Mental Health Community Support Team
The Vaka Tautua Mental Health Team comprises of community support workers who are passionate
about working with Pacific people who experience mental illness. They are dedicated to the POPAO model (a pacific recovery and strength concept) that is pivotal to the recovery of service users by empowering them through their journey towards recovery. The model also works toward breaking down the discriminatory attitudes held by society towards people with mental illness.
Lota Sika is Tongan and arrived in Aotearoa in 1987. Lota has been widely involved in the Tongan and Pacific community as a leader of women’s groups. Alongside being a regular participant in other community and church activities. Lota holds qualifications from Unitech, Manukau Institute of Technology and Blueprint in Mental Health and is currently studying a Bachelor of Bicultural Social Work at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
Lota is married and supports her husband who is a senior pastor in the AOG Tongan church for over 20 years in New Zealand.
Argentina Fatialofa joined Vaka Tautua after a background in counselling and family therapy. She has worked for Lifeline as a telephone counsellor and has been trained as a Facilitator for the Suicide Intervention programme. She also volunteers with the NZ Cancer Society and Auckland City Mission. Argentina’s formerly worked as a Programme Coordinator for the Elderly (stroke survivors), providing recreational and education programmes to aid them on their journey back to a holistic healthy life style.
Makaafi Mahe is a member of the MICH (Mangere Integrated Community Health) Leadership & Governance Group for the Mangere Community. He is a qualified counsellor in Alcohol and Drug Addiction and has worked for CARE NZ as a group facilitator for the Drink Drive awareness programme. He is a counsellor for domestic violence Te Whare Whakaruru Hau o Meri (Anglican Social Service) and a contract counsellor for Child Youth and Family.
Alphonso Afoa-Scotter joins our Mental Health Community Support Team. Prior to starting with us, Alphonso worked in the Health sector in the Department of Pacific Health at Auckland University and Odyssey House Youth residential. He has work experience in Mental Health, Health Research and Youth Health. Alphonso aims to assist our Pacific people in overcoming their mental health challenges. He is currently undertaking postgraduate study and aims to be an effective Community Support worker for Pacific people.
Faitamai Tamua Toga previously worked in Education before joining Vaka Tautua as a community support worker. He spent many years as a secondary school teacher in Samoa and was also the head master of a primary school for 3 years. Alongside being a part of our team, he still spends time teaching Maths as a home tutor in the community.
Aiga previously worked for Avis Budget Car Rental for almost 13 years and Sistema Plastic for over 2 years in roles such as accounts payable, accounts receivable and payroll administrator.
She then started with Pathways as a support worker in October 2005 and currently worked there as a Casual Support Worker. Aiga has been involved in the community and volunteered for Age Concern where she visited elderly people.
She enjoys and values the company of everyone and especially the elderly people because of the vast experience and knowledge they possess.