Our POPO Interns for the Summer of 2022-2023

Ni sa bula vinaka, ni hao, ciao, hello, kia ora, my name is Susana Jones, and I am of Fijian (Kadavu), Chinese (Guangdong), Italian, and English descent. I am a PhD and clinical psychology student at the University of Otago. Over the summer of 2022/2023 I was very fortunate to be placed with Pacific Trust Otago as part of the POPO Internship Programme.

I had a few main objectives heading into this internship. I hoped to build lasting connections with various community members. I hoped to learn more about how clinicians incorporate Western and Pasifika knowledge into their practice to improve the health of their clients. And, I hoped to learn about how a Pasifika provider and clinicians might approach the vulnerable topics of mental illness, mental distress, and mental health. It is safe to say that during my internship experience, all these objectives were more than met.

My experience at Pacific Trust Otago has revealed to me the great lengths that Pasifika providers go to in order to ensure that the needs of their communities are met. I observed that a holistic, client-centered approach to healthcare that considers the needs of the individual in their context is the most effective way forward in serving our people. I have realized the value of my own voice and expressing my opinion, and the importance of incorporating many varied perspectives into decision making processes. I have come away with many cultural learnings that I will carry with me in all aspects of life moving forward. These are just a few of the many lessons I have learnt over the course of this internship.

I leave this internship taking with me a re-invigorated sense of inspiration to serve my communities and live out my life’s purpose. I have gained further clarity surrounding my life goals, career goals and endeavors for the future, and I have this internship to partly thank for that clarity. I leave this internship with the intention to continue nurturing the vā I have built with Pacific Trust Otago, their staff, and the community/communities that they serve. I look forward to putting the lessons I have learnt into practice moving through life and my career.

Vinaka vaka levu.


Mālō e lelei, ko hoku hingoa ko Jordan Okusi Quensell. I am currently in my fifth year of Postgraduate Diploma in Clinical Psychology, and second year of a PhD. I had the privilege to serve Tagata Moana in Dunedin with Pacific Trust Otago (PTO).

I could not be more grateful to PTO for the experiences of the past eight weeks, from administering and observing community-based programs, distributing food parcels, judging PTO's gardening competition, observing board meetings, attending an alcohol-harm talanoa, shadowing Pacific leaders in our community, and meeting many community members. Through these experiences, I was able to talanoa with the community about the factors that influence our physical, mental, familial, and spiritual wellbeing and become confident operating within a Pacific health provider. Without a shadow of a doubt these experiences will be central to my development, motivation, and confidence as a Pacific health professional in pursuit of service to my community.

The lesson I valued the most however, was understanding the importance of the Pacific lens through which I must view not only health, but also the ways in which health initiatives are delivered. This has prompted me to stand unyielding in my conviction that culturally distinct approaches will be central to improving Pasifika wellbeing in Aōtearoa New Zealand.

Finally, I am so grateful to POPO for Providing me with this opportunity, and for the learning, fellowship, and inspiration to continue advocating for our people and empowering them to achieve a life they desire and deserve. I look forward to watching both POPO and PTO grow in the future.

Malo 'aupito.