Fenoga Pule framework

Pulotu lata ma e puhala fakamalolo tino.
The knowledge holder becomes the master of the journey.

Fenoga Pule is a competency framework for the Pasifika Primary Mental Health and Addiction (PMHA) workforce. It provides a map for professionals working in the sector and outlines the attitudes, knowledge and skills needed to work in Pasifika PMHA and Access & Choice settings.

The objective of the Fenoga Pule framework is to grow the capability of the Pasifika PMHA workforce to deliver the best support possible to meet the needs of Pasifika people. As part of our journey, we need to self-reflect, to acknowledge our strengths, and to explore new territory and opportunities for learning and growth.   

Core Cultural Competency Values 

Values are fundamental to any framework.  For Pasifika, values are like guiding stars in the sky. In every piece of work, in every conversation with people, colleagues and family, we align ourselves to values.  Like star constellations in the sky, the more familiar we are with each value, the more purposeful and aligned our work will be.  

The following values have been identified as Six Core Cultural Competency Values in the journey of healing for Pasifika mental health.

1. POWER & FAITH - What I do has power, I have faith in my journey

Your actions have impact beyond the physical – into the spiritual. Health professionals carry knowledge, resources, and influence. We sit in positions of perceived power. How we choose to use this power makes a real difference in a person’s life. When we choose to create a space that is respectful and safe, when we choose to listen and validate, when we choose to hear, we are using our power to heal.

Service is the ultimate use of power in Pasifika cultures and has direct link to our wellbeing. Our power as Pasifika is derived from our faith– whatever that may be. Faith is the belief in that which is beyond us and covers us as we journey. Take a moment to reflect on these: 

  • When was the last time that you had to seek help in healthcare? What did you learn? 
  • How aware are you of the perceived power dynamics when you are in the role of professional? 
  • When was the last time your faith actively entered into your role? 
  • Consider things you can say and do to share power or ways that intentionally transfer the power to make the relationship more balanced, while maintaining responsibility.
2. DIGNITY & RESPECT - I can enhance someone’s dignity through respect or I can diminish it

When we join with people on their wellbeing and healing journey, often they are at their most vulnerable. Healing and wellbeing is about building someone’s dignity and mana. Enhancing mana is about empowering others. This often requires us to pass over control, and to engage in reciprocal patterns of uplifting and respecting each other – regardless of status or title.

The Samoan Head of State writes the following: “It is worth remembering that when seeking mental health and addiction services, people and families are often in agony, emotional turmoil and have reached the end of their tether and resources to solve this problem independently of help. Thus, the tensions and anxiety associated with ‘face’, stigma and vulnerability mean that this is an area worth being very sensitive to.”

Take a moment to reflect on these: 

  • When was the last time you were in a position of having your dignity diminished or mana undermined? How did it happen? How did you feel? 
  • Do you have any recollection of purposely or mistakenly diminishing someone’s dignity? How did it happen? How aware were you? What were the consequences? 
  • Consider things that you can do to be more conscious of empowering others.
3. HUMILITY & LOVE - This is about them, not about me

In this journey, we must maintain Humility and Love (Aro’a, Arofa, Aroha, alofa). Humility occurs when we focus on others, not on ourselves.  Love is based in compassion and empathy – the ability to understand and empathise with others. To humble oneself, and offer love regardless of power and position, is the ultimate in operationalising respect. Understanding the way humility operates differently in Pasifika cultures can assist with achieving a therapeutic outcome.

Operating from a position of professional humility may ease anxiety and assist with the development of a therapeutic relationship. At times, even when someone strongly disagrees with a person in power (i.e., a health professional), they may opt for silence rather than open disagreement out of humility and respect for the relationship. Pasifika cultures have historically prioritised the importance of relationships and collective harmony over the need for self-expression or truth-speaking which may damage the quality of relationships. In some cases, speaking-truth is considered inappropriate and offensive. In other cases, it is required for forgiveness, healing, and restorative justice.

