Understanding Pacific Cultural Centredness: A Guide to Celebrating Unique Pacific Values and Beliefs

Check out the video below with Pale Sauni and Saylene Ulberg

This is part of a series on Pacific Cultural Centredness:

Exploring Pacific Cultural Centredness

Here’s a summary of this short talanoa with Pale and Saylene

Pacific Cultural Centredness is a term that has been used for years in education and health communities.

While the word “competency” is often used to describe this term, Pacific people see it quite differently.

It is not just about ticking a box and saying that one has achieved competency, but rather, it is about focusing on each individual group that represents the Pacific community.

When engaging with Pacific people, it is essential to centre around how they think and feel, considering that they have different languages and unique ways of seeing the world. 

There are many different Pacific groups in Aotearoa New Zealand, and each group has its own values, which may look similar but are practised differently.

For example, the Kava or other ceremonies may seem like something common among all Pacific cultures, but it is valued differently by each culture.

If one is coming to engage in a Kava ceremony with a Pacific community, they should focus on that particular ethnic group and do it safely in the way they practice it.

Understanding Pacific Cultural Centredness: A Guide to Respecting Unique Pacific Values and Beliefs

Aotearoa New Zealand has nine main Pacific groups, and to ensure that cultural values are preserved, consultation with the specific communities is essential.

Pacific cultural centeredness looks at four cultural values that have been selected by each of these communities that they want others to focus on when dealing with them as communities and as learners.

For instance, the Samoan community values spirituality, service, humility, and family, which are interrelated but are also quite separate in the way that they are practised or adhered to. The values of other groups may be similar, but they may use different words to describe them.

To sum up, Pacific cultural centredness is about recognising and respecting the unique values and beliefs of each Pacific group.

It is about taking the time to learn and understand their practices and being culturally aware when engaging with them.

By doing so, we can celebrate the diversity of the Pacific community and work towards creating a more inclusive and culturally respectful society.

Why and how is Pacific Cultural Centredness important for adult educators in Aotearoa New Zealand?

It’s important because it promotes cultural understanding, respect, and inclusiveness in education. By incorporating Pacific cultural perspectives and values into teaching practices and curriculum, educators can better serve the needs and experiences of Pacific learners, and create a more culturally diverse and inclusive learning environment.

To promote Pacific Cultural Centredness in adult education, educators can use teaching methods that are culturally responsive, include Pacific cultural content, and involve Pacific community members and experts.

Key Principles of Pacific Cultural Centredness

  • Cultural Respect: valuing the diverse cultural practices and beliefs of Pacific peoples.
  • Cultural Relevance: ensuring education is responsive to the needs and experiences of Pacific learners.
  • Cultural Inclusiveness: creating a learning environment that respects Pacific culture and identity.

Key Concepts in Pacific Cultural Centredness

  • Pacific World View: understanding unique Pacific cultural perspectives and values, including the importance of family and community.
  • Cultural Identity: acknowledging and preserving Pacific cultural identity, including language and customs.
  • Cultural Safety: ensuring Pacific learners feel safe, respected, and valued in education.

Approaches to Pacific Cultural Centredness

  • Incorporating Pacific Content: including Pacific cultural perspectives and values in education.
  • Using Culturally Responsive Teaching Methods: using teaching methods that engage Pacific learners.
  • Engaging Pacific Communities and Experts: involving Pacific community members and cultural experts.
  • Promoting Cultural Awareness and Understanding: providing opportunities for all learners to learn about Pacific culture and history.

Author: Graeme Smith

Education, technology, design. Also making cool stuff...