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The Learning Conference 2003

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Presentation Details


TALANOA: Opportunity for Cultural Learning and Research for Pacific and Indigenous Peoples in New Zealand.: Can Invalid Research Methodology Produce Valid Findings?

Timote M Vaioleti.

At the beginning of New Zealand’s Western contact, Commerce, Christianity, and Colonial power were some of the most powerful forces at work. Cross-cutting all these forces was the ‘obsession with control’.

Inherent in this attitude were the colonial truths of nationalistic superiority and the ethnocentric divine right to rule encouraged by their evolving notions of social Darwinism (with its associated racism). Out of the same source was the justice and rightness of western political and social systems to which dominant institutions now derive their underpinnings for judging what is valid for all (including knowledge), is established (Ritchie, 2002). Knowledge creation and its associated processes are no exception to this totalising force; even knowledge creation for, about and by people from other cultures and value systems (Thaman 1995, 1998, 2001).

In New Zealand, there is a major concern for the Pacific peoples, who are the fastest growing group in the country. Although they are among the most researched (with the aim to improve their situations), the spiralling effect of unemployment, poor health, poor housing, educational failure and poverty continue.

This paper argues that traditional research methodologies based on middleclass positivistic paradigm are ill-equipped to harness knowledge which are differently based and lived, fluid and have their own constructed social realities. To miss the cultural imperatives of a knowledge because the research approaches were too clumsy, rigid or culturally inadequate will render findings invalid, as well as continuing with the rejection of the Pacific peoples’ sense of self, respect and their knowledge’s rightful place in the New Zealand national thinking.

This paper then will argue that the emancipatory, cultural and authentic qualities of TALANOA and TUI KAKALA (‘an orally based encounter and weaving methodology’), where people story their past, their issues, their realities and aspirations (Bishop, 1996; Bishop and Glynn, 1999), then theorise in their own contexts in order to produce a more ‘mo’oni’ (purer, real, authentic) is a far more valid methodology for creating Pacific knowledge and solutions for their issues.


Timote M Vaioleti  (New Zealand)
Senior Lecturer
Professional studies in Education
University of Waikato

Timote was born in Tonga. A former primary and secondary teacher, education and management consultant. Founder of several community organizations and holder many community and voluntary offices. He has strong interest in empowerment of Pacific peoples through formal and adult education, capacity building for self-sustainability and social justice. He works with Pacific peoples both in New Zealand and in their home nations. A councillor for various New Zealand Ministers of Pacific Island Affairs. Timote is a Senior Lecturer in Professional Studies in Education.

  • Polynesian learning approaches
  • Cultural knowledge
  • Cultural pedagogies
  • Cultural continuity
  • Alternative cognitive development
  • AKO (reciprocating learning and teaching)
  • Collaborative learning
  • Ethnocentric
  • Neo-liberalism
  • Hegemony
  • Polynesian Ethics of care

(30 min Conference Paper, English)