Of Tongan descent (Kolofo’ou, Folaha), Andy is a proud son of Mangere, born and raised in the commuity and schooling at Nga Iwi, Bader and Mangere College. His interest in health stemmed from his concern for the wellbeing of his own family members. He also felt it was a pathway God called him to follow. With conditions like diabetes and heart disease affecting many loved ones, he wanted a career that would help stop life-threatening diseases like these, taking hold of future generations.
Andy started his journey at the University of Auckland, achieving a Certificate and Bachelor’s Degree in Health Sciences before completing a Post-Graduate Degree and Masters Degree in Public Health. He took a short break, working as a labourer, and gained some key knowledge around the inner working of labouring agencies and the current state of health and wellbeing for staff within large scale companies.
Coming back into his chosen career path, one of his most fufilling roles was working with a systems change framework, similar to what Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura also focus on.
Working in Youth Justice with Korowai Manaaki he engaged with incarcerated youth, facilitating programmes to help inspire and motivate different behaviour and thinking. “We looked at overall health and wellbeing and through various activities, programmes and conversations, looked at how we could help change their outlook, in ways that related to them, their upbringing and their situation,” he shares. “It was a great insight on how the surrounding environment has an effect on individuals”.
“I am a coach at Healthy Families Manukau, Manurewa-Papakura. In its simplest form, my role is around helping our communities to help themselves. I believe everyone wants the best in life, we all want to be healthy, but we dont always know how to attain that, or what outside factors have an effect on that. I work with community, groups, and bigger businesses to help empower their own solutions and strategies towards healthier living.”
Projects you are working on:
“I have two key projects I am working with at the moment. The first is around pathways and the #WalkNRideSouthside movement. We are gathering community stories to get their voices heard, using the stories to help advocate for active transport solutions in South Auckland. For some this means more pathways for biking and walking, better lit areas, breaking stereotypes, the conversations are varied. We have a number of community champions and schools involved who are already doing amazing work out there encouraging more of our people to walk and bike, increasing physical activity for better health. This movement brings all of those voices together to help plan for a healthier future.
“The second is around The Otara Kai coLABoration which is supporting the people of Otara to prioritise food choices for wellbeing. Connecting local service providers, businesses and community (like some of the mums at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate playgroup) its about understanding perceptions and experiences of food in Otara to look at ways we can help create a healthier food system in the community, long term.”
What is your vision for health and wellbeing for South Auckland?
“To be the healthiest city in the world.”
To see more about the #WalkNRideSouthside Movement visit www.walknridesouthside.co.nz