Media Release 27 November 2019|The Counties Manukau Health (CM Health) Pacific Mental Health team, Faletoa, is celebrating two prestigious awards received by two of their senior staff.

Clinical Lead Angeline Hekau and Nurse Lead and Senior Lecturer in Nursing at AUT, Dr Sione Vaka received gongs from the New Zealand Nurses Association and the Australian College of Mental Health Nurses respectively for their services and for further research.

Clinical Lead Angeline Hekau accepted the 2019 New Zealand Nurses Association Award for services to nursing or midwifery in recognition of her work in the nursing profession and with the Niuean and other Pacific communities.

Ms Hekau has been part of the Faletoa Services since it started in 1999 and set up the first nurse-led mental health clinic in Niue with Dr Vaka in 2007and held clinics for many years.  In addition, she has strong connections with local Pacific communities as the founding member and chair of Penina Trust.

The Penina Trust provides support services for mental health and addiction and housing services in South Auckland.

“I am very grateful. It’s the work of the people that came before me that made this possible. It is an award for the Pacific and Counties Manukau communities that I serve,” says Ms Hekau.

Faletoa Service Manager Charles Tutagalevao says the service is proud of Ms Hekau’s achievements.

 “We are very proud to have her as part of our team and that after many years working here she still has the same energy and enthusiasm,” he says.

Nurse Lead and Senior Lecturer in Nursing at AUT, Dr Sione Vaka won the 2019 Research Award from The Australian College of Mental Health Nurses.

“My research investigates the effectiveness of a Tongan model, ūloa, a traditional fishing tool that captures Tongan worldviews and provide a platform for mental health services, traditional healers, NGOs, community and others to talk to each other and ensure that no one is left behind”, says Dr Vaka.

“It is great for Pacific mental health to have this award and to know that this research is acknowledged at the international stage. It has been challenging but fantastic to know that people are keen to hear about Pacific research and evidence; it’s a great opportunity to start making changes in practice.

“In my work at CM Health, I am hoping to contribute in terms of building Pacific mental health nursing workforce; to recruit and retain nurses and also support them into their full potential. I would also like to encourage research to provide evidence to inform practice and improve quality of care for Pacific people.”

According to Anne Brebner, Clinical Nurse Director Mental Health, the award “is a well-deserved recognition to the high standard work that Sione does. He is such a role model for others. When someone is having a bad day I remind them of the acronym WWSVD - what would Sione Vaka do.”

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