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Using Talanoa to connect with parents and students

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Started by Nicholas Lekakis 23 Mar 2016 10:51am () Replies (4)

Hi all

We can forget that there are valuable ways to communicate outside of conventional Western models. In professional environments, our meetings are often characterised by a rigid atmosphere. Talanoa is a process of communication that is used by many Pasifika peoples. Its success is based on “interacting without a rigid framework” (Vaiolete, 2006). Its power comes from its emphasis on telling stories and relating our subjective experiences.

Talanoa provides a different way to connect with Pasifika students and parents, and people from non-Pacific backgrounds through the following four aspects:

  •         Ofa – Love: Sharing each other’s stories and acknowledging all participants.

  •         Mafana – Warmth: Building rapport

  •         Malie – Humour: Strengthening the relationship

  •         Faka’apa’apa – Respect: Growing shared understanding

It could be used by educators to:

  • conduct parent interviews

  • hold meetings with the community

  • gather feedback from students and parents

  • build trust and rapport with students and parents.


                          Manuatu (2002), Vaioleti (2006),

                      Mahina (1998), Steve Williams (2009)

Collaborative inquiry using Talanoa – A communication process - Porirua East schools conducted an inquiry to understand and enhance impacts on learning among target students. Teachers used Talanoa to communicate with each other and with students resulting in improved interactions.

Are there any schools out there that have used Talanoa to build/strengthen relationships with learners and their communities, or used it to understand their learners?  What made it effective?  How did you introduce the process?


  • Togi Lemanu (View all users posts) 23 Mar 2016 11:47am ()

    Talofa lava Nick, 

    Thank you for sharing this.  The talanoa process is an effective way to engage with our Pasifika learners, their parents, families and communities.  I have used this talanoa process with the schools that I am or have worked in as a facilitator and teachers have seen the benefits where Pasifika learners are engaging with set tasks and questioning.  Teachers have used this process when they have discussion time and it is inclusive of all learners where the space and environment where the talanoa is used is a safe enviornment.  Some secondary school teachers have displayed this on their walls to show a different way to communication between teacher - students and students - students.  

    Looking forward to hearing other responses. 

  • Nicholas Lekakis (View all users posts) 24 Mar 2016 11:12am ()

    Hi Togi

    I even heard recently of some schools and tertiary institutions using it as alternative means of assessment. Seems like it could be a way to rethink a lot of common practices.



  • Vanitha Govini (View all users posts) 24 Mar 2016 11:28am ()

    Thanks Nick for highlighting and elaborating on the conceptual understanding of Talanoa. I think it is very important for all school leaders and teachers to understand this concept while connecting with our Pasifika students, parents and communities. This will have huge implications on how we as school leaders organise and facilitate meetings with Pasifika parents. I understand that there needs to be a change in our mindset.

     Thanks Togi for sharing your knowledge and expertise in this area.



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