Learning From Each Other: Enhancing Pacific Education through People, Concept and Culture-focused Inquiry

Funding year: 
3 years
Victoria University of Wellington
School sector
Project start date: 
February 2021
Project end date: 
March 2024
Principal investigator(s): 
Dr. Cherie Chu-Fuluifaga and Dr Martyn Reynolds
Research team members: 
Dr Cherie Chu-Fuluifaga and Dr Martyn Reynolds
Research partners: 
Marc van der Poest Clement (Naenae College), Sinapi Taeo (Naenae College), Alofa Lale (Mercy Hospital, Dunedin), Debbie Waldron (St Bernadettes School Dunedin)

Intro / Project description

The initiative works in the relational spaces (vā) between Pacific students, parents and communities, and non-Pacific educational leaders and teachers. We assume that Pacific people(s) are experts in the own lives and cultures, and hold information that would be of benefit to teachers of their young people. We also assume that teachers are experts in the classroom and have good intentions towards their Pacific students. The initiative is structured to take key information from Pacific communities to groups of teachers and invite them to change by translating their learning into enhanced educational practices of benefit to all.


The aim is to provide groups of teachers with Pacific voice-based learning, Pacific conceptual learning, safe discussion space, opportunities to develop and trial new practice, and the chance to observe, and be observed by, other teacher participants. By collecting data about Pacific communities’ education-based ideas and experiences, teachers’ learning processes and practice examples we aim to provide detailed contextualised descriptions of effective practice in Pacific education. These have potential to support others in pathways towards providing effective PLD in Pacific education and effective teaching informed by perspectives of Pacific origin. In this way, practitioners, researchers and policy-makers who contribute to Pacific education as a field will be facilitated to enhance the various forms of success valued by Pacific people in education.

Why is this research important? 

The research is important because Pacific education needs positive development despite considerable attention. The relational focus of the research promotes alignment between the understandings of communities and practitioners, honouring each by recognising their expertise and contribution. This is a ‘no blame’ strengths-based approach that fosters attention to the significance of transformation at individual and local levels as a catalyst for wider learning.

What we plan to do 

We plan to participate in at least one fono in each location with Pacific parents and communities, organised by local cultural brokers. These will provide information about educational priorities, experience, ideas, concepts and so on of value to teachers of Pacific learners in each Kāhui Ako. We will then structure a series of PLD sessions for small groups of teachers around the fono information. We will use conceptualisation of Pacific origin to support non-Pacific teachers to ‘hear’ the Pacific voice in ways that approach Pacific understandings. The PLD sequence provides teachers with reflective opportunities to develop, trial and evaluate new aspects of professional practice. Peer observation and discussion is a key aspect of this. 


Data will comprise information from talanoa with Pacific parents and communities; practitioner reflections on their learning during (and potentially between) PLD sessions, practitioner accounts of enhanced understandings and practice including student outputs; peer observations and discussion.


Analysis will harness the potential of Informed Grounded Theory (Thornberg, 2012) to focus thematic descriptions that take account of Pacific education through concepts of Pacific origin. The relationships between data sets allow us to track the way that the relational structure of the initiative enables practitioner learning that is capable of being translated into action. Analysis of relational ethics and methodological framing can provide insight into how all those involved care for the various vā in play.

Contact details

Dr Cherie Chu-Fuluifaga

Victoria University of Wellington

+64 4 463 5316