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Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand Runanga Whakapiki Ake i te Hauora o Aotearoa

Without a doubt, a stand out figure from the health promotion, public health and global health sectors is Colin Tukuitonga.  Speaking from Noumea, Colin shared some thoughts with us on his current work, public health issues for Pacific Nations and changes in health promotion over the years.

Thank you for your time this afternoon Colin, firstly, what proportion of The Pacific Community (SPC) work would you identify as health promotion?

Given the broad scope of my organisation’s mandate in food security, fisheries management & education, agriculture, public health, human rights and geoscience, this is difficult to answer however all of these things at one level or another are health promoting in their outcomes. We have a separate public health programme that has a large health promotion component and we work in 26 countries.

What are the biggest public health issues in the Pacific nations?

Most definitely non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Obesity affects three out of every four adults. We also have the increasing issue of obesity in childhood. All islands were part of developing the Pacific NCD roadmap with specific recommended actions. One of these was to introduce a tax on sugary drinks. Another was an increase in tax on tobacco.  The Pacific NCD roadmap is essentially a blueprint for the islands to follow. Some are active on this. Others less so. However, we expect all islands to implement a sugary drink tax.

Communicable diseases can affect some islands for example tuberculosis in Papua New Guinea.

How do you see the role of health promotion in addressing these issues?

Without a doubt this is where we need to be overall but resourcing places constraints on this. Many islands are doing their best to help but again, more often than not, hospital and treatment services take up the lion’s share of funding. We do what we can at SPC to encourage island nations to invest in core public health functions but it is challenging.

You have signalled SPC’s strong support for the 2019 World IUHPE conference to be held in NZ. What do you see as SPC’s role at the conference?

We have three roles. Firstly, general support for the hui. It is just fantastic that we get to have this event in this part of the world. Secondly, we are planning to provide some financial support. Thirdly, and most importantly, our role is to facilitate an opportunity at this global event for small islands to  share concerns and then work together, to take strength and to think about a way forward as an organisation of small islands. That is what we would hope to achieve.

Climate change is a major issue facing the peoples of the Pacific. What actions do you think are necessary to address this global environmental issue?

We made significant gains with the Paris Agreement, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change.  Now with US withdrawing from that, it may take us back to before the agreement so trying to maintain momentum is really difficult. We need political support from many to honour the Paris Agreement. Without this we will be going backwards. Pacific nations have put a lot of energy into the agreement particularly the recommendations to limit emissions and enable funds for good work. Right now we are at risk of inertia with the US not agreeing to continue.

How do you see public health and health promotion developing over the years?

Well when I started people talked about more traditional quarantine measures, or the role of legislation to regulate behaviours or control diseases. We’ve come a long way since then. The watershed moment for me was the emergence of the Ottawa Charter. This changed things from a conventional public health approach to one of empowerment of communities and of developing healthy public policy.

For me it is about continuing this Ottawa Charter type approach and supporting nations to invest more in health promotion practices. To undertake things like health impact assessment and environmental impact assessment when large development projects are on the table. We have a range of tools to choose from but in general these are not always applied consistently.

Having worked in both New Zealand and the Pacific, how would you characterise the relationship between the two?

In some areas it is going well however I would say there seems to be a general lack of awareness in New Zealand about what is happening in the Pacific regions. I do note though that there is more and more interaction taking place.

We could learn a lot from the health promotion models and ideas in New Zealand. Smoking continues to be a significant problem in the islands.  We are impressed with New Zealand’s smoke free work.

Are there any other pointers from your recent work we could learn from?

Recently I was part of the World Health Organisation Global Commission on Ending Childhood Obesity as a commissioner. From that we produced a final report with a set of recommendations and cost-effective measures for ending childhood obesity. New Zealand and Pacific nations have been slow to pick these up. One would hope governments provide leadership and look seriously at the recommendations of this report.



Previously medically-focused, the University of Otago’s Department of Public Health has broadened its programme to embrace a range of disciplines including nursing, health promotion, nutrition, social work, physiotherapy and others interested in public health.

The new Public Health programmes now offer greater flexibility for students, and the opportunity for general as well as new discipline-specific qualifications, says convener of the University of Otago, Wellington (UOW) Department of Public Health programme, Associate Professor Diana Sarfati.  “Public health is a diverse and vital area, encompassing all aspects of our lives.  Students can develop skills in health promotion, epidemiology, health economics, environment and health, public health research, hauora Māori, how society affects health, and much more.” Public health training opens up a number of career opportunities, she says.   “Regardless of which aspect of public health interests you, it is a field in which you will really make a difference.”

The programmes continue to be offered from all three campuses in Dunedin, Christchurch and Wellington and enquiries are welcome from those with an undergraduate degree in any discipline.

