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Taumafa Kava: An Alternative Tongan Research Methodology

Wednesday 3 July: Conference day one, 2:30pm – 3:00pm parallel session



Room 7 – 301-G053 Med Chem



Lisita Finau Paongo
University of Auckland, New Zealand



Indigenous research frameworks are often developed not only to appropriately encapsulate the indigenous realities in their authentic form, but also to validate the indigenous knowledge system in the research space. Therefore, in this presentation I share the development of what I am calling the Taumafa Kava Research Framework. As a Tongan researcher, I understand the importance of culture and traditional practices in informing people’s way of life.  Thus, the Taumafa Kava framework draws on traditional Tongan meanings, metaphors and rituals. Indigenous Tongan research by people such as Thaman advocates for the inclusion of indigenous values and metaphors as teaching and learning tools, especially when working with Pacific students. Therefore, the framework does not only provide me with a powerful cultural tool of analysis, but it also connects my work with multiple other indigenous studies which privilege indigenous knowledge. Taumafa Kava is presented to encourage indigenous researchers to value their unique cultural worldviews and perspectives in the research space.

Thus, this presentation is specifically to showcase how the Taumafa Kava ceremony can be theorized to frame my research. My work supports the assertion of the inclusion of Tongan values as beneficial for the teaching and learning of Tongan students in New Zealand. Identifying what these values are and how they have helped with students’ learning is the main focus. The framework is a metaphor to symbolize responsibilities and accountabilities. In the Kava ceremony, everybody who sits in the circle, including the king and nobles, are reminded of their responsibilities to the fonua (people and land). The Ministry of Education and educational authorities can be in the same way, reminded by this research of their responsibilities to the Tongan students, who are citizens and residents of the whenua of Aotearoa.



Fa’avae, D. (2016). Tatala ‘ae Koloa ‘oe To’utangata Tonga i Aotearoa mo Tonga: The intergenerational educational experiences of Tongan males in New Zealand and Tonga (Doctoral dissertation, ResearchSpace@ Auckland).
Fua, S.J. (2007), “Looking towards the source – social justice and leadership conceptualisations from Tonga.” Journal of Educational Administration, 45(6), 672-83.
Thaman, K. H. (2005). Whose values and what responsibility? Cultural and Cognitive Democracy in Education. Pacific-Asian Education Journal17(1), 8 – 19.


Presentation topic

Students – Places and Spaces

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