we put together an excellent line-up of speakers from across the continuum, including: community-based approaches, primary care, policy, research, district health boards, and post vention services.

Accordingly, attendance to the fono, held at the Fale o Samoa in Mangere, consisted of cross-sector representation from the Ministry of Health, NGOs, DHBs, primary care, child protection services, youth services, corrections, justice, social services, and the education sector.  


The day started off from a high-level perspective, with Dr John Crawshaw and Matafanua Hilda Fa’asalele, providing views from a policy and Ministry of Health level. They highlighted the complex multifaceted nature of suicide, that cannot be resolved by just one solution, as suicide prevention requires a collective approach, with shared responsibility and sophisticated solutions. Furthermore, it requires a cross-government and cross-sector integrated approach. 


“We want to make sure that everyone in New Zealand leads a life less exposed to risks.  All of us can make a difference.”  – Dr John Crawshaw, Chief Advisor and Director Mental Health, Ministry of Health




“Often we can’t as individuals influence change. But we can form relationships that ensure together we bring change..E taua le fuafuaga, ae sili le mafutaga, meaning It is good to meet & plan but more important to focus on Relationships. Never underestimate the power of a conversation and the formation of a relationship – and the system this happens in”.  – Matafanua Hilda Fa’asalele, Chief Advisor Pacific, Ministry of Health


From a policy to practice viewpoint, we then progressed to the importance of research in suicide prevention, lead by Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath, followed by a District Health Board perspective from Manu Fotu (Waitemata/Auckland DHB) and Linda Bowden (Counties Manukau DHB). This was significant having the Suicide Prevention coordinators from three of the largest populated DHBs in New Zealand present collectively and again highlighting the importance of working together with an inter-agency approach – and the significance of relationships, as key enabler for positive outcomes.

“There continues to be inequalities and inequities between Pacific and the New Zealand population for suicide attempts. We need to quit the talking and just DO.” Dr Jemaima Tiatia-Seath




The day eventually funneled down to frontline solutions, with Roger Shave from CASA informing us of the Community Postvention Response Service but also inspiring us to have the courage to bring people together to prevent suicide. Joseph Liava’a presented a heartfelt primary care perspective as well as one of lived experience – ‘Ofa Atu Jo. 

Le Va “Flo: Pasifika for Life” displayed their suicide prevention programme. Leilani Clarke presented the wide reach and results from Le Va’s FLO Talanoa suicide prevention education programme, and Yvonne Kainuku-Walsh focused on the successes of funding and supporting 17 Pasifika community based suicide prevention projects over the last 2 years. We also took the opportunity to acknowledge and thank our Flo Ambassadors with a speech from Ambassador Metitilani Alo, supported by Mere Ratuva. 

“As workers and clinicians in the workforce, we know you can capably and competently care for others… but can you have the conversation about suicide with your own family? Can you ask your teen the question if you needed? It starts with you first.” –  Leilani Clarke, FLO team, Le Va.


“Supporting community based suicide prevention for Pasifika communities is not just about funding. We also filled the need to provide clinical support, cultural support, evidence-informed information, training and educating community leadership, and providing guidance to evaluating the impact of their activities.”  Yvonne Kainuku-Walsh, FLO team, Le Va.

Finally, Denise Kingi-Uluave gave us a sneak peak of New Zealand’s first home grown national suicide prevention training programme for all people living in New Zealand, LifeKeepers – an initiative that will create communities that care across the motu. 


The GPS Auckland satellite seminar was interactive, in usual Pasifika style, Saveatama Eroni led us in mango picking exercises, and hip moving gyrations to keep us mentally and physically limber, while over a Pasifika style lunch, we were serenaded by Candy Tusini-Rex and her ‘Static’ singing group.

A big day but well spent in the company of many wonderful Pasifika and non Pasifika people. Anecdotal feedback thus far has been:

  • “Well done Le Va, stylish as usual”
  • “Love your work, looking forward to LifeKeepers”
  • “Love this smaller less flashy GPS, more personal”

From the team at Le Va, thank you to all who attended.

If you want to know more about our satellite seminars coming to your region:

  • Christchurch 17 August – Register Now!
  • Wellington 6 September

Email us on GPS@leva.co.nz.


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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.