Global, Pacific

Reflections from the Pacific

Dr Viliami Puloka

Dr Viliami Puloka, HPF’s Pacific Strategist looks back at the amazing Pacific experience at IUHPE2019 in Rotorua.

Fakafeta’I, malo lava, vinaka vakalevu are the words that come to mind – hearts full of joy and gratitude to be part of this world-wide event right here at home in Aotearoa New Zealand.

All the Pacific participants especially those from the islands were so thrilled and appreciative of the fact that they did not have to paddle far to get here. It was only a three-hour flight from Tonga, Fiji, Samoa, Vanuatu, Kiribati, Solomon Islands and New Caledonia. It confirmed the fact that Aotearoa is squarely part of the Pacific islands. 

Arriving in Rotorua was heart-warming to many who thought New Zealand was the land of the palangi.  But all were excited to meet and share the experience of their Maori cousins. Many commented on the spiritual experience they had during the Powhiri, which reminded them of their own version at home.

Some were moved to tears when exchanges the “breath of life” with Maori delegates while walking between sessions or at various meeting venues.

We really felt at home and immediately identified with our Maori cousins and their environment. When Tamati Kurger spoke, we were already in awe, excited, joyful, appreciative and motivated for action. It was a big deal for us to come in to a very enabling, encouraging and empowering environment. That really prepared our hearts and minds to focus on the contents of the conference.

Pacific Community (SPC) commitment and partnership through sponsorship of participants to attend, give presentations led by the Director General Colin Tukuitoga as one of the Plenary speakers shows great leadership and very much appreciated.

 A highlight for Pacific Youth was the SPC Pacific Youth WAKE UP art project unfolds itself through out the days of the conference. It was a call on young people to wake up to the facts that “today is the tomorrow you dreamt about yesterday”. What you do today as far as Noncommunicable diseases are concerned will return to haunt you at your later years.