Take a moment to reflect on these: 

  • How does this discussion about humility and love land with you? 
  • Can you recognise that what makes sense in one cultural context, may disadvantage you in another? 
  • Does it feel difficult to balance the role of expert and being humble in the way you relate to people who are there for your expertise? 
  • Does it feel difficult to acknowledge that Love is a part of your practice?
  • Consider some behaviours that make you recognise humility.
4. COLLECTIVISM & FAMILY - I am not an individual

To successfully voyage we cannot do it alone, we need a solid crew. The more dangerous the voyage, the more solid our crew needs to be. For most Pasifika peoples, kāinga, āiga, magafaoa, kōpū tangata, fāmili, vuvale, family is a fundamental value and central to the way of life. The oft quoted Tamasese Efi passage, “I am not an individual” reflects the importance of relationships, relational identities, and dynamics.

The role of family should be considered when interacting with Pasifika peoples, including ways of including family in treatment and recovery. Pasifika constructions of causes of wellness and solutions for restoring health are very often family-oriented and people-centred. Another way of incorporating the importance of family is to acknowledge the distinct roles that people have and the expectations, responsibilities and ideals associated with these roles, and how fundamental these roles are to identity. It is recognised that making assumptions about the appropriateness of family involvement can be risky.

Take a moment to reflect on these: 

  • What are genuine ways you have included family in your practice? 
  • How can you incorporate family in meaningful ways? 
  • Distinct cultures arrange and structure families differently. What kind of awareness of Pasifika family structures and cultural associations and expectations with different roles do you have? 
  • Where can you learn or seek advice from? 
  • Consider family-centred practices that you occasionally use and try identifying ones that you would like to regularly use.
5. COMMUNICATION & LANGUAGE - There is power in our words

Language and communication are like the lashings that bind our healing canoe together. All cultures have developed preferred and different ways of communicating. In both Eastern and Pasifika cultures, there is a preference for indirect communication to preserve the quality of relationships, collective harmony, and to ‘save face’. Indirect language, gentleness, respectful, warm, connecting, non-judgmental and soft-spoken communication is considered polite and positive.

The use of metaphors, symbol, proverbs, narrative, story, symbol, and roundabout oratory to soften the quality of hard subject matters are techniques that have been used for centuries in Pasifika cultures. ‘Talanoa’, which is non-directive talk, may appear very unguided with flexibility to flow in other seemingly unrelated directions, but is actually very conscious of timing, opening up, and gently establishing enough connection. To have the awareness, flexibility, and ability to communicate effectively across cultures and adapt when necessary is a core skill.

Take a moment to reflect on these:  

  • Have you been in situations where culturally distinctive communication preferences / style has been obvious to you?
  • Do you change how you speak in different contexts? 
  • Do you use metaphors or tell stories in your practice? Do you Talanoa? What are you comfortable with using? 
  • Take some time to watch people you admire and respect. Observe how they communicate differently with people.
6. LEARNING & GROWTH - The more I know, the more I see what I don’t know

As we journey, we never stop learning – whether it be explicit knowledge or being able to sense different emotional swells and dynamics. For Pasifika, learning is experiential. We grow through routine, service, practice, observation, reflection, and correction. Being open to learning, receiving advice and understanding where the limits of our knowledge lie, and recognising where we are and are not the expert is vital to good outcomes.

We cannot expect to have authority in areas that we know little about. Having the good sense to understand the boundaries of our expertise and where we need to position ourselves as learners requiring guidance is important. Learning never stops, and this final value forms the basis of this document.

Take a moment to reflect on these: 

  • When is the last time you genuinely asked for help and advice and were able to position yourself as a learner? 
  • Who is your go-to for Pasifika cultural advice, or do you prefer to go to written sources for guidance and knowledge gaps? How and where can you get this expertise and information, if it is beyond the limits of your own knowledge?
  • Consider a need-to-learn list after thinking about Pasifika culture, knowledge, values, beliefs, and practices.

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.