College of Health hosts Pacific delegates on Auckland campus

College of Health Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane Mills accepts ava during Wednesday's ceremony in Auckland.

Earlier this week, around 40 delegates from the Auckland and Waitemata District Health Board Pacific Directorate were hosted with an culturally significant ava ceremony on the Auckland campus by representatives from the College of Health.

The meeting was a historical moment for the College and the University, as Massey continues its desire and commitment toward engaging and working with key Pacific stakeholders, to advance Pacific educational and wellbeing interests.

The day began with prayers led by Reverend Elder (retired) Uiva Vagana, the founder of the North Shore Pacific Islanders Presbyterian Church and then an ava ceremony in the Atrium Round Room led by Ava leader Tofilau Dr Maastusi Vaoiva Tofilau and the Malofie group, to welcome guests.

This was followed by presentations by College of Health Pro Vice-Chancellor Professor Jane Mills and Pacific Health Directorate general manager for Waitemata and Auckland District Health Boards, le afioga o Pulotu Bruce Levi. The day culminated in a talanoaga workshop where attendees participated in identifying and strategising ways to forge a collaborative and meaningful partnership.

Both groups of representatives committed to working together to advance Pacific educational and wellbeing interests.

Moving forward

Professor Mills says it was a very successful day and she looks forward to seeing the outcomes from the meeting in the coming months and years. “It was a great opportunity to ensure the University’s programmes are relevant, as well as proposing professional development initiatives and exploring research objectives. We explored the possibility of a pipeline to internships, placements, and employment at the DHBs, as well as guest teaching, ongoing advisory, and much more. The day ended with both parties moving toward formalising an agreement with short, medium, and long-term outputs and outcomes.”

Associate Dean Pacific, le afioga o Gisa Dr Moses Faleolo from the School of Social Work, says the ava ceremony, is a very sacred and important ritual in Sāmoan culture. “It’s not conducted regularly but only for special occasions by Sāmoan elders to mark important events, such as formal visits by guests and its practices vary slightly from one culture to another according to their use and customs. It includes oratory exchanges and the acknowledgement of title precedence for men and women, and appointed representatives of the host and the visiting party, and the importance of the fono [meeting].

“This is followed by the drinking of the ava which is distributed according to the order of titles and positions of participants involved, but more importantly, symbolises the coming together of the host and visiting parties,” he says. “In essence, an ava ceremony helps to forge ties and partnership between parties for various purposes that in the long run develop into secured reciprocal relationships,” he says.

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