Fijians formulate a plan for Wellbeing

Encouraging Fijians living in Aotearoa to stop being so shy and humble when it comes to accessing Government services was one of the main points to come out of a meeting in Wellington in June 2022. 

Fijian communities from around the country gathered in the capital to talanoa (discuss) and consider what Wellbeing means to each community.  

From Northland to Oamaru Fijians developed community plans that fed into a National Fijian Wellbeing Plan to be launched in July 2022. 

Saimoni Lealea pictured receiving Honorary MNZM, for services to Pacific communities “We began our wellbeing journey last year in June 2021 after discussions with, and guidance from, Pasefika Proud,” said Fijian Wellbeing Project leader, Saimoni (Sai) Lealea MNZM

Sai encouraged them to talanoa on wellbeing and tease out what the priorities were for Fijian communities, and more importantly whether they even wanted to work with the government in the first place. 

“The result was all 14 community groups agreed they really want to work with the government to address priority areas of our wellbeing,” Sai said.  

“Some communities are well established while others are just beginning. But coming together we were able to support each other. One of the challenges for our various communities we are finding is that Fijians are too humble, shy, or ashamed to come forward and access government services.”  

Sai said COVID-19 and multiple lockdowns highlighted this issue while also providing constant interruptions to in-person talanoa, however the Fijian communities persevered.  

Litiana Tukuca, the Fijian Community Representative Northland (left) Lidia Hanfiro Fijian Community Representative New PlymouthThe first community Sai visited in person for its talanoa session was Northland, and its representative, Litiana Tukuca, backed up his words. 

“Our first meeting was in June last year, 2021, we had a few zoom meetings with Sai where he told us about organising a community talanoa and that he would be coming to our communities to help with bringing us together on the purpose of this work.”  

For Northland, Litiana said there needed to be an exploration and expanding of the term wellbeing throughout the community.  

“Wellbeing is a general word. There are other lots of branches that come out from the word itself, but as a Fijian the word wellbeing, we just thought it’s just a word we associate with health. But what was discussed with our community was the many components of wellbeing, like mental wellbeing, social, spiritual, the emotional, because I didn’t want to confuse the community, I gave them those four components."

“Then we discussed which ones they think as a community we should focus on. I know they’re all important but because we’re working in partnership with Ministry of Social Development (MSD) this is one of their primary roles, we all agreed to work on social wellbeing.  

“And from that social wellbeing it was broken down into four areas, employment, housing, income support and family violence.” 

Litiana, a mother of two whose family moved to Paihia, in the Bay of Islands, from Fiji more than 10 years ago, said there was initial hesitation from the Northland Fijian community.  

“Some were questioning why it’s important that we even have a National Wellbeing Plan for Fijians that live in New Zealand, and I had to explain that it’s important for services to see us as our own people and know how to respond to our needs”. 

“Maybe after writing up this National Fijian Wellbeing Plan, it’s something that will help government agencies serve a Fijian family coming in for help - they will see us and help us from the point of being a Fijian. Not like when you go in and they use a one-size-fits-all solution lumping us in with other Pacific groups, it doesn’t work for our people”.  

“Fijians are different, our needs are different from Samoans, from Tongans. And we might think it’s not going to help us now but what we need to think about is our children and our children’s children”.  

“They may need help in the future and this plan will accommodate their wellbeing needs as a Fijian living in New Zealand.”  

The Fijian community acknowledge the integral support and guidance of Pasefika Proud throughout the entire wellbeing journey.  

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The strategic priorities for Pasefika Proud around achieving wellbeing for our Pacific communities are articulated in the Pasefika Proud Pathways for Change Framework  launched in 2019.  
The Fijian National Wellbeing Plan is one of National Wellbeing Plans for ethnic specific nations being developed around the country as part of the Pasefika Proud work programme. Each project group developing their wellbeing plan is encouraged to utilise and expand on their Nga Vaka o Kainga Tapu conceptual framework which is a wellbeing framework for different Pacific groups in Aotearoa, New Zealand. 

Read more about ‘Achieving wellbeing for our Pacific nations’ HERE

Read more about Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu HERE