Associate Professor El-Shadan Tautolo has been recognised by the Public Health Association of New Zealand for his outstanding leadership and achievement in Pacific public health.
The acknowledgement was from the Annual PHANZ (Public Health Association of New Zealand) Awards, which honours outstanding contributions to the nation’s public health. Tautolo won the inaugural 2020 Pasifika Award, which he dedicated to the late Cook Islands physician and politician, Dr Joe Williams.
While unexpected, Tautolo said he was delighted by the recognition.
“I was amazed but happy to accept it on behalf of our Pacific families and communities, and all of the people that I work within Pacific health research,” he said.
Tautolo has consistently championed public health for Pasifika public health, beginning with his time as a doctoral student 15 years ago, right through to today as an associate professor of public health and Director of the Pacific Health Research Centre based at AUT.
Focussing on Pacific families and communities’ health and well-being, Tautolo heads several research projects, including the pioneering Pacific Islands Families (PIF) Study, which has followed and measured the progress of almost 1,400 Pasifika children born at Auckland’s Middlemore Hospital in 2000.
Tautolo’s research has led to real-world advances and benefits for pacific communities in New Zealand, most notably helping form the Ministry of Health with food and nutrition guidelines, Tala Pasifika smoking cessation interventions the CMDHB Let’s Beat Diabetes service.
“We have been able to build a comprehensive picture of what happens with these families and how the children have developed over time. It has allowed us to focus on important issues for Pacific families, and develop strategies to support them,” says Tautolo.
His PIF study findings have also recently been animated into videos to highlight issues found over the last 20 years. Broken up into several videos, each episode discusses and explores a specific topic, ranging from immunisation to mental health in pacific communities. Altogether the videos have received over 500,000 views worldwide.
Tautolo is also a solid fixture in New Zealand media, providing empirical insight and commentary on pacific health, all while meaning his roots in his family and church.
Other 2020 PHANZ award recipients were Professor Helen Moewaka Barnes for the Tū Rangatira mō te Ora Award and Professor Michael Baker for the Public Health Champion Award.