A counselling programme run by Tongan counsellors in Onehunga, New Zealand is life changing and had provided useful information, according to parents who attended some of the sessions.
Some parents said they found out during the programme, Tauhi Vā Lelei, that they mostly ran into problems at home because they ignored basic skills such as listening and positive thinking.
Kaniva News visited the programme at the Onehunga Community Library at Church street recently.
Some of the women attending said they learnt it was important to listen to their husbands and asked for clarification if they did not understand what their hubbies were talking about or wanted them to do.
One woman said she sometimes talked back to her husband while he was trying to explain to her something to do for their family.
She said during the programme she could reflect on her attitudes and agreed with the counsellors that one of them must listen carefully while the other was talking no matter what the situation was.
“These are some of the things I never realised and I have no time to go back to the classroom to learn. But we are lucky we have this programme to learn it,” she said.
Another woman said she also learnt to be positive whenever she did not really understand unusual behaviour of his husband. She had to prepare herself for the right time to talk it over with her husband.
One of the husbands at the programme agreed that the programme was interesting and helpful in their relationships with their wives.
“I sometimes felt very angry with my wife and did not want to talk to her for a day or two,” one man said.
“But what I learned from the programme was interesting because I could see maybe I was wrong in what I was thinking of my wife.
“Talking, listening and understanding each other and how they should be applied were some of the things we learnt a lot from this programme.”
The counselling programme, Tauhi Vā Lelei, was adapted to a Tongan context.
Counsellor Tēvita Kātoa said it was adapted to help provide professional assistance and guidance to resolve personal or psychological problems their Tongan clients encountered.
“It must focus on the relationship of the person seeking counselling and others to whom their problems were related,” Kātoa said.
He said the programme covered parents, youth and children who had been referred to them by the Ministry of Social Development.
It was opened to anyone who wanted to learn to share with them their experiences.
“Some of our clients were children who had been removed from their parents because they had been neglected,” Kātoa said.
Asked to give a number of Tongan clients they were working with, Kātoa said according to their record, young Tongans outnumbered Maori youth who ended up at the Ministry because of problems at home.
Kātoa said they designed the programme to make sure it covered what they thought would resolve most of the problems faced by many Tongan families in New Zealand.
“The main problem was that our parents and some of the children grew up in Tonga in an environment that was Tongan,” he said.
“When they relocated here into New Zealand it was a totally different environment.
“The New Zealand environment is based on western ideas. The laws and policies of this country were western.
“So there must be conflict if we Tongans are not careful enough to learn as quickly as we can to adapt and acculturate to the new environment.”
Kātoa said the Tongan practice which required children to listen and accept whatever parents wanted them to do without questioning, no matter whether they were right or wrong, had contributed to some of the problems faced by the Tongan youth who ended up in his office.
“When the children, especially the teenagers, were not given the opportunity at home to speak openly and share their opinions and what they thought of their parents’ attitudes towards them they mostly leave and find a place that will accept them,” Kātoa said.
He said the problem was that some children ended up using drugs and got involved in some criminal activities because they missed the good advice that only their parents were available to give them to avoid such difficulties.
Those who will be interested could contact the office at (09) 636 3449, Tēvita at 021 1681471 or Tina at 021 0334799.
The main points
- A counselling programme run by Tongan counsellors in Onehunga, New Zealand is life changing and has provided useful information, according to parents who attended some of the sessions.
- Some parents said they found out during the programme that they ran into problems at home because they ignored basic skills such as listening and positive thinking.
- Some of the women attending said they learnt it was important to listen to their husbands and asked for clarification if they did not understand what they wanted.
- One of the husbands at the programme agreed that the programme was interesting and helpful in their relationships with their wives.
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