Pasifika education research

The primary focus of this theme is the education, development and/or well-being of peoples of Pacific heritage.

primary students

Pacific or Pasifika1 research (in education, social work and counselling) involves any or all of the following2:

  • The use of Pacific research methodologies and methods
  • A primary focus on the education, development and /or well-being of Pacific-heritage peoples (either located within Aotearoa New Zealand or a Pacific island country)
  • The intention to positively impact on Pasifika communities through both the research process and its outcomes

Such research draws on paradigms and methodologies anchored within indigenous Pacific cultures, languages and communities. These ‘speak’ across time and space, to provoke deep theorizing and ethical research practice. Regardless of scale, such research privileges the experiences of Pacific peoples.

Three entities underpin and support the development of Pacific /Pasifika research within the Faculty of Education and Social Work:

  • Kainga Pasifika (a faculty committee)
  • Pasifika Success (student academic support service)
  • Pasifika academic staff

1 The term ‘Pasifika’ is commonly used in education research focusing on Pacific-heritage peoples while research in the health sector often uses ‘Pacific’. Both terms are used inter-changeably in this description.
2 Tertiary Education Commission (2016). ‘Pacific Research’, in PBRF: Panel Specific Guidelines for the 2018 Quality Evaluation, pp 85-93. Wellington: TEC

The following examples showcase and celebrate just a few of the distinctive yet interwoven research contributions of Pacific/ Pasifika research to the faculty’s central research theme, ‘To harness the potential of superdiversity in education and social justice issues’.

Tim Baice: Building research capacity in the postgraduate space

Tim Baice
Tim Baice, originally from Samoa, leads and coordinates Pasifika Success's Pasifika postgraduate programme.

As Academic Coordinator, Tim organises 'mix-and-mingles', academic writing retreats, seminars, workshops and discussion groups each year. Skills are developed, knowledge is gained, connections are made, ideas are sparked. Student self-efficacy as emerging Pacific researchers is seeded, nurtured and grown.

The primary aim of the Pasifika Success Pasifika Postgraduate Programme is to help inspire others to pursue their areas of interest in research because, in Tim's words, “We are all here to support one another”.

Tim is also the administrator of two long-established social media sites:

Pacific Scholars promotes scholarships, funding opportunities, conferences and events by various tertiary education providers, Pacific academics (highlighting the significant contribution they make to their respective fields) and Pacific research.

This page profiles all pieces of Pacific research the administrators come across in a bid to assist those with assignments on various topics.

Featured researchers

Dr Tanya Lee-Anne Maleina Samu

Tanya's current theoretical explorations aim to develop new insights about  

  • Pasifika peoples in relation to the knowledge economy discourse that underlies national education policy
  • Current knowledge and understandings about the inter-face between teachers and their Pasifika learners
  • Pacific/Pasifika women and culture crossings experienced via education
  • Pasifika communities of practice within the academe
  • The notion of ‘Pasifika education’ and the concept of ‘oceanic agency’

Dr 'Ema Atiliva Wolfgramm-Foliaki

  • 'Ema's PhD thesis at the University of Auckland examined the literacy practices of book reading, early writing and story telling in a group of Tongan preschool children and their families in Auckland across three sites (a Tongan language nest, their homes and Sunday school) employing a number of methodologies including Pasifika methodologies.
  • Her current research focuses on "Widening participation: First in the family students succeeding at university", which examines the success factors of students who are first in their familiy to study at university.  

Examples of postgraduate research within this theme