Mental Health Peer Support Team
The Vaka Tautua Peer Support Team aims to enhance the recovery of service users in the community by pairing them up with Peer Support staff who have experienced mental illness and recovery. They support each other in the experiences engendering hope and confidence in a brighter and fulfilling future for both.
Epalahame Lauaki - West Auckland
Epalahame is Tongan and his birthplace is Ha'apai. Prior to joining our team in West Auckland Epalahame played professional rugby league football, playing for the Bradford Bulls. He has represented and played for Tonga, Hull F.C, Wigan Warriors, Exiles and the Manly Sea Eagles. Through his League career he played 69 NRL matches for the Warriors and played two tests for the Kiwis. Epalahame joined Vaka Tautua in December, 2016 as a Peer Support worker and through his experience is helping to mentor Tangata Toa dealing with mental illness and encourages those who are experiencing depression to reach out to family and close friends and that it is okay to ask for help.
Pelenaise Lolohea - West Auckland
Pelenaise is Tongan and has recently joined our Vaka Tautua aiga working as a Peer Support worker. She is the oldest of five children and loves listening to music. She wants to use her personal experience to help encourage others through in wellness journey.
Lottie Tiava'asu'e - West Auckland
Lottie Tiava'asue is Samoan and is a member of the Consumer Leadership Steering Group for Isa Lei. She has a Certificate in Mental Health Support Work, and is passionate about serving the needs of Pacific people. Lottie has a farming background, having milked up to 250 cows a day in New Plymouth. She enjoys reading, tramping in the Waitakere Ranges, visiting local art galleries and West Auckland beaches.