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Dismantling the mā of menstruation

Getting your period is not a sickness or an embarrassment according to Tongan broadcaster Lusia Petelo. 

14 April 2022, 8:16pm
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Getting your period is not a sickness or an embarrassment according to Tongan broadcaster Lusia Petelo. 

The co-host of new afternoon show ‘The Rush’ on radio station Niu FM pitched the idea of a menstrual and menopause policy to her CEO last year to help break down barriers among staff.

“In this current pandemic we can all see how valuable sick leave is. It’s more than just leave, it’s normalizing that menstrual and menopause are not a ‘sickness’- it is a natural part of life,” Lusia says.

“For generations, women everywhere have been conditioned to hide their period and menopause in the workplace. We want to change the script so staff aren’t penalised for using their sick leave."

Pacific Media Network Chief Executive Don Mann initially declined the policy suggestion, but after some thought welcomed Lusia’s persistence.

“When she challenged me about our Pacific values as an organisation, I didn’t have a comeback,” he says.

“But then I thought, why not us? Why couldn’t we enable change in an area often unspoken among Pacific cultures? We want to dismantle the whakamā and let employees decide what’s best for their work environment, their vā as staff and their total wellbeing.”

Don then contacted Australian company ModiBodi and the University of Sydney who have existing menstrual policies in place for their advice.

He also researched the works of Pacific and Māori thought leaders Dr Ngāhuia Murphy and Dr Lana Lopesi to help shape this thinking for a more inclusive work place.

The menstrual and menopause was approved and then introduced in February 2022.

“To hear that PMN is one of the first businesses in New Zealand to introduce this policy makes me so happy,” Lusia says.

“Our Pacific women are an asset to our families and communities and I truly believe this leave reflects the value of women in our workplace. I hope it will have a positive impact on our listeners and other Pacific organisations too.

“I may not be a Kate Sheppard but I am Lusia Petelo and proud of this outcome.”


About Pacific Media Network

Pacific Media Network (PMN) is the premier provider of quality Pacific content in New Zealand. Through our multi-media platforms which include radio stations 531pi and Niu FM, we inclusively open access to Pacific News, Entertainment and Lifestyle stories, keeping it 100% Pacific! Pacific Media Network aims to deliver key outcomes with Pacific peoples contributing to New Zealand society in a positive way, achieving their full potential and the preservation of Pacific Island culture and language.

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