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Leali'ie'e Dr Tufulasi Taleni.

Photo/University of Canterbury


An award-winning researcher says Pacific communities in Aotearoa need to go beyond talanoa

Leali'ile'e Dr Tufulasi Taleni's latest thesis looks at Matai protocol of conversation as a means to uplift Pacific education in Aotearoa.

Vaimaila Leatinu'u
Aui'a Vaimaila Leatinu'u
15 November 2023, 12:54pm
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An double award-winning Pacific senior lecturer at the University of Canterbury says talanoa can fail to solve pressing issues in the community.

Leali'ie'e Dr Tufulasi Taleni's thesis O le Fa’atamasoali’iga a Tautai Matapalapala – A Soul-Searching and Far-Reaching Voyage of the Tautai (master navigator) – How and why effective educational leadership can advance Pasifika students' learning, health and wellbeing, developed the Soalaupulega Sāmoa framework.

"Soalaupulega is a deep form of collaboration carried out by Matai (chiefs) who come together to seek solutions to solve threatening issues impacting the lives of the community," Leali'ie'e says.

He says another form of methodology that is popular in Aotearoa is talanoa, which he says is not enough.

"Talanoa is too loose, for me there's no agenda and is an unstructured form of conversation."

"The chiefs coming to the fono talk about issues that threaten the wellbeing of the community have the Soalaupulega - no muck around."

Leali'ie'e says that poverty, high rates of unemployment and poor health are contributors to poor education and hence why Soalaupulega came as a response.

He says the framework calls for leaders within education, health and the community to lead action in addressing issues impacting children, families, and the communities.

Leali’ie’e also won the Pasifika Community Researcher Award at the Community Research Te Auaha Pito Mata 2023 for his research.

"It's a long time coming really for our people to lift engagement and achievement of our students in schools," Leali'ie'e says.

"So health and education are big areas of research."

The second award was the Pacific Circle Consortium’s Peter Brice Award, which Leali'ie'e appreciated greatly for it's acknowledge of his work spanning 30 years.

"It really summed up everything. I'm very proud of my own commitment to Pasifika education," he says.

Leali'ile'e says one of his initiatives that garnered their interest was a project between 2003 and 2019, which took University staff and students to his village to experience Samoan culture and values.

"That's one of the many great things that I've been lucky enough to do and that contributed a lot to the achievement of our Pasifika students.

“I am a strong advocate for our own Pacific people to utilise our Pacific epistemologies, research methodology and pedagogical practices to contextualise our own cultural values and principles.”

Watch the full interview from 531's Facebook page below:

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