Pasifika education research priorities: Using research to realise our vision for Pasifika learners

Publication Details

This document will be of interest to researchers and others with an interest in Pasifika education. Its purpose is to encourage a collaborative, coordinated approach to gathering quality research-based evidence in key areas which can be used more effectively in policy and practice for improved educational outcomes for all Pasifika learners.

Author(s): Research Division, Ministry of Education

Date Published: March 2012


This document sets out current priorities (as at March 2012) for Pasifika research in education in Aotearoa New Zealand.We need more high quality research to improve the education system so it works for all Pasifika learners. This is the vision of the Pasifika Education Plan 2009-2012 and the rationale for this document. The research priorities in this document reflect key areas within the Pasifika Education Plan 2009-2012 and Working Group members' discussions with a wide range of Pasifika groups and individuals. This document will be useful if you are:

  • a researcher doing, or wanting to do, research in Pasifika education
  • a tertiary teacher guiding your students to choose research topics
  • a tertiary student or teacher researcher looking for a Pasifika research topic as part of your course of study.

As the research priorities are intended to result in findings on what works well for Pasifika learners, this document will also be of interest to:

  • policy-makers using evidence to develop policy affecting Pasifika education
  • leaders of educational institutions using evidence in decision-making
  • teachers using evidence to improve their practice
  • parents and other members of Pasifika communities.

'Pasifika is a collective term used to refer to people of Pacific heritage or ancestry who have migrated or been born here in Aotearoa New Zealand.'

'Pasifika people have multiple world views with diverse cultural identities and may be monolingual, bilingual or multilingual.'

(Pasifika Education Plan 2008-2012, Ministry of Education, Wellington, 2008).


The aim of this document is to support the vision for Pasifika learners of thePasifika Education Plan 2009-12. To do this, we need a collaborative, coordinated approach to gathering quality research knowledge. This is essential if we are to better inform policy, decision-making and practice for  improved Pasifika presence, engagement and achievement in education.

Along with setting out research priorities this document:

  • highlights the need for well considered research processes, such as relationship building and dissemination
  • outlines a number of mechanisms, activities and processes important for achieving the aim of this document
  • provides details on where to locate further Pasifika education publications
  • explains why this document was developed (the rationale) - Appendix 1, p.15
  • lists members of the Working Group and outlines the principles that underpin the document - Appendix 2, pp.16-17
  • indicates the people or groups who provided feedback during consultation on what research priorities to include in the document - Appendix 3, p.18.

For researchers and policy-makers in particular, but also all interested readers, the present document should be read alongside the report Teu Le Va - Relationships across research and policy in Pasifika education: A collective approach to knowledge generation & policy development for action towards Pasifika education success (Airini, Anae, Mila-Schaaf, et al, 2010).

'The strategic intent of the approach [in the Teu Le Va report] is Pasifika success in New Zealand's education system. [It] recognises the critical role of research-informed policy that comes from a sound, comprehensive, relevant and developing Pasifika education research base.'

The Teu Le Va report 'offers a philosophical and methodological base for the translation of research into policy for better Pasifika education outcomes. …Essentially, [this] involves identifying and understanding the va or 'spaces' between different stakeholders in Pasifika education research and development. Developing, cultivating and maintaining relationships consistent with the principles and understandings that underpin the widely shared Pasifika concept of va and to teu le va is advocated. This will strengthen opportunities for knowledge transfer across these spaces.'

'Teu Le Va emphasises working together and sharing power. It affirms the importance of relationships and creates a new va'a for researchers and policy-makers [and others] to work together. It supports Pasifika-led knowledge creation and the importance of Pasifika leadership in research and policy. It signals a move away from a focus on failure, 'the tail' of underachievement, and deficit, to a focus on potential and on everyone in the education system taking responsibility for optimising education outcomes for and with Pasifika learners.'

From: Teu Le Va -Relationships across research and policy in Pasifika education (pp.1-5)

The Pasifika Education Research Guidelines (Anae et al, 2001) are also recommended for researchers and other interested readers.


  1. This was the Working Group established to prepare this document.  Details fo the Working Group are given in Appendix 2 (p.16).

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