Chief Esau inspires theme of World Conference on Planetary Health

Sunday, May 19, 2019

‘The health of people relies on the health of the planet’ was the key message at the 23rd World Conference on Health Promotion in Rotorua, Aotearoa New Zealand in April 2019.

Atoifi Health Research Group members Chief Esau Fo`ofafimae Kekuabata, Associate Professor David MacLaren and Dr Michelle Redman-MacLaren attended the four day event and were a part of the 1600 people who endorsed the commitment to the waiuro: healthy land healthy people Statement.

The theme of this 2019 World Conference was influenced by Chief Kekeubata. Chief Kekeubata gave a keynote address at the 2007 World Health Promotion Conference in Canada, where he described how land (wado) is fundamental to physical, social and spiritual health. Mr Sione Tu'itahi, Co-Chair of the 2019 Organising Committee of the IUHPE conference was present at this 2007 presentation, and was impressed. Mr Tu'itahi and colleagues then took this as their theme and emphasised the importance of land, social connectedness and traditional knowledge for health of people and the planet in the Aotearoa New Zealand Conference. Known as planetary health, this approach reflects traditional Pacific understandings of holistic health and well-being.

Maori leaders from Aotearoa New Zealand, along with Pacific leaders and indigenous delegates from across the globe shared how land, social connectedness and traditional knowledge is fundamental to human health in the context of their natural environments.

Members of the Atoifi Health Research Group are involved in a range of community, conservation and human health projects in East Malaita. Research Reports, articles, videos and booklets can be found at:

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Photo (courtesy Michelle Redman-MacLaren): Chief Esau Fo`ofafimae Kekuabata and Associate Professor David MacLaren in Rotorua