Pacific Health Research Symposium 2020: Inaugural Symposium a resounding success

More than 200 people gathered in Auckland in person and online for the inaugural Pacific Health Research Symposium to hear from renowned organisations, health specialists, academics and senior students share their research projects and programmes that are designed and delivered for Pacific communities.

The event was held at the University of Auckland’s Manukau campus on Monday 30 November and was organised in partnership between the Pasifika Medical Association (PMA) and the University of Auckland, Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences. Associate Professor and senior PMA member, Dr Colin Tukuitonga, DMS, MPH, FAFPHM, FRNZCGP, hosted the event.

There were 120 people, ranging from students, doctors and other members of the health and education sector, that registered and attended the event. A further 100 participants joined via Zoom from all over New Zealand and across the Pacific.

The event gave speakers and participants the opportunity to present their research, discuss projects and foster new collaborations. Topics of discussion ranged from mental health and wellbeing, reclaiming Pacific spaces and diabetes research.

“It was a very successful event and helped forge respectful, effective and genuine partnerships,” says Dr Colin Tukuitonga.

“We all have different strengths and if we can come together and share our knowledge, then we have more of a chance to be successful.”

Also, in attendance as presenters and facilitators were senior members of the PMA, president Dr Kiki Maoate ONZM FRACS, fellow board director Dr Teuila Percival QSO FRACP and PMA Director of Performance and Evaluation, Seini Jensen.

Dr Percival shared about child health research and Jensen spoke about the work of the PMA and Pasifika Futures.

“The symposium was very valuable,” says Dr Percival. “Most of the time, we are working on our own projects and can be unaware of what each other is doing.

It was great to hear about other projects out there that are working towards helping our Pacific families.”

Jensen says it’s important for researchers who are focussed on Pacific communities to have an open line of communication with each other in order to avoid any duplication.

“It’s important to have everyone come face to face and have these conversations,” she says.

Dr Maoate says this event was the first time the PMA had worked closely with the University of Auckland and its success has forged a strong partnership.  

“We already have a big information system, and we are finding ways to contribute even more, by building capacity, structure and resourcing.”

The success of the event means it will likely become an annual fixture moving forward which is a great outcome for the researchers and the Pacific community.

#pmafamily #pacifichealthRS

Date: Tuesday 1 December 2020