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Embracing culture and heart health at Pasifika Festival

Heart Health Advocates and Pacific Heartbeat team posing for a picture along with the stand strong banner and love your heart van

The Heart Foundation team were out in full force engaging in heart health conversations at the Pasifika Festival in Auckland, a two-day festival celebrating the diverse and vibrant cultures of Pasifika. This linked in with our Stand Strong campaign, which encourages people to learn about their personal risk of heart disease and take control of their heart health.

As Alexandria Nicholas, Pacific Heartbeat Manager says, the Heart Foundation’s presence at events such as the Pasifika Festival is vital due to the significant health disparities faced by Pasifika communities in New Zealand.

“We can reach a large number of our Pasifika community at this event and deliver important messages about heart health,” she says.

“Pasifika communities have higher rates of heart disease and related risk factors, so having the Heart Foundation present allows for culturally appropriate education, resources, and support to be provided, ultimately contributing to improved heart health outcomes within these communities.”

In New Zealand, heart disease stands as the single biggest cause of death for Pacific people, claiming the lives of more than five Pacific individuals every week.

The Pacific community living in Auckland alone is around 300,000 people, underscoring the importance for our teams to have a presence at such community events.

At the Heart Foundation stand, festival visitors were offered blood pressure and pulse checks, along with support on improving health through nutrition, increased physical activity, reducing smoking, and encouraging regular family doctor check-ups.

The Heart Foundation team wore Stand Strong t-shirts and dressed in Pasifika-patterned lavalava.

Visitors were given fans with the message ’Love your heart and love your health’, along with information on nutrition courses offered by our Pacific Heartbeat team.

It was great to see so many families dropping by to chat with our Heart Health Advocates while the children did games and activities. Visitors also had the chance to explore interactive displays covering fat and sugar content in common food and drinks.

Tampy Bernard, Pacific Heartbeat Training Facilitator, says the key message to "look after our hearts" underpinned all the conversations, advice and tips given to visitors at the stand.

“People were really engaged, they checked out our stand resources, had chats to the team and went away with a better understanding of the Heart Foundation and the mahi we do for heart health.”

The Pasifika Festival has been a crucial gathering for the Pacific community for more than 30 years and the Heart Foundation was proud to be a supporting partner for the 2024 event.

Alexandria says the Heart Foundation’s presence at Pacific community events is a great opportunity to provide targeted heart health information, and to raise awareness, educate and encourage early detection of heart risk factors and conditions.

“Through these efforts, we aim to improve understanding of preventive measures for better living and effective management of heart health in both our Pasifika and wider communities,” she says.

To read more about the Stand Strong campaign click here