Understanding Pacific people

Latu To'omaga shares some ways that supporters can approach Pacific families and connect with them in a meaningful way. Showing empathy is particularly important when supporting new families, whatever their ethnicity or cultural background.

In this short video clip, Understanding Pacific Parents | Tākai(external link), community champion Latu To'omaga talks with the Parenting Resource’s Vicky Ellison about the ways that a whānau supporters can approach Pacific whānau to connect with them in a meaningful way.

He talks about having some knowledge about the family’s backstory. Knowing a little about the history of the family is important – although always be careful not to make assumptions!

He also mentions the importance of empathy, which is being able to put aside our own opinions or beliefs and accepting others without judgement. This article, Building empathy, includes supporting information about empathy.

Different ways of showing empathy

When we show affection through hugs, and kind and encouraging words and actions, we help a child to feel loved and worthy. Pacific people may show their love and empathy in different ways, for example: 

  • participating in church life 
  • ceremonies – for example, the haircutting ceremony marks an important milestone in a child’s life where other families show their support by gifting money to help with the child’s future aspirations 
  • extended family – the wider family members are involved with the care of the child, not just the immediate family.

The supporting information article, Working well with whānau, covers many areas that are worth thinking about when you’re approaching new families, whatever their ethnicity or cultural background.