Faculty of Medical and Health Sciences

POPLHLTH 739 - Pacific Health

15 Points

Semester 1


Examines a wide range of health issues related to Pacific health. Provides an in-depth analysis with evidence of the global, regional and local issues that determines the health of the Pacific population both in the Pacific region and in New Zealand.

Course content

Goals of the course

The course is designed to introduce to the students the issues that are relevant to the health of Pacific peoples in the Pacific region and New Zealand. These issues include the historical context of Pacific health, ethnicity-specific health issues, non-communicable disease, risks to health, migration, and Pacific health research methodologies. The course will also discuss possible strategies to alleviate these problems.

Learning outcomes 

At the end of the course students are expected to be able to:

  • Understand and describe the key features which affect the health of Pacific peoples in the Pacific region and in New Zealand
  • Identify key strategies to enhance the health and wellbeing of Pacific people
  • Identify areas for future research and interventions for Pacific peoples on health
  • Operate effectively and appropriately in a Pacific cultural setting

Content outline 

The course runs over the first semester and the formal teaching is conducted in 5 full day teaching blocks as follows:

Day 1: Pacific region health profile and NZ Pacific health issues

The first day is allocated to a brief orientation to the course followed by an introduction session to Pacific health issues in the Pacific region. This will be followed by a session on health services, health departments and workforce issues in Samoa, Tonga, Cook Islands and Niue. This session will also include lectures about Pacific migration to New Zealand and non-communicable diseases for Pacific people in New Zealand.

Day 2: NZ Pacific Health profile

This session will discuss further issues related to the health profile of Samoans, Tongans, Cook Islanders and Niueans in New Zealand. Academic and professional development strategies for essay writing will also be discussed.

Day 3: Pacific health research and Pacific student research

This session will discuss and examine Pacific research frameworks and a practical exercise. This day will also showcase a number of Pacific students’ Masters and Doctorate thesis research projects.

Day 4: Pacific programmes and interventions

This session will discuss and examine Pacific health providers and services, programmes and interventions to reduce the health disparities amongst Pacific communities.

Day 5: Site visit to a Pacific health provider

This session will be a site visit to a Pacific health provider. We conclude by reviewing the major topics covered during the course and will discuss the exam format.

Programme and course advice

This is a core course for the Postgraduate Diploma of Public Health specialising in Pacific Health and is a recommended course for a general or health promotion pathway in Public Health. It can also be taken towards a postgraduate certificate or diploma in Health Sciences.

Learning and teaching

The course is offered in semester 1 over 5 days. The teaching methods include lectures and interactive discussions. A number of guest lecturers are involved throughout the course. The expected class size is between 10 and 20 students.

Campus teaching dates 

This course is held at Tāmaki Campus. Please see your timetable on SSO or Building 730 Reception noticeboard on the day for the room details.

Learning resources 

A course book will be given to the students one week in advance of their first day in class. Course information will be available on CANVAS which is the Learning Management system of the University.

All the required and recommended readings are either stated at the beginning of each topic in the course book to facilitate the students’ learning.


Assignment 1 (2000 words) 20%

Select an important health problem that affects Pacific peoples either in the Pacific region or in New Zealand. Examine and critique the issue thoroughly with references to support your discussion. Students are expected to prepare a written essay.

Assignment 2 (3500 words) 30%

Select an important health issue different from your first assignment that is of interest to you that significantly affects the health of Pacific peoples in New Zealand. Prepare a research proposal to be submitted for funding to the Health Research Council of New Zealand (HRC). It should be properly referenced, consist of an analysis of the literature that contributes to the definition of the problem, a description of the current situation, highlights appropriate strategies, options and likely risks in resolving the issue. Further, students are also required to outline a time frame for each task and provide an appropriate budget. 

Examination 50%

The final assessment is a two hour examination which is a summarised assessment that requires students to demonstrate their understanding of the key Pacific health issues and to integrate ideas and solutions learnt throughout the course. 

Note that the examination timetables are not finalised and available to students until 6-8 weeks into the semester. 

Course Coordinator

Course Administrator