19 May 2009

Tongan fellow keen to learn about NZ health service

3:10 pm on 19 May 2009

New Zealand's first Prime Minister's Fellow for Tonga says she is looking forward to learning from the New Zealand health service how it takes care of the Pacific population.

Tongan paediatrician Dr Toakase Fakakovikaetau was named the first Fellow under the scheme, established at the Tongan King's Coronation last year, to promote leadership and ties between the two countries.

Dr Fakakovikaetau says so far under the Fellowship she has done a leadership course, and met with government officials, including the head of the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs, Dr Colin Tukuitonga.

"I was very interested in what Dr Colin Tukuitonga was saying about the choices, even the choices for Pacific Islands [people] in New Zealand are very limited, because of the social issues. So I think they are fighting a harder battle, with all the things that are available to them, and all the things that are not available to them. Whereas in Tonga there would be not as many choices."

Dr Toakase Fakakovikaetau, New Zealand's first Prime Minister's Fellow for Tonga.