Champion of Pacific health leaves a void.
Subject: Nurses (Appreciation)
Author: Manchester, Anne
Pub Date: 02/01/2012
Publication: Name: Kai Tiaki: Nursing New Zealand Publisher: New Zealand Nurses' Organisation Audience: Trade Format: Magazine/Journal Subject: Health; Health care industry Copyright: COPYRIGHT 2012 New Zealand Nurses' Organisation ISSN: 1173-2032
Issue: Date: Feb, 2012 Source Volume: 18 Source Issue: 1
Product: Product Code: 8043100 Nurses NAICS Code: 621399 Offices of All Other Miscellaneous Health Practitioners
Persons: Named Person: Masina, Siloma Vaimutia
Geographic: Geographic Scope: New Zealand Geographic Code: 8NEWZ New Zealand
Accession Number: 282425922
Full Text: A champion of Pacific health and a leader among Pacific nurses nationally, Siloma Vaimutia Masina, died suddenly in December. Her death has left a void among her family and colleagues throughout New Zealand, one that will be hard to fill.

As Pacific Peoples health adviser at Hutt Valley District Health Board (DHB), Masina was part of the DHB's executive team. She was also chair of NZNO's pacific nursing section (PNS), taking on this role from the section's inception in 2008.

"She was the glue that held the section together," said NZNO professional nursing adviser Margaret Cain. "She was a woman of vision and charisma, the person who pushed to set up the section and the one who held it together. She had a quiet, relaxed manner, with a beautiful smile, and always kept her eye on the prize, rather than on the road blocks or problems."

Section treasurer and close friend 'Eseta Finau said Masina knew how and when to push the boundaries to achieve the outcomes she and the section wanted. "She had that special charm, an infectious laugh and a special way of doing things."

Masina's first experiences living in New Zealand were in sharp contrast to the career she eventually carved out for herself. Her earliest job was working at General Motors in Petone, inserting elements into oven tops, managing this while supporting her university student husband and young baby, who was fostered out during the week.

Determined to get back to nursing, she discovered that her three-year training in Samoa was only recognised as enrolled-nurse equivalent here. In 1979 she enrolled for the three-year registered nurse programme at Wellington Hospital, transferring eventually to the Hurt Hospital. For seven years, she worked as a practice nurse with Petone Union Health Service, helping set up other union and Pacific health services in the Wellington region. She also worked as clinical co-ordinator with Hurt Valley's Pacific Health Services before taking on the DHB adviser role in 2004.

Former Hutt Valley DHB chief executive Chai Chuah, now National Health Board director, remembers Masina as a "passionate, committed and loyal health leader" whose underlying value was to do the very best for the most needy and to advocate ceaselessly for improved health outcomes for Pacific families and communities. "Sometimes our very best are taken from us far too early and this is definitely the case with Siloma," Chuah said. "She has sown many seeds for success and it remains for the rest of us to nurture them to fruition."


Masina was known as a good strategist and a tireless lobbyist of key people in the health sector and at the Ministry of Health (MoH) on how to deliver services more appropriately to Pacific people. One of her most passionate campaigns was to see the Nursing Council's current International English Language Testing System (IELTS) requirement for overseas-trained nurses replaced by something more suitable and appropriate, particularly for nurses from the Pacific.

Just prior to her death, she and the PNS had been working on a MoH proposal seeking support for a smoking cessation trial aimed specifically at Pacific groups.

"The PNS is determined to continue Siloma's good work, though it will be hard to fill the enormous gap her death has created," said Finau.

Sadly, Masina did not live long enough to fulfil her long-term dream of one day returning home to Samoa permanently to set up a nursing service providing preventative health care and health promotion.

Obituary by co-editor Anne Manchester
Gale Copyright: Copyright 2012 Gale, Cengage Learning. All rights reserved.