The Fono

Health & Social Services

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From Heartbreak to Hope

When Laki Laulu went to The Fono because he wasn’t feeling well, staff knew it would require more than medicine to help him.

Laki and his family came to New Zealand from Samoa in 2005 seeking better education opportunities for their five children. For the first few years the decision appeared to be paying off as he found employment as a furniture maker then a cable layer. They found a nice home in Henderson to live in and his children were excelling in sport.

It was challenging to balance work and sport commitments, and it started to impact the family as Laki was trying to juggle that with his factory job. Laki’s health was adversely affected and because of the accumulating sick days he lost his job.

From there his and his family’s lives spiralled out of control. He didn’t have a full driver’s license and the car wasn’t registered. Fines and debts continued to mount and the children often went to school with no lunch and no shoes to wear.

He sold everything he could, including the washing machine, to survive and also fulfil cultural obligations. The financial stress kept mounting.

When The Fono found out the depth of his despair, Laki was connected with Tala Naseri, a Whanau Ora Navigator and fellow Samoan.

Laki and his Navigator worked together, naming issues that were problematic for the family and identifying solutions to help him and his family move forward with a clear plan.

Tala says being able to dialogue with the client in Samoan really made a difference and helped Laki to drive his own family plan with Whanau Ora support.

Together they identified the financial strain and stress Laki was experiencing, which was affecting his health and the happiness of the whole family.

The family were referred to Work and Income, who were able to provide assistance with some of their needs including payment of vehicle repairs.

Whanau Ora was able to assist the family with their Driver’s Licence and registering their vehicle. This provided the family with peace of mind whilst carrying out many of their tasks requiring transport.

“By warranting the family car and registering it, Laki is now able to take his children to their sports without worrying about getting fined and adding to the family’s debt”.

Whanau Ora also assisted the family to replace their washing machine.

“My role as a Whanau Ora navigator is to support him by giving Laki information of where to find the resources,” says Tala.

The positive change has also extended to Laki’s health. He suffers from gout and was encouraged to exercise and eat healthier food.

He was referred to The Fono health promotion team and started going on regular walks through his neighbourhood. He now says he hasn’t felt so healthy in years.

The Fono have also supported the family with education about Rheumatic fever and bowel screening.

“The family is happy and doing things together again, sharing ideas that help them to move forward. Laki understands his obligations to support the family as the father, and Whanau Ora has supported him to get back on that pathway.

There are tears as Laki describes the impact The Fono’s Whanau Ora service has had on him and his family.

“I felt I had nothing and no one to turn to,” says Laki.

“I’m so thankful to Tala and The Fono for finding out what my life was like and being able to help. As the father, it is my responsibility to support my family. Being unable to do it has been heart-breaking for me. I feel healthier than I have for a long time. But what I want now is to find a job. That’ll be the best way I know I am helping my family.”


Whanau Ora has been able to work in partnership with Laki and his family through completing a comprehensive assessment and identifying their needs. Both the Navigator and family developed a plan that would meet current needs and plan for future needs particularly financial. So far, Whanau Ora has supported them through:


Financial burden with mounting debt including:

  • Selling the washing machine to make ends meet
  • Children often went to school with no lunch and no shoes to wear
  • No warrant or registration for their vehicle with constant fines
  • Unhealthy lifestyles, suffering from gout and at risk of other health issues

Support provided by The Fono

  • Whanau Ora Navigation service assessed the family and develop a family plan
  • Referred to The Fono Health Promotion team who encouraged exercise and eating healthier foods
  • Supported to ensure their vehicle was road worthy and registered
  • Supported the family to access a washing machine
  • Bowel screening support
  • Rheumatic fever education session

Referral to other services including

  • Referred to Work and Income for assistance with car repairs

The Fono’s Whanau Ora services

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