Psychiatric Nurse for Etu Pasifika Christchurch, Mrs Seini Falefata, says the situation in Tonga has been challenging for families in New Zealand because they have a strong sense of connection to their home island.
“Even though it’s happened in Tonga, we feel like we’re back home right there with them. We sit in bed at night and imagine where the waves had gone. The trauma of our families back home is definitely traumatic for our families here too.
For a lot of our families in Tonga, there’s the grief of losing their home or having to be relocated. You leave ancestors, you leave your history and so those emotions are quite raw. It doesn’t matter where you are as a Tongan, you still feel it as if you are back home.”
As a Tongan herself dealing with the stress of the crisis in Tonga, she encourages families to talanoa with each other to help navigate their emotions of stress and anxiety.
“The past few weeks I’ve had to remind myself what I remind others to do. It’s a busy time for us here in New Zealand and you get drowned in the busyness to the point that you don’t have time to think about your emotions.
We have each other, our families and our loved ones that are there to support us. Remember to look after yourself and have that allocated time to talanoa with your family; remember that we’re all in this together.”
Mrs Falefata emphasizes that engaging in talanoa requires quality time to be set aside.
“Being able to make time to make yourself available is important. I know I'm here for my kids, they can come and talk to me; I’m here for my mum, I'm here for everyone, but do they know that?
Make sure you’re available, so if your children or your parents need to talanoa, they know you’re there and can talanoa with you without feeling like they are burdening you. I think that’s the best thing we can do; be there for each other, look after each other and be there for one another.”
Mrs Falefata also encourages the Tongan community to hold onto their faith as a means of bringing a sense of calm to their families.
See the full segment here. The Ngalu Fānifo segment is once a week on 531’s Pacific Days show with Ma’a Brian Sagala at 12:40pm. You can listen in on the radio or livestream on the 531 Facebook page.
Date: Monday 14 February 2022