Pacific Identities and Well-being Cross-cultural perspectives
Edited by Margaret Agee, Tracey McIntosh, Philip Culbertson and Cabrini ‘Ofa Makasiale
Book review by Liam Butler
Dr Margaret Agee leads the Counsellor Education Programme in the School of Counselling, Human Services and Social Work at the University of Auckland. She explains that the intention of this book’s authors and editors …
"is to make a significant contribution to the literature available on mental health and identity-related matters that are specific to Pacific people, with a particular focus on culturally appropriate ways of thinking about and approaching the mental health needs of those who are often misunderstood within the dominant culture."
When starting to read this book it quickly becomes apparent that you are indeed reading a really useful text, to both the world of academia and for health professionals who want to develop their knowledge of the field of Pacifica and Maori Mental Health.
The book is divided into four parts: Identity, Therapeutic Practice, Death and Dying, Reflexive Practice. Poems by Serie Barford, Selina Tusitala Marsh and Tracey Tawhiao introduce each section. The Maori and Pasifika poems are a perfect accompaniment to the poignant essays.
Researchers, practitioners and the poets talents are combined over 360 pages to provide a myriad of perspectives of mental well-being that give the reader a master class in the cross over of mental health and cultural awareness that would otherwise be very tricky to obtain and begin to comprehend.
Cabrini ‘Ofa Makasiale, MA, is a Catholic sister who works for Relationships Aotearoa Counselling Services and is a counsellor and psychotherapist. Her section on Spirituality and clients’ personal experiences of God in counselling explains that for some Tongan and Samoan clients…
"There is a search for God in the midst of pain- a longing for love and comfort, for harmony and peace within self and with others".
Integral to the well-being of Pacifica and to the joy of others is an ample dose of good humour. Rev. Mua Strickson-Pua contemplates ..
"Why Pacific People laugh loudly" like all wise men Mua knows when to thank his parents…
"Our mother, Jessie Vaitulu Purcell, had a fantastic sense of humour that family and friends enjoyed. She was a humble women of faith, a machinist, and the glue that cemented our aiga/ whanau as one. Complementary was our father, who had a sophisticated humorous storytelling style."
Taking the time to listen and having an audience to share your stories is integral to maintaining ones wellbeing. Rev. Mua quotes the astute Head of State of Samoa, Tui Atua Tupua Tamasese Ta’isi Tupuola Tufuga Efi…
"When we tell and retell stories about ourselves, our families, villages and countries, we learn about ourselves; we remember and celebrate history, heritage and identity. When we tell and retell the tragedies that befall us, we tell of our strengths and weaknesses, likes and dislikes, achievements and failures, biases, and all else that makes us human."
Pacific Identities and Well-being is a significant achievement as it provides the reader with solid understanding of the Pacifica strategies used to protect, restore and maintain mental health.
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