Community Health Support Worker
After 25 years’ working in public health, Carmen Collie has found a new outlet for her skills and passion.
At an official ceremony on Friday, Tangata Atumotu Trust welcomed Collie as its new general manager.
Collie said the ceremony and support by all those that attended was incredible and humbling.
During her years in public health, Collie had carved out a niche for herself in alcohol harm reduction, which she had done at a local, regional and national level.
Six years-ago, Collie and her family moved down from Auckland, which saw her continue with project management and included leading the development of an alcohol action plan for Christchurch and co-leading a study on tertiary wellbeing in the South Island.
Collie heard through her networks that TAT was looking for a General Manager.
“People started saying ‘this could be a bit of you so why not put your hat in the ring’.”
Having worked as an independent contractor for more than 20 years, Collie thought it might be time to join a team again.
“The board saw my passion and enthusiasm, and here I am today. It is an absolute honour that they have entrusted their precious organisation to me. I hope I can do them proud.”
The mother-of-two had three simple, yet significant, things she wished to bring to TAT.
They were enthusiasm, fa’aaloalo (respect) and alofa (love).
Collie said Tangata Atumotu Trust had a long and proud history in Christchurch.
She hoped to build on that existing foundation to increase the breadth of services.
“Things are coming together that will enable the organisation to fly. There are lots of exciting things in the wings, so hopefully we can build on these, really raise the profile of the organisation and increase the breadth of services that we are able to offer to our community.”
“We have a really committed board and staff.”
She wanted to see TAT address determinants of health, including working towards the removal of barriers that prevent the Pacific community from achieving high levels of health and wellbeing.
Collie is passionate about Pacific culture, with her own husband and two daughters being Samoan.
“With the support of my aiga Samoa and the wider Pasifika community, I hope I can make a meaningful contribution towards better outcomes for Pasifika here in Canterbury.”
When Malo arrived in New Zealand as a student from Samoa, he expected he would one day return to his homeland to serve his people.
When his plans changed, he committed to serving his people from afar.
For more than a decade, Malo has led Christchurch’s Tangata Atumotu trust.
In August 2018, he stood down from the position of operations manager, to spend more time with family.
“I never went back to my homeland, so my own conscience, even though I paid the bond back when I got to New Zealand, was very much affected by it - that I hadn’t served the people in Samoa. So that’s why I’ve done the work I have,” says Malo.
“I can safely say, I served my people, the way it was supposed to be, but that I never did in Samoa.”
Many years ago, Malo arrived in New Zealand as a scholarship student from Samoa.
“I was supposed to come to school here and then go back to help the people. But things changed because I fell in love. That’s not in the scripture.”
“That changed my path. So I did go back to Samoa to work but it was never the same.”
Malo graduated from the University of Canterbury, where he met his wife, with a Bachelor of Science, in Operations Research.
In 2003 Malo was offered a position on the board of Tangata Atumotu Trust, which was then under different management.
In 2009, Malo became the operations manager on a permanent part-time basis.
“When the Trust first started, culture and religion were intertwined in Pacific culture... When you have those two things on board together, that’s the community.”
Malo says the support from the Church, culture and people combined, had helped keep the Trust “alive for all this time”.
Tangata Atumotu Trust is Christchurch’s longest-standing Pacific Health Provider.
“We have the people with us.”
“When you start, it’s important to get their trust. And when you do, it gives you a mandate to speak on their behalf.”
Malo has been speaking on behalf of the Pacifika community ever since, on a raft of issues, including health, poverty and housing.
For his own health reasons, Malo is now taking a back seat - a move his family are happy with.
“I am missing our people. And the exercise classes with our matua. It is like a meeting every week. People come to exercise and chat.”
“But you feel within yourself that it is time to go. As a human being, you have to realise you need to give other people the opportunity to take the organisation in a different direction.”
Malo has some parting words for all those who have supported the Trust and joined him on his journey.
“Take the opportunities and services that are on offer.”
Malo is very proud of his two children, a doctor and a lawyer, and he is hopeful they will continue to serve the community as he did.
He also wants to encourage the community to save money where they can for the future, for themselves and their families.
As for the future of the Trust?
“I know the people are in good hands and for me that is very important,” says Malo.