Tongan community leaders, health professionals and church leaders from around Auckland attended a Health Forum to discuss together how to better serve their communities.

The meeting was called by the Tongan Youth Trust on behalf of Filipo Motulalo from ACC, GP Viliami Puloka from Health Promoion and  GP Viliami Tutone from Middlemore Hospital.

GP Viliami Puloka is one of many Tongan health professionals reaching out to community leaders about health issues.

Over the years health professionals have held informal meetings about health issues among their people, says Dr Viliami Puloka.

“Church is very important among Tongans, especially here in New Zealand,” says Dr Puloka. “Church here plays a role similar to that of the village back home and that is why we thought it would be important to include church leaders in this forum.”

“We want to start discussions about health,” says Ikilifi Pope, CEO of the Tongan Youth Trust and Methodist church minister. He promises the recent meeting is only a beginning. More and much bigger meetings are planned. The Health Forum wants to reach as many people as possible, which is why the meeting was attended by a cross section of the Tongan community.

Topics on the table include Tongan community and health in NZ, culture and health, religion and health. Community leaders and church ministers were invited to speak their thoughts on these topics during the recent meeting, held in Onehunga.

Attendees included journalists from 531PI, Planet FM, Pacific TV, Auckland and Waitemata District Health Board staff ministers, health professionals such as GPs Viliami Tutone and Viliami Puloka, nutritionist Sione Tupou, Tongan Health Society, Bahai, Methodist and Anglican church ministers, such as Rev Ilomaisini Lea, president of the Tongan United Church in NZ, and Rev. Tevita Finau, the District Superintendent Tongan Synod of the Methodist Church.

Sione Tu’itahi

Setita Millar from TV Pacific

Rev SIni Lea, president United Church of Tonga NZ

Milika Pusiaki from Radio 531pi

Malika Kinahoi

Lita Foliaki

Kathleen Ta’ufo’ou from the Methodist Church

GP Viliami Tutone from Middlemore Hospital

GP Viliami Puloka

GP Aisake Takau

Filipo Motulalo from ACC

The Tongan Health Forum is off to a good start, says Mr Pope. He is hoping many more workshops will follow.

For more information you can contact the Tongan Youth Trust, Pearce Street Hall, 3 Pearce Street, ph. 09-634 9262