An Auckland-based Tuvaluan nurse says her language and culture have been advantageous in working with vulnerable communities.
Emily Fuika Soapi is a clinical nurse specialist, currently in a secondment role working at the Auckland District Health Board on a project called 'Pacific Planned Care Navigation.'
It aims is to improve the way healthcare resources are designed and delivered while also creating a system that is easy for Pasifika to access and use.
Soapi said she would like to see more confidence, empowerment and trust in Pasifika families, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic.
She said Pacific patients need "increased awareness of how to navigate the health system and engage more positively with services."
Soapi said more was needed to help both Pasifika and Māori communities.
"I hope the effect of our current work around health equity will ultimately shape our health care system to ensure it is responsive to Pacific and Maori needs and that the changes made are at local, regional and government level."
She said she was inspired to help care and support people after working in a private hospital.
According to the nurse, one of the challenges Pasifika faced was the language barrier.
She said her ability to speak the Tuvalu language helped her engage and communicate effectively with patients, families and communities.
Soapi is one of 2,000 Tuvaluans in New Zealand who just finished marking Tuvalu Language Week or Vaiaso o te 'Gana Tuvalu.
The theme for Tuvalu language week was 'Fakatili Te Kiloga Fou' which in English means 'Navigating the changing environment'.
The week coincided with Tuvalu's 42nd Independence celebrations.
Next week the Fijian Language Week will be officially promoted in New Zealand.
Fiji PM sends congrats to Tuvalu
Meanwhile Fiji's Prime Minister, Frank Bainimarama, sent his congratulations to his Tuvalu counterpart Kausea Natano during this week's independence celebrations.
In his message, Bainimarama said Tuvalu's celebration came at one of the world's most challenging times in its history, given the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on sustainable development.
However, the Fijian leader said he was confident the Pacific would come out of the current pandemic stronger and more resilient.
"Tuvalu remains an important member of our Pacific vuvale and I am committed to working closely with you on a firm stance to strengthen and deepen our relations at all levels into the future for the benefit of our people."