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View the PDF document The iTaukei mata system of knowing : vura and tu to source and support a sustainable bula sautu in a vanua vakaturaga [an epistemological journey through Tubou-Lakeba metaphorical experiences]
Author: Tabilai, Wame Jackson Peni
Institution: University of the South Pacific.
Award: M.A.
Subject: Social epistemology -- Fiji, Knowledge, Theory of -- Fiji
Date: 2014
Call No.: Pac BD 175 .T33 2014
BRN: 1200245
Copyright:20-40% of this thesis may be copied without the authors written permission

Abstract: The iTaukei of Viti, formerly known as Fijians, have a mata or envoy system of engaging at the intra- and inter-Vanua levels that works to keep vanua-people connected as a Vanua (of a named/claimed place) whole. Theoretically, the ancient Vanua developed into Vanua vakaTuraga (lit. ‘Land/Place having Chiefs/Men’), centuries later, possibly, at the arrival of a Turaga migration that was readily ‘grafted’ into the ‘first taukei’ (first peoples to be ‘yoked-with’ the land/place) of Viti society. Essentially, the Turaga people (as active ‘explorers’ of the oceanic space, at the time) were ‘given’ land by the Vanua people who, by then, had become so land-based that ‘conquerors of the deep’ were soon recognized as vu-gods who vu-maiLagi (originate from Lagi [the heavens]). These ‘land-takers’ of the Turaga migration, theoretically, became the vulagi-stranger kings phenomenon hence, setting off what I call the iTaukei privileging system of ‘cross-cultural’ engagement. That was, as I presume, the beginning of what became the iTaukei chiefly and political system of Vanua leadership. The iTaukei mata system of Vanua representation, as a system of knowing ‘put’ in place to facilitate knowledge sharing and the pursuit of what the Vanua conceptualizes as bula sautu (lit. ‘life [lived in] peace and plenty’, and meaning ‘well being’), will be argued as critical to the knowledge building exercise. Scientific research, therefore, becomes the vehicle whereby ‘silenced’ narratives and traditions embodying important indigenous knowledge may be ‘voiced’. Herein, time-proven notions and ‘theories’ are ‘forced’ to go through the rigorous process of scientifically validating ‘knowledge’, and which will prove useful to its traditional ‘owners’ and the institution of research itself. This constructionist research, as a re-kune (searching and conceiving, again) for the answers to the research questions framed to meet the ‘needs’ of this research project, have used a mix of qualitative methods contextualized with the view of decolonizing the methodology. Using phenomenology, ethnography and philosophical reflection, the participant-observation method was adapted for this research as veitalanoa, and employing the vakaLakeba, to bring the literature, data collected from the ‘field’ and metaphorical thought into a rara place of dialogue. The narration of stories collected from the researched community, coupled with the linguistic and philosophical analysis of their conceptualizations of the vanua, vuravura, taukei, mata and sautu conceptions, as intrinsic to their worldview, have formed the core body of knowledge upon which a sound theory of representation is formulated. Empowering people via a “mata method” for researching indigenous peoples of the Pacific, particularly the iTaukei, becomes the critical finding that will inform future research projects, given how the privileging system of engagement it embodies works to encourage collaborative initiatives in society, and academia. A “mata way to sautu”, therefore, will boost iTaukei efforts directed at self-representation, and for liberation.
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