Palu Toronibau is a Registered Nurse for elective surgeries at the Manukau Surgery Centre. She is proud to have been born and bred in Fiji and shares what it means personally to sustain her language.
"I'm from the Lau group, and my village is Naikeleyaga. I'm the second oldest of 11 children and the only one to come to New Zealand in 2001."
Married with four kids, Palu is committed to ensuring her children stay connected to their roots.
"I belong to the Soqosoqo ni Cakaudrove Group, a group we formed to help maintain our culture. We meet every two months, have camps, weaving, and cook the Lovo (underground oven)."
Being Fijian has taught her the value of respect, faith, and always being ready to help.
For Palu, nurturing the language is an ongoing commitment.
"My oldest two are fluent, while my two younger kids are getting there. It's also important to go back home as a family."
Palu recently returned to Fiji this year for the first time since the pandemic started.
"I lost both my parents in that time, my father in 2020 and my mother just before travel was allowed on the island.
"Going back allowed me to pay my respects. I felt so much better, getting grounded and seeing my family."
She mentions her aunty being the first indigenous Fijian to be Director of Nursing, who inspired her to become a nurse.
"My mother's side of the family works either in education or medicine, so it's natural for me to choose a healthcare career."
She says the most rewarding part of her job is knowing she's done her best to see the patient recover.
"My passion has always been to make a difference to help Pasifika people, and working at Counties Manukau has allowed me to connect with many of our people."
A seasoned nurse who will celebrate 30 years next year, Palu's thirst for new challenges is still strong, and she would like to pursue her Masters in the future.