GO magazine

Living the dream

Caring for Tangata Moana

Quinette Tatupu and Tevita Vungamoeahi are part of Pacific Trust Otago, a charitable organisation that is changing lives through their holistic approach to helping.

13 December 2023

For the past 24 years, Pacific Trust Otago has been on a mission to enhance the wellbeing of Pacific people, by providing much needed health, educational, cultural and social services all under one roof. Quinette’s role is Director Finance & Administration and Tevita is a Nurse Manager, but for both of them this is a lot more than just a day job. They pour their heart and soul into making a difference for their people - and they’ve got big plans for the future too…


“Our approach is, we don’t just treat one individual - we support the whole whanau.

So if a person has a session with the dietitian, for example, they will bring their family and everyone will get useful, professional advice. And during that visit, we can also help with other services they might need: If they have young children or babies, they can use our Well Child service; If they are unemployed, they can use our employment navigator; and our Whanau Ora team can also provide some financial support. The idea is to create a one-stop-shop so people can access all the different services under one roof. That’s our PTO dream.


During Covid we set up a vaccination clinic, because there was a specific need to increase the rates of Covid vaccination for Pacific people. But now that we’re set up, we’re also covering flu, measles, whooping cough and HPV vaccines.

Alongside that we also have a cardiovascular risk assessment service. Through our own knowledge of the community or through referrals from other GP practices, we’re able to connect with people who otherwise aren’t accessing the health services they need. And there are always reasons for that - it could be cultural, it could be a language issue, or it might be for financial reasons. We try to break down those barriers so people can reach out for help when they need it.

We want our Pacific community to be able to access the same level of healthcare as everyone else. We can’t fix every problem that someone comes with but at least we’re trying to do something. 

Our goal is to someday own a specific GP practice for the Pacific community. Everything we do is leading towards this. Then we won’t have to wait for referrals. We’ll be able to provide care not just with a clinical medical focus, but also using a holistic approach: Looking at a patient from all aspects and considering all the factors that might be contributing to ill health.


We love what we do, and knowing that we are serving our people across the region, makes it very rewarding. It is a 24/7 commitment for most of us. When we’re not working we’re spending time with our communities, but we’re always thinking about our work for PTO. 


We tell people, whatever problem you have, come to us with it. We can fix it or support you or we can or we can refer you to somewhere else. But it’s better than sitting with it until it’s too late for us to provide the help. Helping people is the most rewarding feeling for us.”

Helping people is the 
most rewarding feeling 
for us.

Pacific Trust Otago uses Honda cars for their fleet and Tevita says the Honda CR-V is his favourite: “I used the CR-V for my mobile testing of Covid and I could fit all my gear in there. It’s very economical with petrol and has a very strong engine. There’s also Internal GPS installed which is good for travelling around. Although my favourite feature has to be the sound system!”

Find out more about Pacific Trust Otago at pto.nz.

Photography by: Emily Chalk 

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