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COMPASS: Whānau Pasifika navigating schooling in Aotearoa New Zealand

Renee Tuifagalele, Jean M. Uasike Allen, Rāhera Meinders, and Melinda Webber

This report focuses on the perspectives of whānau Pasifika as they express their attitudes and beliefs about what success looks like for their tamariki and why success is important. It employs the Indigenous practice of wayfinding to frame discussions of success through a range of values whānau Pasifika hold, and supportive characteristics they enact that steer their tamariki towards achieving their educational aspirations.  

Our research question for this study was: What are the Pasifika values that guide whānau as they navigate educational spaces and how are these anchored in Pasifika measures of success?  

We identified a range of key Pacific values and characteristics that shape notions of success for Pasifika learners, according to whānau Pasifika. We define whānau characteristics as the way that whānau enact their values. 

Taken together, the study identified critical factors that serve as important navigational tools for whānau Pasifika to support the educational journeys of their tamariki:  

  • Whānau Pasifika must be understood and engaged as wayfinders, paramount to tamariki navigating successfully in educational contexts.  
  • The navigation of choppy educational seas is alleviated by whānau maintenance of reciprocal relationships and positive connections to communities.  
  • Respect and support for tamariki Pasifika is necessarily relational, maintaining a harmony where whānau walk alongside their tamariki, co-navigating adversity, keeping their eyes on the horizon, and steering them towards success.  
  • Whānau Pasifika are “edgewalkers”—helping their tamariki to adapt to being a part of the diaspora and achieving success by storying the powerful links between enacting culture and being curriculum focused for achievement.  

This report forms part of our wider COMPASS project, a partnership between Rangahau Mātauranga o Aotearoa and the University of Auckland’s Professor Melinda Webber.  

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Research report
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