Pacific approach - Fonofale Model

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Kaupapa Māori and Pacific Frameworks

The Nōku te Ao  strategy is grounded in Kaupapa Māori - so the work we do speaks to kaupapa Māori principles in some way. We do this to ensure that our work to end mental distress discrimination is equitable and benefits everyone in Aotearoa, and to be the best Te Tiriti o Waitangi partners that we can be. For these reasons, we ask that your application speaks to one or more of our kaupapa Māori principles. Choose one or more principles from our list here, and look at our tips on how you could speak to them.

Using an equity approach, Nōku te Ao also aims to create better outcomes for our Pasifika communities. Understanding that Pacific communities may experience discrimination differently to Māori, we are open to the use of Pacific frameworks and approaches. If this applies to your project, in your application, we ask that you speak to the use of the Fono fale model.

Fono Fale

The Foundation or the Floor of the Fale: (Aiga (Samoan), Kopu Tangata (Cook Islands), Kainga (Tonga), Magafaoa (Niue), Family)  

Represents the family which is the foundation for all Pacific Island cultures. The family can be a nuclear family as well as an extended family or constituted family that are bound by kinship, titles, marriage, partnership or covenant agreement which forms the fundamental basis of Pacific Island social organisations. The history and genealogy are in the foundation/floor/family which ties them to titles, lands, motu/islands, sea and to the Gods of the Pacific as well as to other cultures.  

The Roof (Culture)   

Represents cultural values and beliefs which shelter the family for life. Culture is dynamic and is constantly evolving and adapting. In New Zealand, culture includes the culture of New Zealand-raised Pacific people as well as those Pacific people born and raised in the islands.  

Four Pou

Mental Health Foundation


The first pou relates to the sense of wellbeing which stems from a belief system that includes either Christianity or traditional spirituality relating to nature, spirits, language, beliefs, ancestors and history, or a combination of both.


The second pou relates to biological or physical wellbeing. It is the relationship of the body which consists of anatomy and physiology as well as physical or organic and inorganic substances such as food, water, air and medications that can have either positive or negative impacts on physical wellbeing.


This pou relates to the wellbeing or the health of the mind which involves thinking and emotions as well as the behaviors expressed.


The last pou relates to variables that can directly or indirectly affect health such as, but not limited to, gender, sexuality/sexual orientation, age, and socio-economic status.

The Fale is encapsulated in a cocoon or circle that contains dimensions that have direct or indirect influence on one another


This dimension addresses the relationships and uniqueness of Pacific people to their physical environment. The environment may be rural or an urban setting.


This dimension relates to the actual or specific time in history that impacts Pacific people.


This dimension relates to the where/how/what and the meaning it has for that particular person or people. The context can be in relation to Pacific Island reared people or New Zealand reared people. Other contexts include country of residence, legal, politics and socioeconomics.