Fa’avae Gagamoe

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.