Afraid of Pasifika people?

An email from a reader:

Re your tip off about Linda Nikora…’Dr Nikora is proposing that the limited places are restricted to Maori only as she does not believe any Pakeha are culturally competent to deal with Maori health issues. She then advised the students that she will be presenting on this issue to an upcoming conference in a bid to ensure Maori only treat Maori”…what don’t you understand about that? I as a Tongan brought up in Tonga understand the cultural paradigm of my fellow Tongans. Do I think a Palagi can understand the pyshology of Tongans simply because they’ve done degree in psychology? In short no…over the years I have witnessed Pakeha psychologists in trying to deal with Maori and Pacifica clients…many of whom admit having struggled to build a tangible rapport that led to positive psychological outcomes with their clients.

A particularly well regarded television psychologist is perhaps one of the most limited psychologists I have seen in dealing with Maori and Pacifica clients. There are many psychological nuances that gives one a decided advantage in building a rapport with people of the same ethnicity. In my particular case 51 years of being a Tongan has come in very handy and comparatively I feel well equipped and versed in dealing with Tongans than say someone that has not being a Tongan for the last 41 years. I readily accept a Maori psychologist is far better versed both culturally and in understanding the psychological paradigm of Maori clients and have bore first-hand witness to the rapport Maori psychs can engender with their own…which isn’t an abberation in any regard but more a cultural fit and understanding from both parties.

Mister Slater I saw you in a Manukau food court recently and it was evident to me immediately you were intimidated by Maori and Pacifica people and you were socially awkward and with respect not a man of courage and you would prefer dealing with people of your own ethnicity and social background. Not unusual in any regard and in point of fact a preference for most.

Strange…obviously I was cowering in the corner as I ate my lunch. What an amazing impression from a short lunch time observation.

Clearly you don’t know anything about me. I was born in Fiji. I have assisted on aid projects in Vanuatu and Samoa. I attend a gym owned by Buck Stowers, a Samoan, who I count as a dear friend, and at the gym I am often the only European customer. I assist from time to time at a decile two school in Mangere with the Young Enterprise scheme. This is a school that has just 4 Europeans on its current roll. Amongst those people I call friends are Fa’avae Gagamoe, Sam Lotu Iiga, Alfred Ngaro and Buck Stowers plus many countless people I interact with on a day to day basis in and around Manukau.

The last thing of course is there isn’t a single person or even a race of people that I fear or am intimidated by. I take people as I find them and do not judge on the appearances of just one lunchtime.


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  • Cactus Kate

    You ate at a south Auckland food court? Jesus wept..

    • ConwayCaptain


      Fly him to HK and give him some REAL Chinese food.

      • Roflcopter

         I hear the cat is particularly nice at this time of the year.

    • MrV

      Whale, sounds like Cactus would like to eat there on her next visit, quick wipe down a table and reserve a food court tray.

  • Kthxbai

    Well, that’s easy then.  In future I want to receive medical treatment only from born and bred NZ’ers like me who are 1/4 scots, 1/4 unknown, 1/8 Maori, 3/8 Irish.  No English or immigrants of any sort, the buggers don’t understand me.

  • ConwayCaptain

    Before my wife died and she spent a considerable amount of time in Hospital,  North Shore and Auckland.

    At the start of the shift when the nurse came in to say she was looking after her for the shift, if the nurse was European or Polynesian/Maori she was quite happy as they had a good rapport with the patients.

    If they were Asian she was not happy as she found that they did not have a rapport with the patients.

    My wife was used to dealing with many nationalities as she spoke Fr and Japanese fluently and was learning Maori when she died.  She was 1/2 Scots and 1/2 Welsh.

    Our son has Scots, Welsh, French and English blood coursing through his veins.

    Our doctor in Akl who looked after my wife and never charged for his weekly visits was part Swedish and Prt Kiwi.

  • MrV

    Call me crazy,  but these people seem to stop at nothing to try and justify their racist sentiment.

    I don’t think anyone has any problem with a patient selecting a Maori or Pacific island medical profession if that is who they are more comfortable with. In the same way that woman may be more comfortable with a female physician.

    The problem only occurs when people, (in this case Dr Nikora) try and enforce laws on the entire sector based on their particular biased beliefs.

    Why can they not understand this ???

  • Whalehunter

    This Tongan idiot is obviously an ignorant racist who is another advocate for separating ethnic groups (separatist), although we aren’t allowed to call him that are we? 

  • Tony

    Do we have to continue to deal with this silliness?  This Tongan would probably feel better surrounded by his/her own kind – maybe a return to Toga would be appropriate. 

    No – wait – the benefit here is much better.

  • Paul

    Probably that triple decker brontasaurus burger that you were finding so intimidating WO ?

  • Roflcopter

    What would a Tongan know about Maori health issues?

  • rouppe

    All of which studiously ignores the fact that Maori and Pasifika are not the only ones that need counselling. What Nikora is suggesting ends up with no Euopeans in clinical psychology because racists like her don’t let them.

