Healthy lifestyle information for Pacific communities

News
27 Feb 2017

Samoan and Tongan communities can now access healthy lifestyle information in their own language, with the recently translated BeSmarter tool.

Currently used by health professionals across the country to guide families to make healthy lifestyle choices, the information sheet was translated to ensure equitable access for Pacific communities. 

Malu Tulia, service manager at Etu Pasifika – a Pacific healthcare provider in Canterbury – translated BeSmarter into Samoan. During a family trip to her home country last year, she consulted with village elders to ensure the resource was adapted appropriately and easy to understand. “It was quite challenging as I couldn’t just translate it word for word,” she says.

BeSmarter is an A4 printed resource, developed by Waikato DHB and Sport Waikato in 2014 as a first point of discussion with families and caregivers about a child's health.

Malu has been working with the Samoan community in Christchurch for the past 10 years. She says as translation is a large part of her role, she realised providing a BeSmarter resource in Pacific languages would be invaluable. “Many people migrate from Samoa to Canterbury – around 150 families arrived last year. I’ve seen a lot of them struggle with their eating habits and weight, so this is why I’m so passionate about BeSmarter.”

She says changing from a life of incidental exercise to a more sedentary lifestyle can be a difficult transition. “In the islands we eat what we want but are we are very active and walk everywhere. Here, you eat and you sit down all day at work and drive everywhere. So if fitting more exercise into your life isn’t an option, you really have to watch what you eat – so part of what I do is helping to educate families about healthy eating.”

Malu was approached by the South Island Alliance to translate the resource into Samoan, and her former colleague Tokanga Vehikite provided the Tongan translation. “I realised this was a great opportunity to help these communities further. Being provided with a resource in their own language means they are already engaged with the idea before I meet with them.”  

The South Island Clinical Advisory Group for childhood healthy weight would like to sincerely thank Malu and Tokanga for their time and expertise working on this project.

The new translated BeSmarter resource is currently being finalised for distribution.