A violence prevention programme specifically tailored to Pacific Islanders in New Zealand was launched by the Government today.

The new service, called Atu-Mai, will be managed by Pasifika-focused non-profit organisation Le Va and will cost $6 million over five years.

ACC figures showed that young Pacific people were three times more likely to be exposed to family violence compared with the general population. They made up a disproportionate number of ACC assault claims and their injuries from assault tended to be worse.

At the same time, three quarters of violent or sexual incidents experienced within Pacific families were not formally reported.


ACC Minister Iain Lees-Galloway said low rates of reporting - which was often the result of cultural barriers - limited the Government's understanding of the issue and masked the extent of the problem.

To inform the new service, Le Va carried out two years of research into the underlying conditions and risk factors for violence which were unique to Pacific people.

Chief executive Monique Faleafa said the organisation found that violence could scar the lives of individuals and families for generations.

"When our young Pasifika people are exposed to violence, they are at increased risk of behaviour, physical, emotional and mental health problems, including being at higher risk of suicide," she said.

Dr Faleafa said the Atu-Mai programme would help young Pacific people to be confident and resilient and to develop healthy family and social relationships.

"Atu-Mai will focus on enhancing factors that provide protection from violence and reduce the likelihood of being a victim or offender … in the first place."

Pacific Peoples Minister Su'a William Sio said the service would have a hugely positive impact on Pacific communities.

"For far too long we have told ourselves that it was okay to harm the most vulnerable members of our family, which is unacceptable and has no part in our culture.


"That practice is wrong and does not align with the heart of our culture, which is alofa [love] and is about being kind and patient, which needs to be reflected in the words we use to our aiga [family]."