    If a Maori or a Tongan doesn’t want to be treated by a European, then fine. Either there is a practitioner of the race you prefer, or there isn’t. Make your choice… If there isn’t you then have to decide whether you want to remain untreated. Your choice.

    But at a University, this seperatist/racist attitude is quite disgusting.

  • Timandtim

     ok – I have a real issue with this…where is Tonga? – Manukau?

  • Salacious T Crumb

    And with teachers like Dr Nikora, it is little suprise that with a few exceptions, the mental health profession is of the caliber it is….

  • Markm

    Imagine the outcry if European New Zealanders refused treatment by non Europeans and required that no training of non Europeans New Zealanders took place for medical positions that weren’t specifically for treatment of Pacific Islands ethnicities.

    It is people like this Tongan idiot and Dr Nikora who give race relations such nasty undertones.

  • Euan Rt

    If the author here is not a psychologist, and I am guessing they may be, he/she is certainly a wannabe psychologist. But to make such stupid character assessments from such a limited observation time is farcical. (downright dangerous if a trained psychologist). I expect if non maori can’t treat maori effectively, Then maori certainly can’t teach non maori effectively. I say get a new lecturer who can effectively teach students, whatever their ethnicity.

  • rufs

    pretty racist of this guy to sum you up like that, so really only shows that there are pasifika people that will never give someone a chance unless they tick the right ethnic box. One might ask prof Nikora what exactly it is about Maori people that would make them unable to establish a rapport with a psychologist that is not the same ethnicity as them , perhaps it is not pakeha attitudes that are the problem, but more a ‘them and us’ attitude from Maori that pervades into everything including the scientific workings of the mind.

  • Mickrodge

    The issue wasn’t about individual preference of treatment it was the racist generalisation employed by Linda Nikora.

    On a side note am I the only one to take offence at being called a palagi/pakeha these days?

    • Euan Rt

      I dont have a problem as long as maori don’t mind being called ‘brownies’.

    • Kimbo

       “On a side note am I the only one to take offence at being called a palagi/pakeha these days”

      Maybe. had plenty of Island friends going to high school in West Auckalnd who called me ‘palagi’ when the context arose. Some were being arseholes, but most weren’t, and it was the natural phrase they would use.

      Why do you find the terms offensive? Strip away all the spurious urban legends about “pakeha” meaning “white pig”, and I think you’ll find there is nothing derogatory in the etymology (derivation) of the word. “Pakeha” as I understand it means “different” as distinct from “maori” which means “ordinary” – was the only vocab the iwi who encountered Captain Cook in 1769 had to make sense of the unusual and unexpected experience that arrived on their doorsteps!.

      And I think “palagi” means “bursting from the sky”. Original derivation uncertain.

      I personally have no problem describing myself as “pakeha”. I’m of at least 6th generation UK origin (from every one the 4 Home Unions – including Irish Catholic – the shame of it!), but I’m certainly not from the UK. Instead, I inhabit a South Pacific country, whose culture and history is, in part, defined by the original settlers who were here about 500 years before my forebears.

      But that’s just me. Not saying you are wrong, or trying to lead some PC witch hunt. You, like all folks, are usually entitled to be addressed by the desriptors and labels and names you perfer.  Just intrigued why you think what you do.

    • Ratchet

      I’m happy just being a Honky. I’m allowed to call myself a Honky, ’cause I’m white – If you call mr Honky, and you’re not ‘of european descent’ then you’re just being offensively racist – just like I’m not allowed to call anyone a Nigger, but they’re free to do it among themselves.

      That’s right, I’m claiming Honky just for us caucasians!

      Well that’s the way it’s working isn’t it? 

  • ConwayCaptain

    Where did Nikora fet her PhD???

    Bet she went to Waikato as an undergraduate and got her Bachelors, Masters and PhD all at the same Uni???

    • timboh

      I would guess you are on the money. The Law school there is a classic example of the type thinking espoused by ‘Dr’ Nikora.  Waikato University is a joke as far as I am concerned.  

      • ConwayCaptain

        I was always under the impression that to get experince and a wider view of the subject that people did their Bachelors at one uni, Masters at another and PhD usuakly at a third.

        To do them all at one uni can only be described as incestuous.

      • Quintin Hogg

        You are right. Most of those I know with PHDs took those degrees away from the University at which they first matriculated.
        That is not quite the case with Bachelors and Masters where the ratio seems to be about 50:50.
        Timboh: I have always regarded Waikato Uni Law school as one of those places that people go when they aren’t accepted at the major NZ Law Schools.

  • Phar Lap

    With comments like that from an un-educated ,so called educated person,called Linda,who or what gave her a caucasion name.Seems someone tried to teach her some common decency.Alas she is totally a Bi -racist,or even worse a Tongan Racist.

