Pasifika Values

Before we get started – please watch the video recorded through a MANA Pasifika project that outlines Pasifika dynamics, values, expectations and more from an intergenerational perspective. It was an absolute privilege to be invited into the Tu’uga/Tafa house, and hear their views, insights and stories.

As mentioned earlier, Pasifika communities are very unique and diverse. They have different languages, protocols, customs and traditions. 

Despite these differences, they also hold some similarities that can be useful in enhancing our understanding of Pasifika peoples, and how to engage effectively.

A key similarity, as highlighted in the models we’ve just covered in the previous two sections, is Pasifika values. 

Values are stable, long-lasting beliefs about what is important to a person. They guide how people make decisions and how they behave. 

Certain values and other fundamental principles are evident across most, if not all, Pasifika cultures. In 2006, the Ministry of Pacific Island Affairs (now the Ministry for Pasifika Peoples) in New Zealand identified the following values as common across Pasifika cultures: 

Family values: as the opening quote of this section espouses, a Pasifika person is inextricably linked to their family, and their family to them. Family names often signify Pasifika peoples’ lineages, village roots, and cultural story.

Collectivism: community-focus and the importance of consensus. Living in villages with extended family naturally gave rise to this deeply embedded value – collaboration, consultation and also set roles/responsibilities are tenets that have helped collectivism to succeed and survive in the islands.

Reciprocity: related to collectivism, is the value of relationship and importance of mutualism. Duty of care between people and families for a shared vision has been a long-standing and critical principle for Pasifika peoples to thrive in the islands. Essentially, mutuality > independence.

Respect: respect is expected of Pasifika peoples – particularly towards elders, parents and people in authority. This includes keeping face, acknowledging someone’s status and observing proper etiquette and protocols.

Spirituality: spirituality, religion and belief in a higher power has been ingrained in Pasifika ways of life since time immemorial – indigenous spirituality and religions, creation myths, legends, proverbs and metaphors have all been passed down intergenerationally – a reason why many believe Christian missionaries were so successful in spreading the Gospel through the Pacific, because of the spiritual practices already existing upon contact.

To illustrate the uniqueness that each culture has, following is a list of Tongan-, Maori- and Samoan-specific values that have been identified and published:

Some Tongan values:

  • Fefaka’apa’apa’aki (mutual respect)
  • Feveitokai’aki (sharing, cooperating, fulfilment of mutual obligations)
  • Lototoo (humility & generosity)
  • Tauhi vaha’a (loyalty & commitment)

Some Maori values:

  • Kotahitanga (unity)
  • Ako (teaching and learning)
  • Manaakitanga (empathy/hospitality)
  • Whakamana (respect)
  • Whakanui (acknowledging success),
  • Whakawhanaungatanga (building strong networks)
  • Rangatiratanga (self-direction).

Some Samoan values:

  • Ava (respect)
  • Fa’aaloalo (reverence)
  • Alofa (love, compassion, concern)
  • Fa’amagalo (forgiveness)
  • Fa’alavelave (to solve a problem)
  • Lotonu’u (maintaining/restoring pride)
  • Tapu (sacred bonds)
  • Tautua (service)

The values outlined above are some of the principles that drive Pasifika beliefs, attitudes and behaviours.

This information is important to understand Pasifika worldview, and how they are constructed. In turn, understanding this can provide an insight into how your strategies and methods of engaging Pasifika peoples should be designed.

To cap this section off watch this video about how Vanuatu is considered to be a “developing” country yet ranked first on the “Happy Planet Index” – and why they are so happy.

 Vanuatu – Another Kind Of Wealth

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