Pacific health and well-being models encompass the culture, values and beliefs of these peoples. Pacific Health is the balance of different factors/dimensions that include spiritual, cultural, and environmental factors in health (Sopoaga, 2011).

The Pacific Concept of Health and Wellness

The concept of ‘health’ means the well-being of the whole person: that is, their spiritual, mental and physical well-being, which is an interpretation consistent with holistic views of the Pacific world. Well-being and health refer not only to individuals, but also to communities, the environment in which they live and the relationship that unites them. This set of interdependent relationships is what I mean by “fonua” in Tongan, “vanua” in Fijian and “whenua” in Maori. In other words, ‘fonua’ is a concept of Pacific community. (Dr.’AnaTaufe’ulungaki, 2004 in Agnew et al Tu’itahi, 2004)

Pacific health models encompass the health culture, values and beliefs of Pacific peoples. Pacific Health is the balance of different factors/dimensions that include spiritual, cultural, and environmental factors in health (Ministry of Health, NZ, 2004).

Fonua – Pacific Welfare Model

Model fonuaFonua means land and its people and their continuous relationship, this is a concept that is present in several other Pacific cultures. In Fiji it is vanua, in Samoa it is fanua, in Māori whenua and in the Cook Islands ‘enua.

In the Fonua model there are five dimensions and five levels. The five dimensions are Laumalie – Spiritual, ‘Atamai – Mental, Sino – Physical, Kainga – Collective/Community and ‘Atakai – Environment. These five dimensions are intertwined like a mattress. All must be cared for equally to maintain holistic well-being.

The five levels are: Taautaha – Individual, Famili – Family, Kolo – Local/Village, Fonua – Nation and Mamani – Global Society. These five levels are interdependent and complement each other. Health must be addressed at all levels to maintain the health and well-being of society. The cyclic representation of the model illustrates the interdependence and connection of the network of life (relationship between dimensions and levels of well-being) to the ultimate purpose of well-being.

Te Whare Tapa Whā – Maori model of well-being

Te Whare Tapa Wha This health model was developed by Professor Sir Mason Durie, who enjoys great prestige in academia and in Te Ao Māori, especially for his work in the public health sector. This health model incorporates four pillars of Māori health: taha wairua (spiritual health), taha tinana (physical health), taha whānau (family health) and taha hinengaro (mental health) (Ministry of Health, NZ, 2004). Taking Te Whare Tapa Whā into account when undertaking research with Maori should allow projects to develop more smoothly, as all aspects of health can be taken into account when making decisions.

This health model focuses on indigenous Maori people in Aotearoa/New Zealand, but is relevant to all people. Speech therapists, even those unfamiliar with this model, recognize that all four dimensions are necessary to support health and well-being.

Taha wairua includes the importance of culture and heritage for personal identity, an area that speech therapy recognizes as key to clinical competence. Taha hinengaro includes the need to express thoughts and feelings, another area especially highlighted for speech therapy. The other two dimensions taha tinana (physical health) and taha whānau (family health) are possibly more familiar in the daily work of speech therapists.

Taha hinengaro – Mental and emotional well-being

Taha hinengaro is your mind, your heart, your consciousness, your thoughts and your feelings. It’s about how you feel, as well as how you communicate and think.

According to the Health Workforce Advisory Committee of New Zealand (2002), caring for taha hinengaro is important for everyone, regardless of whether or not you have experienced mental illness or distress.

When the taha hinengaro is strong, you can better face life’s challenges. You can express your feelings and seek the support of your friends, whānau and hoamahi (colleagues) if you need it.

Some surprising lifestyle decisions can hinder the health of the taha hinengaro.

For example, what you eat affects your taha hinengaro. Eating some foods can improve your mood and mental well-being, while others can have a negative impact on how you feel.

That means you can improve your taha hinengaro by making small changes to your diet. (And, luckily, the same eating habits that keep you mentally well are what favor your taha tinana as well.)

How much you move also affects your taha hinengaro. Physical activity not only seems to reduce the symptoms and frequency of depression, but, better, it also reduces the risk of depression. Read more about how physical activity affects mental health.

Drinking alcohol can lift your mood with the first drink, but too often excess alcohol can be a depressing factor for taha hinengaro. Find out how alcohol affects your brain and mood.

Learning to manage stress also helps taha hinengaro. Stress is your body’s natural reaction to a threat or excessive demand. A little stress is good for you and helps motivate you to do something. But when you are under too much stress for too long, this affects your taha hinengaro. Learning to manage stress is a key life skill.

Taha wairua – Spiritual well-being

Your spiritual essence is your life force, your mauri. This is who and what you are, where you come from and where you’re going.

The way people see wairua can be very different. For some, wairua is the ability to have faith or religious beliefs or to believe in a higher power. For others, wairua is an inner connection to the universe or the sacred. There is no right or wrong way to think or experience wairua, but it is an important part of your mental well-being.

Spiritual well-being can be expressed through beliefs, values, traditions, and practices that support self-awareness and identity. Also, Taha wairua provides meaning and purpose, as well as experiencing a sense of connection with oneself, with whānau, with community, with nature and with the sacred.

Taha whānau – Family welfare

Taha whānau refers to who makes you feel like you belong, who you care about, and with whom you share your life.

Whānau is about extended relationships: it’s not just about your immediate relatives, but about your friends, hoamahi (colleagues), the community, and the people you care about. Everyone has a place and a role to play within their whānau, and whānau contributes to your individual well-being and identity (Ministry of Health, NZ, 2008).

Spending time with the whānau, doing things for them and participating gives you a sense of purpose, connection and well-being. It benefits you and strengthens your whānau. As the main source of strength, support, security and identity, the whānau play a fundamental role in your well-being.

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Bibliographic References

Agnew F, Pulotu-Endemann FK, Suaalii-Sauni T, Warren H, Wheeler A, Erick M, Hingano T Schmidt-Sopoaga H. Pacific models of mental health service delivery in New Zealand Health Research Council of New Zealand, 2004

Building Pacific health workforce capacity Health Workforce Advisory Committee, NZ, 2002

Pacific health and disability workforce development Plan Ministry of Health, NZ, 2004

Pacific cultural competencies: A literature review Ministry of Health, NZ, 2008

You may also be interested in: PATH – Planning Alternative Tomorrows with Hope

Pacific Health Models Applied to Personal Well-Being

Pacific Health Models Applied to Personal Well-Being

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