  • Euan Rt

    “In short no…over the years I have witnessed Pakeha psychologists in trying to deal with Maori and Pacifica clients…many of whom admit having struggled to build a tangible rapport that led to positive psychological outcomes with their clients.”
    …and I have witnessed Pakeha psychologists trying to deal with pakeha clients who have struggled to build a tangible rapport and have not led to positive outcomes. 

  • Mark

    Perhaps your correspondent might be more happier in Tonga.

  • Steve Taylor

    There is a guaranteed way to assess as to who a client would like to work with, regardless of culture, ethnicity, socio-economic background, income level, personal ideology, or presenting experience: ask them. As a Counsellor in private practice, and Social Services Outcomes Researcher, I would now like to challenge any health professional to front with a meaningful meta-analytic study that concludes methodologically that “cultural matching” for helpers and clients makes one iota of difference and / or positive contribution towards achieving a positive client outcome.

  • Spanishbride

    First of all most of us these days are fruit salad ethnicity wise. I am half Lebanese which is made up of French and Arab ancestry and my other half is Australian made up of Pom, and German ( to name just a few )
    The best and kindest doctor both WO and I have ever known is from Singapore. His culture is totally different to mine but the language of kindness is universal. The female European doctor failed to help me when I found myself throwing up every day for 8 weeks, losing weight rapidly. I was terrified and wanted to know what was wrong with me. The European doctor asked me if I was depressed. I looked at her and said no I am not depressed and wondered why on earth she was asking me such a silly question and what did it have to do with this virus I had.
    Doctor X however looked me in the eye and said Juana you are depressed. You are throwing up because you are depressed. You do not have a virus. The relief that day was unbelievable. Now that I knew what the problem was something could be done to fix it. He is the most caring gentle man and helped both WO and I so much during the years of hell. I judge my Doctors on their actions not the colour of their skin or where they come from or their accent.

    • Grumpy

      Hi Spanish Bride, pleased to see you are part Lebanese. Cam seems to have got the wrong end of the stick recently. Please tell him it’s L-e-b-a-n-e-s-e……………

  • fifibelle

    I wonder whether the apparently gratuitous dig at “a particularly well regarded television psychologist” might relate to the fairly well publicised involvement one such psychologist has had with offenders in the legal system. Which then makes me wonder just how many opportunities this reader felt were necessary to assess that psychologist’s “limited” performance with these “clients”. Not many one would think, if this reader has such a high regard for their psychological insights that in judging Whale it was “evident to me immediately”. No rapport needed, just a snap observational judgement. 

    When after only minutes of observation someone can come out with “you were socially awkward and with respect not a man of courage and you would prefer dealing with people of your own ethnicity and social background. Not unusual in any regard and in point of fact a preference for most”, it far more likely indicates the psychological phenomenon of projection on the observer’s part, rather than any meaningful reflection of Whale. 

    Heaven help this person’s “clients”, whatever their ethnicity. 

  • Leata

    If i have read this correctly, and I hope I have then I think there are two issues here. 1 – To have summed up an impression or case study of WO while he ate his lunch, judged him and then condemned him to been afraid of brown people. I seriously would question where her / his degree came from. This person obviously suffers from delusions of grandeur and believes that because they have a degree that others in their community / culture do not have they are allowed to judge others.
     2. To say that you can only build a rapport with someone of your own culture is absolute bullshit. It does not matter who the professional is or what they are, you either feel the rapport is there or it is not. My medical professionals have ranged from, German, Samoan, Chinese, European, Indian etc, psychologists and medical doctors and if we didn’t get on it was not because of our race at all it was because it just was. This Tongan has a lot to learn about what society really needs & what her people really need. However in saying all that, there are a lot of demands on our island people that we do feel more comfortable discussing with other islanders about so other races do not look down on us. 

  • Sideoiler

    What a shame 
     “Pakeha are culturally competent” to PAY! for this nonsense.

  • P1LL

    Perhaps your reader does not know how intimidating south Auckland gangs that hang around Manukau food courts and shopping centers can be ?

    • They certainly aren’t intimidating to me.

    • Stevo


  • Arranh

    Can those of us with an actual definable difference in how we think of things (such as people such as myself with aspergers, and yes I hate calling it a disability as I don’t think of it as one) request we have a doctor with aspergers? It would make things much more simple for me (the rest of you think seriously weirdly), and personally I think it is far more relevant than basing it on where someone’s ancestors came from.

    Of course I’m not being serious, I’ll take which ever doctor I’ve given. If someone is to receive psychological treatment and there is multiple people they could receive it from then perhaps at that point give them an option (for example an elderly person may prefer someone else who is older) but otherwise, unless we’re paying for it ourselves, we get who we get. And as such people of all racial backgrounds should be able to receive training, it shouldn’t be limited to one group because their of who there ancestors were.

  • beanyboy

    Imagine the outcry if a “pakeha” refused treatment from a Maori health professional on the basis that they couldn’t understand their cultural needs….