Two new programmes to support the health of Pasifika people have been launched in North Otago.
Fakalekesi Mareqeta, a programme for Pasifika mothers and babies, and the Pacific Healthy Homes Project are now being offered in Oamaru by the Fale Pasifika O Aoraki Trust, a social service agency for Pacific people in Oamaru, Ashburton and Timaru.
The Fale Pasifika O Aoraki Trust was established about 10 years ago. It is a registered charitable organisation, providing services for Pasifika people including reducing family harm, promoting family wellbeing, budgeting, empowering women, emergency housing and mental health initiatives.
The Pacific Healthy Homes Project was developed to reduce the number of Pasifika children presenting at hospital with illnesses caused by cold and damp homes, co-ordinator Wendy Joy said.
“There are plenty of people living in cold, damp homes and that creates illnesses in children,” she said.
A lot of people had no idea how much difference insulation could make or how important it was to clean heat pump filters, she said.
Ms Joy, with another Pasifika staff member, would do free assessments of homes and advocate on the behalf of Pasifika families to help make their houses warmer, drier and safer.
“We want to get their homes nice and warm and dry and reduce and prevent the illnesses,” she said.
As well as checking the health of the home, the wellness checks were also for the health of the families.
“Making sure everybody is registered with a GP and educating them around the New Zealand healthcare system.”
Many Pasifika people went to Oamaru Hospital when they were ill, instead of seeing a GP, based on the healthcare model in the Pacific Islands.
“The outcomes of both programmes are to reduce the number of Pasifika children presenting at the hospital,” she said.
“There’s a real need for some education around the New Zealand healthcare system.”
Fakalekesi Mareqeta is a pregnancy support programme for Pasifika mothers and their babies from the womb to 18 months old.
The free service is being run in Oamaru by Fiafiaga Katalake, a qualified midwife.
“It’s a mobile programme that can be conducted [one-on-one] at whanau homes or groups,” Mrs Katalake said.
It is based on the Talanoa model, which encompasses ofa (love), mafana (warmth), malie (humour) and faka’apa’apa (respect).
The Fale Pasifika O Aoraki Trust accepts referrals for both programmes from other organisations, or people can self-refer.
“It’s a really good opportunity for Pasifika people to connect with the wider Pasifika community,” Ms Joy said.