10 December 2018
Pacific course looks to address alarming life expectancy statistics
Pacific people need to focus more on improving nutrition, if they are to reverse the alarming life expectancy statistics
which is seeing them dying younger and having higher rates of chronic diseases than all other New Zealanders.
The call for greater focus in this area comes as the Associate Minister of Health Hon. Jenny Salesa officially
recognised the achievements of this year’s graduates of the AUT Certificate of Proficiency in Pacific Nutrition course.
The Heart Foundation’s Pacific Health Manager Mafi Funaki-Tahifote says this year’s graduates are now ready to join the
fight against heart disease.
“The course provides students with hands-on learning and practical nutrition information with a distinctive Pacific
‘flavour’. It’s aimed at supporting New Zealand’s Pacific communities to make better and life-long food choices.
“The course which has been running since 2002, is a very important step forward in terms of improving the cardiac health
and life expectancy of our Pacific people.
“Students are taught to develop meals with a reduced amount of saturated fat and a controlled portion of less healthy
ingredients. All this is done while still maintaining the great taste and flavours of the food.”
Mafi says cardiovascular disease is the primary cause of death for Pacific people and is significantly higher for this
group than for the remainder of the general population.
“Statistics show that 1 in 3 Pacific deaths from heart disease happen between ages 35-65, compared to 1 in 12 for
According to the New Zealand Health Survey 2017/18, 6 out of 10 Pacific adults and 3 out of 10 Pacific children are
obese, increasing their risk of developing cardiovascular disease.1
“It is a serious matter that our Pacific people are dying much younger and the great news is that we can do something
about it. Our Pacific communities need to collectively focus on improving what, how much, where and whom we eat with to
encourage good, healthy and yet tasty food, and with this graduation a brand-new batch of graduates are now well
equipped to go out and spread the healthy lifestyle message.”
1Tier 1 statistics 2017/18: New Zealand Health Survey.