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PFL Partner Series: Fonua Ola
Updates / Community , 31 Oct 23
Fonua Ola, a wellbeing centre for Pacific families, stands as a pillar of strength with its mission to empower families.

Located in Otahuhu, South Auckland, Fonua Ola is committed to enhancing family well-being through a diverse range of services. The organization's unwavering dedication ensures families are secure, healthy, and poised for a prosperous future, fostering a better tomorrow.    

Currently, Fonua Ola operates with two navigators, Meroma Tofae and Eseta Malifa, and overall have a team of thirty six staff members who all carry out impactful and meaningful work for the community.     

Brenda Simmons, Chief Executive for Fonua Ola, relays her hopes to see increased capacity in their workforce as community needs continue to grow.   

"We’d definitely like to see our team expand over the next few years. A part of our vision is to of course - grow."   

The Pasifika Futures programme, in collaboration with Fonua Ola, also seeks to support Pacific families in achieving their aspirations in education, training, economic development, health, participation in the community, developing cultural capital and strengthening their identity and family development.   

Tofae, Navigator for Fonua Ola, shares that although their work entails looking after families and regular check-ins, not every day is the same.   

"Every day is never the same, we’re always prepared to go to work and know that the day is likely to look very different from the last to the next. 

"Only recently did I show up to work for a regular day only to be called out for an urgent case and spent the whole day with that family who needed our support. The needs of our community are always differing too." 

For both Tofae, and fellow navigator Malifa, it is crucial that the work that they do with the families and communities is impactful, meaningful and sustainable.     

"We want our families to ultimately become problem solvers, to be their own navigators in their lives," shares Malifa.

"Historically, Pacific people once were navigators and at times we may see that we’ve lost our way but there will always be solutions to our problems." 

Malifa shares how the most rewarding part of working in the organization is with witnessing families overcome the hardships that hold them back.    

"Seeing stress be lifted from families in all areas is the most rewarding part of my role with Fonua Ola."   

For both Malifa and Tofae,  the last year has been meaningful. Under their stewardship, a new initiative was launched that saw mothers and daughters provided and hosting a space for honesty and communication. Both navigators say this was a huge highlight for both of them.     

"We’d love to see it as a permanent offering," shares Tofae.   

Malifa and Tofae highlighted the significance of having a leader like Simmons, who encourages open communication channels and commended her receptiveness to new ideas.  

In recognition of the crucial and demanding work undertaken by both navigators and the rest of the team, Simmons acknowledges the value of their contributions amidst their l staff size.    

"I’m privileged to be in this position. I love seeing our staff shedding light into the lives of the families that come into Fonua Ola." 

For Pasifika families looking for support, Fonua Ola’s referral system is located on their website here.