The Fonofale model was created as a Pacific model of health, encompassing values and beliefs from the Cook Islands, Samoa, Tonga, Fiji, Niue, and Tokelau. Developed by Fuimaono Karl Pulotu-Endemann, the Fonofale model is a system of wellbeing that not only acknowledges, but embraces, Pacific perspectives and ways of being.
Not dissimilar to the Māori model of health, the Te Whare Tapa Whā approach, the Fonofale model also uses the image of a house, otherwise known as a ‘fale’, a traditional Samoan house, using the walls, foundation, and ceiling to represent the different constructs of health.
The foundation (family)
The floor, or the foundation of the fale, represents family. This doesn’t just refer to our immediate and extended family, but it also encompasses anyone we are bound to, either through marriage, kinship, or partnership. The history and genealogy is also in the foundation of the fale as it ties us to the land, islands, sea, cultures, and Gods of the Pacific.
The roof (culture)
The roof represents Pacific cultural values and beliefs, with the idea being that they shelter families for life. This means that we incorporate the cultures that we relate to in our everyday lives. This can include traditional Pacific culture and customs, but can also include palagi approaches, identities, and values.
The four pou (posts)
The four pillars support and connect the roof and foundation of the fale, with each post representing a different aspect of health: spiritual, physical, mental, and other.
Spiritual: This includes a variety of beliefs and values that stem from a spiritual belief system, either through religion, traditional spirituality, the connection to our land and ancestors, or the connection to our ancestors.
Physical: This dimension relates to our biological and physical wellbeing. By nourishing our body with nutritional food, getting enough sleep, drinking plenty of water, and moving our bodies, our physical health can have a positive impact on our overall wellbeing.
Mental: This refers to our mental and emotional wellbeing. By taking care of our mental and emotional health in a way that works for us, this will automatically flow into other areas of our lives.
Other: This aspect encompasses other areas of our health which can either directly or indirectly affect our wellbeing, such as sexuality/sexual orientation, gender, socioeconomic status, and age.
Finally, the entire fale is wrapped in a circle or cocoon, containing dimensions that have an impact on our health: environment, time, and context.
Environment: This is focused on our physical environment. Depending on where we live, this could be a rural or urban setting.
Time: This refers to the specific time in history that people are living in, and how this impacts Pacific people.
Context: This refers to the specific contexts in which a Pacific person lives, whether that be the political context, country of residence, socioeconomic context, or the legal or personal context that shapes them.