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close this section of the library Koya-Vaka'uta, Cresantia Frances


View the PDF document Tapa mo tatau : an exploration of Pacific conceptions of ESD through a study of Samoan and Tongan heritage arts
Author: Koya-Vaka'uta, Cresantia Frances
Institution: University of the South Pacific.
Award: Ph.D.
Subject: Tapa -- Social aspects -- Samoa, Tapa -- Social aspects -- Tonga, Tattooing -- Social aspects -- Samoa, Tattooing -- Social aspects -- Tonga
Date: 2013
Call No.: pac GN 432 .K692 2013
BRN: 1192440
Copyright:Under 10% of this thesis may be copied without the authors written permission

Abstract: The quality of education in the Pacific islands has been a longstanding concern. Since the endorsement of the Pacific Education for Sustainable Development framework (PESDF) in 2006, its Action Plan in 2008 and the Pacific Education and Development Framework also in 2008;the discussion has shifted to quality Education for Sustainable Pacific Societies. Despite the seven-year conversation, little discourse, research and writing on ESD has emerged. Similarly, little has been done to understand what sustainability means to Pacific peoples. The purpose of this research is to examine the Pacific heritage arts of tapa and tattoo in Samoa and Tonga to elicit indigenous ideas about sustainability, education and resilience – three concepts that are central to the discussion of sustainability in education. The research applied bricolage methodologically and theoretically, bringing together Western and Indigenous theories of research and education within the broader line of inquiry. This qualitative study used a phenomenological-ethnographical framework to explore the views of heritage art practitioners, teachers, teacher educators, teacher trainees and members of the wider cultural community on the cultural memory and practice of the two select heritage art forms. A mixed-methods approach brought together a variety of data gathering instruments from mainstream academia and indigenous research approaches including document/policy analysis, Talanoa, Tālanga, visual ethnographies and field notes. Major findings of this research were that tapa and tattoo are important epistemological sites where knowing and learning occurs through the reinforcement of beliefs about identity (being) and community membership (belonging). The decline in Siapo production and use in Samoa has resulted in some cultural memory loss although participants still believe it to be an important cultural aspect. In Tonga, while Ngatu is still widely produced, there are major changes to the production process. Participants at both cultural sites believe that tapa is a means by which women demonstrate their contribution to the cultural community by the production and presentation of this item of traditional wealth. It is also seen as a means by which to nurture relational spaces and to maintain and sustain relationships. Traditional Tattoo practice thrives in Samoa as an important identity marker and indicator of male cultural commitment to service and of the sacred, protected status of women. In Tonga, the 1839 Vavau code banned the practice of traditional tattooing. Consequently, many participants were of the view that tattooing was never a part of Tongan culture. Over the last ten years however, a tattoo renaissance has taken place on the island kingdom. Participants suggest the incorporation of traditional ngatu kupesi designs in tattoos means that tattoo may be an important symbol of identity for young Tongans today. Both tapa and tattoo are seen as significant cultural markers denoting active human agency; reaffirming, negotiating and repositioning of self within multiple relationships in the wider cultural community. Results indicate that as important epistemological sites, they contain cultural indigenous knowledge about iii life philosophies, history, spirituality, status, genealogies, and relationships. As such these sites are reference points for the teaching, learning and reinforcing of indigenous epistemologies. The study shows that sustainability was/is a way of life in the Samoan/Tongan culture guided by the lifephilosophy of Vā; relational space with self, within community, environment and the cosmos. Related processes of nurturing, maintaining and reaffirming relationships emerged as the active means by which this life-philosophy is enacted. These are emphasized by a number of guiding values and principles embedded within the broader philosophy of Vā. Participants believe sustainability is about well-being – individual and community– and is premised on ten basic principles. These are cultural continuity, resilience, spirituality, agency, commitment and participation, life-long learning/education, indigenous pedagogies, decolonization of IKS and IE, self-determination and knowledge of socio-cultural/historical histories. Developing on these, a new concept of resilience literacies is introduced as a set of attributes and competencies that enable an individual/community’s well-being. Additionally, a socio-cultural theory of learning, Tuli, is presented as a pedagogical tool developed on the four main components of knowing, learning, being and belonging. It is informed by the tā-vā time-space theory of reality and Delor’s pillars of learning. Conceptually the theory is presented as a visual map fashioned on a shared design element of Siapo and Ngatu. The symbolism of the Tuli is drawn from Samoan and Tongan cosmology featuring the golden plover which is responsible for the creation of humans from grubs. This symbolism is found in tapa designs fa’avaetuli (Siapo Samoa) and ve’etuli(Ngatu Tonga). In the case of the latter, the use of Tuli rather than the kiu (Tongan for Plover) strengthens the argument of shared cultural knowledge and practice of these art forms. The dissertation further reconceptualizes tā-vā, as fanua/founa- tā-vā as a triadic, holistic Samoan/Tongan ontological understanding of reality. This new place-time-space theory contextualizes sociocultural/ historical experiences positing that time (tā) situates, place (fonua/fanua) contextualizes and space (vā) positions/relates. As a pedagogical framework, Tuli, has curriculum and pedagogical implications for the Pacific classroom. It argues that decolonization of education must take into account time-specific realties of globalization in the Pacific today and presents the view that synergies may be found between mainstream paradigms of thinking about education, sustainability and ESD and PIKS/IE. It is these synergies that may enable self-determination and resilience required for conscientization and critical mass to bring about political will for relevant locally-driven educational efforts towards sustainability for the future in the islands.
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