Sister Cabrini in good spirits as a new book is launched

Sister Cabrini ‘Ofa Makasiale’s three decades of work in trauma counselling in and around South Auckland has been captured in print. A Catholic sister for more than 50 years, Sister Cabrini was raised in Fiji, and is of English and Tongan ancestry. 

Caption: Sister Cabrini (left) Manu Bennet, Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu Project Administrator

Over that time, she has been a teacher, psychotherapist, clinical supervisor, counsellor, developed a highly successful ‘Stopping Family Violence’ programme, and completed her Masters in Spirituality.  

Sister Cabrini also delivers the practitioners ‘wellbeing’ session for the Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu programme. The session provides a space for practitioners to reflect on wellbeing, their practice, self-care and takes a holistic approach recognising the interconnectedness of the spiritual, physical, emotional, and mental wellbeing of Pacific peoples. This provides the grounding needed to be taken through the Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu cultural frameworks critical for frontline practitioners when dealing with Pacific families. 

The book – Claiming the Space for Spirituality - Pasifika health and wellbeing – was written in response to her work with Pasifika peoples who attended the ‘Pacific Living without Violence’ programme.

In the book, she talks of how faith and spirituality are core to Pasifika healing. 

Sister Cabrini says many Pasifika peoples have suffered the effects of cultural misunderstanding and intolerance, often, unfortunately, from mainstream health professionals. Other challenges include poverty and the breakdown of family structures. 

‘'Issues are compounded when Pasifika seeks assistance for mental health issues that the mainstream fails to understand, and which excludes them from the treatment process,” Sister Cabrini says. 

She says spirituality has been neglected or excluded because the mainstream fails to see the relevance of it, but the time is right for Pasifika and the mainstream to share the spirituality tool as the World Health Organization has given spirituality its approval.  

‘‘We can have no better endorsement,’ she says. 

This is Cabrini’s third book. She has also co-authored Penina Uliuli – Contemporary Challenges in Mental Health for Pacific Peoples and Pacific Identities and Well-being: Cross Cultural Perspectives. 

The book, Claiming the Space for Spirituality – Pasifika health and wellbeing was launched in June 2023 Saturday at The Cause Collective in Auckland. If you wish to purchase this book email  

Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu is a Pacific community developed, owned and mandated conceptual framework underpinning Pasefika Proud, encompassing eight ethnic-specific cultural frameworks. Pacific cultures and values are community strengths that support family wellbeing and protect against harm. 

The Nga Vaka Conceptual Frameworks inform eight ethnic specific programmes. The programmes provide participants with an in-depth insight into cultural approaches to achieving family wellbeing, especially when dealing with family violence. 

This cultural training has been developed to target qualified Pacific practitioners such as social workers, counsellors (etc), and non-pacific people, either working specifically with Pacific families in the area of family violence or who are working with Pacific families and deal with family violence incidences or support as part of their wider work. 

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