Counselling for Pasifika by Pasifika
For Rev Saane Langi, Chief Executive of Langima’a Oceania Counselling Service and a Pasefika Proud supporter, their Pacific-focused service in South Auckland was born from a "healed brokenness" that now seeks to help others. Langima’a is the only Pacific counselling service offering faith and culture-based marriage and pre-marital counselling as well as anger management and family violence counselling among other services to Pasifika people, by Pasifika people.
Born and raised in Tonga, the co-founder of Langima’a Rev. Saane, says growing up was a struggle following the death of her father, who was her family’s sole breadwinner.
She was just three years old, with two older brothers, when her mother had to find a job as a cleaner, which she did for three dollars a day.
“Mum was not well educated,” says Rev Saane.
“She was a housewife. As a cleaner she got $3 a day to feed us, to pay the bills, for donations to church and to raise the three of us.”
Her two older brothers were looked after by her father’s family and were taken to American Samoa for schooling. When it was just Rev Saane, her mother and grandfather together, there was a lot of struggle and grief.
Through sheer perseverance, she eventually completed her schooling in Tonga when, after working for the control tower at the airport for four years, she felt the call to ministry.
“I felt the Lord was calling me here to New Zealand to study theology at the Bible College of New Zealand, now called Laidlaw College,” recalls Rev Saane, who was aged 24 at the time.
She left home, came to New Zealand, stayed in a hostel in West Auckland and began her first undergraduate degree in theology.
Without a scholarship or any aid, Rev Saane graduated with a Bachelor of Ministry in three years. In December 2004 she married a fellow student she met at Laidlaw College.
The Reverend worked as a youth Pastor, then a team leader for Pacific Health at Starship Hospital for four years, before resigning and going back into study.
“I did a diploma of Practical Theology Diploma at Trinity College, the Methodist Church Theological College, then went into the Ministry and became ordained in 2014 as a Methodist Presbyter,” she recalls.
Rev Saane was stationed at the Epsom and Mt Eden Methodist churches for six years before, once again, returning to study, undertaking a Graduate Diploma in Psychotherapy- specialising in children and adolescents at AUT University.
At the time Rev Saane and her husband began the Langima’a Oceania Counselling Services as a way to provide for others what she and her husband sorely needed in their earlier years of marriage.
With both having graduated from Bible College, Rev Saane says that on the outside looking in, people perceived them as the perfect Christian couple.
That was far from reality.
“We were preaching and doing the best that we could to survive, yet the reality of our lives was that it was a real struggle,” she recalls.
Rev Saane revealed the depth of hurt she and her husband harboured, having both been sexually abused when they were younger. They revealed how counselling helped them through it, both individually and eventually as a couple.
“I don’t know how else to say it, but I was sexually abused. I escaped from that abuse, but felt so broken,” she recalls, saying she spent years studying and had graduated from Bible College thinking it would help.
“Of course, I read the bible and had become a minister, but there was still something deeper that I longed for, a unique skill … I wanted to know how to rewire and restore my inner-self, but had no idea how to do that.”
Being new to the country, counselling was a foreign concept to Rev Saane.
“I never knew of counselling in Tonga … I came here and heard about it, but still did not understand whether I needed counselling,” she recalls.
“So, when I married my husband, who was also sexually abused … then you put us together, it was a recipe for family violence. We were so broken and I felt there was no help that we could reach out to.
"The violence was an external manifestation of brokenness and chaos that was happening within us.”
The counselling Rev Saane needed came from a psychotherapist.
“When I went through my own healing, my husband went back and did his Bachelor of Counselling at Laidlaw College while, at the same time, receiving counselling.
“Both of us were seeking help because we came to a point in our lives … we said that we loved each other, we’ve got kids and don’t want to be torn apart, but what shall we do?”
Having both got the help they needed, the couple noticed the gap in services during the process.
Going through counselling enabled them to heal and, in Rev Saane’s words, live a life that’s ‘above the line’ with happiness, looking forward to each new day with their loved ones.
They also found that a service offering culturally relevant help from trained counsellors who have been on similar journeys and have come out the other side, would not have gone amiss.
“That’s what me and my husband longed for, so we put together the service, Langima’a Oceania Counselling Services, to help others who need it.”
There are seven counsellors; two Samoans, one Fijian, and four Tongans providing the counselling for Langima’a. The counsellors are also constantly supported with their own needs, with the organisation now in operation for two years.
“My husband and I know there are people like us who might be church ministers and CEOs in different organisations, who are still suffering to this day with family violence,” she says.
“But they keep it under the radar because of their reputation and employment.
“That’s why I feel it’s a privilege for me to speak up and to offer help with our services.”
Rev Saane has heard many sad stories, including that of a 25-year-old who revealed she was molested when just four years old and how it impacted her throughout her life.
“She was a product of a broken, blended family. Her healing began through us, with a reconciliation with her inner self, and then her family,” says Rev Saane.
“Through our counselling sessions, her confidence was restored and as she healed she was able to live above the line.”
Now graduated with a university degree and planning to undertake further postgraduate studies, she is very influential amongst her family, friends and community.
Hers is but one life restored and healing with the help of Langima’a, among many others.
If you would like to learn more about Langima’a Oceania Counselling Services go to their website or Facebook page below.
If you have experienced family violence or would like to talk to someone about how to keep you or your family safe, please call 0800 456 450 (It’s Not OK helpline). If it is an emergency call 111.