Breaking the Circle of Family Violence

A Pasefika Proud-sponsored programme is providing support for men to help them break the circle of family violence. The 10-week Christchurch-based course is called Seuga, which means catching or snaring. In this case the name is used metaphorically to bring education to Pacific Island people who have concerns, or who face consequences due to behaviour stemming from family issues or substance misuse.

Run by Aviva, the framework of the course covers mental health, culture, family, law, physical health, and spirituality relating to Pacific people. It also offers support to the partners and children of those engaged in the programme. 

The aim of Seuga is to provide Pasifika men with the tools and education to change behaviours and stop using violence. It is hoped this will give their children the chance to grow up in homes free of violence and break an intergenerational cycle of violence. 

At the end of the course Aviva hopes to see improvement across a number of areas in the participants, including:

  • Rates of family harm 
  • Sense of fa’asinomaga (identity) as a person 
  • A sense of belonging by reconnecting with family and culture 
  • Breaking down barriers that may be preventing them from thriving in Aotearoa New Zealand society 

Aviva team leader Nicky Soafai said family violence is something people find hard to talk about, even in the community churches, so the programme is a way of giving support to those who may benefit from it. 

“it’s looking to help find the right way to live in New Zealand and (it gives) a healthy wellbeing for our Pacific people,” he said. 

Programme co-facilitator James Filoiali’i said one of the benefits is the opportunity to explain to the men why they feel the way they do and why they get mad. 

“So, they go away, they share this with their family and then they come back and talk about it and about how people have noticed the small changes in them,” he said. 

“They take that leap of faith, that step up, and the change stays with them.” 

Attendees of the course have willingly shared stories of the skills they have learned which supports evidence of change and therefore programme success. Among comments shared were: 

“Got much more than I expected. Aviva and Seuga have helped me control my anger, support my family and understand what this means for my wellbeing.” 

“The knowledge and wisdom shared have helped me understand my accountability to life and the importance of family.” 

“The Education on Alcohol opened my eyes to the impact of my drinking on myself and mostly on my family. I gave up alcohol ... (it has) brought my family back together.” 

“Society needs more programmes like this as there are so many of us out there that need it before it is too late.” 

But it is not just the participants who have benefitted from Seuga.  

Naoia is the wife of one of the men who has done the course. She said since her husband did the course, instead of getting upset about things, they can now acknowledge that there is a problem and work it out together. 

I didn’t want our kids to grow up thinking that when you get angry or frustrated, the way to deal with it is through hitting or threatening someone. I've seen a lot within families where children were being physically, mentally, and verbally abused. It frustrates me when I hear people yell at children and say words like, “E ke valea? E ke maga’o e fasi oe?” (“Are you stupid? Do you want a hiding?”) How is that showing love? How is this creating a safe space for our kids if they are being shouted at for making a mistake,” Naioa said. 

“This is where change needs to happen. If we don't learn and understand the consequences of our actions, it can lead to all sorts of places like mental health, suicide, courts and even prison. Sometimes people think there’s no way out, but there’s always hope. It just takes small changes. Never be afraid to break free from what was the normal way of doing things, out of respect for elders or culture. It's hard to change learned behaviour, but if we want to see change in the next generation, change starts with us.” 

Naioa said if she could give one piece of advice to people it would be this. 

“Do the course, it’s a great help for our people.” 


  • Call Aviva on (03) 378 3847 or 0800 AVIVA NOW (0800 28482 669) - 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for people in Canterbury
  • For information about Seuga, call Nicky on 027 514 4027
  • Email (this inbox is checked Monday-Friday, 9-5)
  • If you are a social service or other referring agency, please complete a referral form (use ReachOut referral for Seuga) and forward to Aviva by email

Pasefika Proud Principles - The following principles support and guide our work:

Community-led – supporting communities to identify their own needs, and design and lead their own solutions. Community leadership happens at all levels – including in homes, churches and sport and cultural settings. Pasefika Proud taps into and nurtures those community leaders, influencers and role models who are able to inspire and support positive change.

Strengths based – drawing on Pacific cultural values to strengthen communities, build resilience and keep Pacific peoples safe. Focusing on assets and dispelling the myth that family violence is part of our various Pacific cultures. This helps to open doors that would otherwise be closed to conversations about family violence.

‘Ethnic-specific for Pacific’ – working intentionally in an ethnic-specific way to support the development of community-owned, culturally appropriate solutions. Experience and evidence to date suggest that a ‘one size fits all’ approach is not as effective as one that derives from unique cultural frameworks and strengths.

Diversity / Inclusion – recognising that Pacific peoples in New Zealand are incredibly diverse in terms of culture, ethnicity, migration experience, age, gender, location and many other factors. Acknowledging and understanding our diversity helps us to be more inclusive.

Evidence based – building expertise and an evidence base on what supports positive change / transformation that prevents violence within Pacific families and communities.

Education / Skills focused – supporting knowledge and skills acquisition that builds confidence and capability within Pacific families, communities and services.

Sustainability – acknowledging the complexities and intergenerational impacts of family violence, and focusing on realistic solutions that help to embed and sustain social change at the community level.

For more information

Download Resource – Pasefika Proud Pathways for Change