First female Pacific partner at PwC New Zealand
Dr Monique Faleafa has been announced by PwC New Zealand as the new partner for the Hauora health sector and will lead the Auckland Hauora practice.
Dr Faleafa has been serving Pacific communities in Auckland for over 20 years in the health and social sectors, working in DHBs and NGOs as a Clinical Psychologist.
"In my clinical work over the past 8 years, I’ve really enjoyed working internationally - including as a mental health advisor to the NRL (National Rugby League), which I hope to continue with," she said in an email
"I was the founding CEO of Le Va, a national NGO focussed on Pasifika mental health and wellbeing. During that time I’ve also done a lot of governance work, serving as a director on various crown entities and businesses, as well as advising and consulting to the government."
She is the first female Pacific islander partner at PwC and is excited to join the firm and looks forward to addressing a range of wellbeing and equity issues with the team. Pacific communities in the health and social sectors have been supportive of her and on the day of her welcoming, nearly 300 people turned up.
"I feel very blessed to be here and to have such amazing support. What’s been really important is that my family and extended family are committed to supporting me in my new role as well. So, it’s not just how I feel, it’s how my whole family and support system feels - and they are excited too!" she added
As a new partner to the firm, she will be supporting key government agencies, district health boards, non-governmental organisations, and private organisations in the health and social sectors to address complex problems and improve the mental health and general wellbeing of all New Zealanders.
Dr Faleafa went on to say that the provision of culturally appropriate professional services will also be provided to Pasefika businesses, and organisations that want to do better for Pasifika people enables long term economic wealth for the betterment of future generations.
He area of specialities are mental health and wellbeing and she believes that according to research, Pasefika people in New Zealand have higher rates of mental distress than the general New Zealand population with Samoans being the larger proportion.
"This includes depression, anxiety and in general, high levels of stress. My view is that there is usually no single cause of this mental distress, there are usually a wide range of contributing factors - like experiencing trauma, violence, sexual abuse, and also feeling disconnected or not accepted," she said
"If we add in things like unemployment, poverty, inadequate housing, the pressure to pay the bills and relationship problems, it’s not surprising that we find it difficult to cope and start feeling psychologically distressed. In New Zealand, there can also be a breakdown of extended family support that you might have back in Samoa."
According to Dr Faleafa, the mental health needs of Pasefika people have not been properly discussed although there is always hope and plans to address these needs. A recent mental health inquiry by the New Zealand government included a list of suggestion of how people can improve their own mental health support system and address these issues which included culturally appropriate approaches to support Pasefika people.
"And for me, culturally appropriate approaches for Samoans means including traditional Samoan worldviews of mental health and wellbeing, which isn’t just about treating people medically. It can also include addressing relationships with family or village, but also including spirituality and even our beliefs about our relationship with ancestors or the land," she said
Dr Faleafa is the daughter of Vui Stephen Niumata from the villages of Lano, Savaii and Fusi Safata. Her mother, Angela Shannahan is a Kiwi of Irish descent. She is married to Rhys Faleafa and she added that she is lucky to have the support of her husband, children and extended family in her new role.