USP Theses Collection


close this section of the library Climatic changes -- Study and teaching -- Fiji

View the PDF document Na Bu : an explanatory study of indigenous knowledge of climate change education in Ovalau, Fiji
Author: Lagi, Rosiana Kushila
Institution: University of the South Pacific.
Award: Ph.D.
Subject: Indigenous peoples -- Ecology -- Fiji, Traditional ecological knowledge -- Fiji, Climatic changes -- Study and teaching -- Fiji
Date: 2015
Call No.: pac GF 852 .F5 L34 2015
BRN: 1204090
Copyright:20-40% of this thesis may be copied without the authors written permission

Abstract: In mainstream Western Sciences, Climate Change (CC) is defined as the long-term alteration of global weather patterns, such as temperature increase/decrease, changes in winds are a subcategory of alteration of global weather patterns. Indigenous Fijians’ understanding of CC, however, is linked to their perception of climate or weather. Consequently, they view CC as an increase in temperature and rainfall that alter planting, harvesting, and fruiting seasons. They believe it contributes to the migration of fish, consequently affecting fisheries, on which the villages depend on as a food source and for financial income. Indigenous Fijians have gained their knowledge about CC mainly from their observations and experiences of their environment over thousands of years. This Traditional Ecological Knowledge (TEK) has enabled Indigenous Fijians to forecast adverse weather. Nowadays TEK is a marginalized knowledge system and Indigenous Fijians are losing this knowledge due to a number of factors including education, modernisation and globalization. The aim of this research was to collect and document indigenous Fijian’s knowledge and perceptions of CC, particularly TEK, and the knowledge transfer processes between generations. This study assumes that the indigenous Fijian knowledge of CC is useful for and relevant to modern day living in Fiji. As such, TEK needs to be considered when teaching about CC in formal educational institutions. Using a mixed–method approach, drawn from Qualitative, Interpretive, Phenomenological and Indigenist Research Methodologies, this study explores the perceptions, knowledge and wisdom of indigenous Fijian elders, parents and children focusing on three villages on the island of Ovalau, Fiji. A mixture of Bula Vakavanua (Ethnography), Talanoa (narrative) and (Vakadidigo) (Observations) were used to gather data which was eventually Talimagimagi (woven together) with the knowledge and wisdom of the Vanua (the land, the sea, the sky, the people, all living things, the spirits, in a specific place and how they are related to each and responsible for each other. It also includes the knowledge, skills, culture, tradition and practices of the people) into the findings of this study. ii Initially, a desktop research was undertaken to gather information about the type of CC knowledge taught in Fiji schools. In addition, an analysis of CC policies which had been implemented in the country was undertaken. The first finding of this thesis is that the environment indigenous Fijians live in is the main source for their knowledge about TEK and CC. This is due to their close relationship with land, sea and sky. The elders were and continue to be aware of changes in the agricultural sector which strongly impact the daily lives of many indiginous Fijians. An example of this is the decreasing harvest of Pandanus plants, which are used by many women to weave mats and other items which are used during traditional events or sold for an additional income. Furthermore, changes in sea temperatures have negatively affected the number of fish and shell fish as a food source as well as for sale. The second finding of this research is that while elders were knowledgeable about changes in the climate, younger members of the communities surveyed did not possess the same amount of TEK. Furthermore, it became apparent that such traditional knowledge nowadays is not being transmitted to the younger generations as effectively as in the past. Since the Pacific Region is seen as highly vulnerable to CC it is vital to be aware of and prepared to the consequences of it. Therefore the study recommends that further research must be encouraged in other parts of Fiji and the Pacific Region in order to provide a data bank for curriculum personnel and educational policy officials to draw from. Students can then benefit from the knowledge of their ancestors and elders in relation to environmental knowledge in general and climate change in particular.
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