Carer is recog­nised

Central Leader - - Front Page - By Rhi­an­non Hor­rell

A MOD­EST Ton­gan pro­fes­sor who cred­its those around him for great achieve­ments in health­care has re­ceived a New Year’s hon­our.

Green­lane man Si­taleki ‘Ata’ata Finau has been made a Mem­ber of the New Zealand Or­der of Merit for ser­vices to Pa­cific Is­lands com­mu­nity health.

“It was a pleas­ant sur­prise – a good Christ­mas present,” he says.

Mr Finau was the driv­ing force be­hind the es­tab­lish­ment of the Ton­gan Health So­ci­ety, based in One­hunga, which takes into ac­count cul­tural and lan­guage dif­fer­ences.

“We run it Ton­gan style – it has a big wait­ing room and peo­ple are chat­ting and hav­ing cups of tea.”

He has re­cently worked as the di­rec­tor of health for the gov­ern­ment in Niue. “I ran the health ser­vices, prac­tised medicine, con­sul­ta­tion and run­ning clin­ics.”

Among other achieve­ments, Mr Finau de­vel­oped an eth­nic spe­cific model of health­care and es­tab­lished the Langi­malie Clinic in Auck­land, the only one of its kind in the coun­try.

“Health is a very per­sonal thing – it is cul­ture bound.”

He has been in­volved with hepati­tis B screen­ing pro­grammes that have tar­geted Pa­cific peo­ple, Maori and Asians and says it can be more preva­lent in cer­tain cul­tures be­cause of trans­mis­sion with low im­mu­ni­sa­tion rates.

“There is trans­mis­sion in schools, it is part of the poor health and poverty cy­cle.”

Mr Finau helped re-es­tab­lish the New Zealand Ton­gan Nurses As­so­ci­a­tion and is a found­ing mem­ber of the New Zealand Pasi­fika Med­i­cal As­so­ci­a­tion.

The 59-year-old now works as the di­rec­tor of Pasi­fika at Al­bany’s Massey Uni­ver­sity and was in­stru­men­tal in the de­vel­op­ment of its Pa­cific strat­egy.

He runs a pro­gramme that as­sists Pa­cific stu­dents and staff to achieve their best and helps with com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment.

Of re­ceiv­ing the 2010 hon­our, he says: “I am the lucky one – this is on be­half of the peo­ple who work with me.”

Mr Finau makes trips home to Tonga on a reg­u­lar ba­sis, with the next one in March.

He runs com­mu­nity de­vel­op­ment pro­grammes in his vil­lage Masil­amea and works with lo­cals to cre­ate a united iden­tity.

“We leave the vil­lage but the vil­lage never leaves us. There’s about 300 peo­ple, mostly rel­a­tives. You be­come every­one’s child.”

Photo: JA­SON OX­EN­HAM

Great achieve­ments: Pro­fes­sor Si­taleki Finau, a New Year’s hon­our re­cip­i­ent, was the first one in his fam­ily to go to uni­ver­sity.

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