The latest new 15 point papers are taught in half semester terms enabling students to structure their study around family and work commitments.

There are 21 papers on offer, including several distance options, providing students the opportunity to put together a broad programme of study, or tailor their qualification to their interests.

Enrolments for 2015 are now open, visit for further information. Courses begin at the end of February 2015.



Jo Lawrence-King

1 December 2014



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Massive Dynamic has over 10 years of experience in Design, Technology and Marketing. It is a long established fact that a reader will be distracted by the readable content of a page when looking at its layout. The point of using Lorem Ipsum is that it has a more-or-less normal distribution of letters, as opposed to using ‘Content here, content here’, making it look like readable English. Many desktop publishing packages and web page editors now use Lorem Ipsum as their default model text, and a search for ‘lorem ipsum’ will uncover many web sites still in their infancy.



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In the latest of HPF’s Keeping Up to Date series of peer-reviewed papers, Dr Kate Morgaine discusses how the fluoridation of community drinking water meets all the values and aims of health promotion.

“Oral health inequalities across the world are large and long standing, but not immutable,” says Dr Morgaine in her paper.  “Within New Zealand, dental caries is a significant disease that impacts both physical health and quality of life. A clear social gradient is also evident, with the heaviest burden being borne by those who experience the most deprivation in our society.


“Fluoride is important in oral health and in the prevention of caries as it has three functions. It enhances remineralisation following consumption of food; once incorporated into the enamel is inhibits demineralisation; and it inhibits the ability of bacteria to adhere to, and thus attack, tooth enamel.

Fluoride is a naturally occuring mineral, but it’s concentration in local water supplies is wide ranging.  In some countries, fluoride levels are adjusted downwards to prevent the harmful effects of high doses.  In New Zealand, however, they are adjusted upwards to provide optimal health benefits.

26 March 2015

Jo Lawrence-King



-An employment service by Framework

Workfocus aims to provide employment support for mental health clients for a range of ethnicities. The Workfocus team, based in Epsom, is comprised of ten employment consultants, including Asian consultants. Clients access the service through any form of referral, however, those approaching the service themselves must acknowledge their mental illness. Clients and consultants work in partnership in seeking employment and the client must be motivated to find work. Consultants support clients in all steps of the job application; including providing tips on filling in application forms and practising interview skills; however, clients must apply for jobs themselves. Workshops and training are also available (please contact Workfocus or Framework for more details).

The employment consultants, covering different areas of Auckland, provide ongoing support to clients in their employment journey, until they achieve a year of employment. However the main focus of the service is on finding a desired and attainable job.

According to Milly Zhang, an experienced employment consultant with the organisation, there are a number of challenges Asian clients might face when finding employment. Although they are usually hard workers and are motivated to find a job, their overseas qualifications and experiences are often invalid in New Zealand. Asian clients also face additional challenges as they adapt to a new social and employment environment.

Workfocus has been providing its service for over four years. For more information regarding Workfocus, please e-mail Milly Zhang or call her on 021 976 556.


Election 2014:  NZ political parties state their position


All but one of all New Zealand’s political parties have responded to last month’s invitation, by the Institutional Racism Special Interest Group (IRSIG), to state their position on addressing institutional racism in Aotearoa New Zealand.


Responses were as wide-ranging as the political parties.  A brief paragraph from the Act party suggested the issue centres on preferential treatment of Māori, while the Green Party issued an in-depth statement acknowledging that health and wellbeing is a basic human right and needs to be upheld for all New Zealanders, regardless of their ethnicity.


The New Zealand Labour Party was the only party to decline to respond


Institutional racism is defined as “an entrenched pattern of differential access to material resources and power determined by race, which advantages one sector of the population while disadvantaging another”[1].  Present-day examples of institutional racism can be seen in Waitangi Tribunal claims and lead to inequities in health, education, employment and criminal justice outcomes for Māori [and other ethnic minorities?].


The IRSIG is a tripartite group, with members from the Health Promotion Forum of New Zealand – Runanga Whakapiki Ake i te Hauora o Aotearoa, the Public Health Association and the Māori Public Health Leaders Alumni.


Read the report on the parties’ responses.


Beginning to address institutional racism within the public health sector: insights from a provider survey – Keeping up to Date paper – Autumn/Winter 2013

Dr Heather Came’s paper identifies ongoing institutional racism and privilege in the public health sector, that breach Te Tiriti o Waitangi and contravene the stated public health and health promotion ethical principles.  It identifies a range of actions health funders can take to address the problem.


This was the 38th edition of the HPF’s Keeping Up to Date series of peer-reviewed papers.  Dr Came is Programme Leader/Lecturer in Community Health Development and Aucklant University of Technology (AUT).


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