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Diversity amongst Gifted Pasifika

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Started by Aiono Manu Faaea-Semeatu 03 Apr 2013 1:53pm () Replies (3)

As part of my research, I created universal identifiers for Pasifika giftedness - cultural identifiers.

I canvassed the Pasifika communities in connection with my (now former) school and came up with this universal list.

However, let's discuss what cultural gifts you think are unique with our Pasifika nations.

What makes a gifted Tongan student?  What makes a gifted Samoan student?  A gifted Niuean student?  A gifted Tokelauan student?  What makes us distinct?


  • Ingrid Frengley-Vaipuna (View all users posts) 03 Apr 2013 3:25pm ()

    I'm sitting here pondering why I sometimes say of my 17 year old son "that's so Tongan"...it's often to do with his way of relating to others. He is not a stunning rugby player But is totally committed to the team - Every game and every practice for years. He was relieved we had a family function that got him out of the first 15 'initiations' tho' he would have gone if he'd been here. The macho side of rugby holds little appeal.  He understands that it takes more than individual talent to succeed. He is a great sax player but performs best in his jazz group Or supporting the local young guys reggae band.

    He has no 'shame' cradling a tiny baby or spending a day with a little 3 year old cousin who seemed like she 'needed a sibling or a friend'. He doesn't even know that kindness in men can be seen by some as weakness! He can't speak Tongan (although he did for the first couple of years of his life in Tonga) and has recently decided he's agnostic, yet read From the bible in the big Methodist church in Nuku'alofa (in English) because His grandparents asked him to. He encouraged his younger sister who, although an accomplished guitar player refuses to perform in public (very shy), to play Hallelueia in a duet with him on the sax at their Nena's 75th birthday feast in Tonga. She would never have done it without his belief in her.

    He knows being a prefect and House leader at school is a positive role model for other 'brown boys'. He is the only Tongan boy in the school but can see that the young Maori boys don't percieve him as 'other'. He is  capable academically and his goal is to achieve an excellence endorsement in NCEA but this is not what makes him Tongan. He is quiet around those who lie, gossip or cheat - he doesn't condemn them but withdraws his approval/ support instead. He is a tall, strong boy but, except for a 'fight club' in year 11 (student organised and against the rules which got shut down pretty quickly!) has never been in scrap or abused that physical power. His favourite clothes are about comfort rather than style. He will always share his lunch if someone has none.  He is relaxed and comfortable in his own skin. He understands his status as eldest grandchild on the Tongan side comes with responsibilities. His Tongan-ness is deeply intuitive even though he isn't steeped in the culture. 

    His clever 15 year old sister is not so'Tongan'. She has spent all her life in NZ and balks at the expectations for a 'Tongan girl' which she sees as sexist and unnecessarily restrictive even though she is quite saintly compared to some of her peers! I suppose she has taken her cues from me, her stroppy Palangi mother, rather than her Tongan dad. The gender identification has influenced their cultural development presumably. However, she has a strong drive to be of service and wants to be a doctor to help others, especially in developing countries. 

    These are probably just more specific examples of the cultural identifiers you have recognised but may move the discussion along...

    I'm a bit embarrassed to write about my own children but had a few spare minutes to do so and it can be quick and off the top of my head. I'll do some more thinking about the two Tongan girls who were the case studies for my thesis on Tongan gifted ness and will add more later...

  • Aiono Manu Faaea-Semeatu (View all users posts) 03 Apr 2013 3:31pm ()

    Malo e lelei Ingrid!

    Please!  Don't be embarrassed to talk about your children - thank you so much for sharing Cool.

    I have read your work and referred to you in my recent master's dissertation (still waiting for the outcome for a May graduation Kiss) so it's fantastic that you're contributing to this discussion thread Laughing.

    Please feel free to share more once you're ready!

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Gifted Pasifika Education

Gifted Pasifika Education

Choosing to view Pasifika as gifted students, seeing their cultural strengths and using their strengths to transition into academic success in the classroom