Pacific Health Models

Pacific Health Models

 “The concept of ‘health’…means the well being of the whole person: that is his/her spiritual, mental and physical well being, which is an interpretation that is consistent with the Pacific’s holistic worldviews. Well-being and health refer not just to individuals but also to communities, the environment in which they live, and the relationship that binds them together. This set of interdependent relationships is what I meant by ‘fonua’ in Tongan, ‘vanua’ in Fijian and ‘whenua’ in Maori. In other words, ‘fonua’ is a Pacific concept of community.” ( Dr.‘AnaTaufe’ulungaki, 2004)(Tu‘itahi, 2007)

The Pacific Health models encompass the cultural, values and belief of health to Pacific peoples. The health of Pacific peoples (Pacific Health) is the balance of different factors/dimension including spiritual, cultural as well as environmental factors on health (Sopoaga, 2011).  

Key Pacific Health Models in New Zealand


The Fonua model is a Tongan framework to health which comprises of five dimensions of life which are inter-dependent and complementary to each other. To maintain harmony in life, health issues must be addressed at all dimensions (Tu‘itahi, 2007). In additional to the five dimensions, there are four phases in the natural order of Fonua (Sione Tu‘itahi, 2009).

The five dimensions of Fonua The four phases of Fonua
  • Sino (Physical),
  • ‘Atamai (Mental),
  • Laumalie (Spiritual),
  • KaingaI (Community), and
  • ‘Atakai (Environmental).
  • Kumi Fonua – search, explore, navigate new fonua;
  • Langa Fonua – form, build and construct;
  • Tauhi Founua – maintain and sustain;
  • Tufunga Fonua – reform and re-construct;
  •  Tauhi Va – maintaining the relationship;
  • Liliu – Change. Fonua accepts change as natural.


Here are the steps to apply the Fonua

  • Identify and scope health issue or need;
  • Identify parties concerned and parties affected;
  • All parties consult;
  • Identify causal/contributing factors;
  • Identify affected dimensions and levels;
  • Identify and apply related values;
  • Generate solutions;
  • Plan and implement;
  • Review, close or plan again.

The Fonua Model


The Fonofale model incorportates the values and beliefs of Samoans, Cook Islanders, Tongans, Niueans, Tokelauns and Fijians. Similar to the Fonua model, health encompasses different foundations of life including family, cultural values and beliefs, spiritual, physical, mental and other. These foundations are interrelated and health is about maintaining and sustaining balance between these foundations (Pulotu-Endeman, 2001).

(Picture source: Pulotu-Endeman, Fonofale Model of Health. 2001) 

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Fonofale Model of Health