Pasifika education research guidelines

Publication Details

These guidelines are for researchers working with Pacific peoples and subjects in education research. The Ministry contracted Auckland UniServices to produce the guidelines, published in August 2002.

Author(s): Melani Anae, Eve Coxon, Diane Mara, Tanya Wendt-Samu and Christine Finau

Date Published: December 2001


The guidelines aim to:

  1. Assist the production of high quality research that acknowledges the cultural context of Pacific communities;
  2. Encourage a Pasifika development focus to research;
  3. Support appropriate and useful consultation and feedback to research participants and Pasifika communities;
  4. Assist with Growing the pool of Pacific education researchers.


The Ministry of Education's Pasifika Research Framework team has commissioned the drafting of these guidelines in keeping with the intent of the Pasifika Education Plan, which supports the capacity-building approach, i.e., a partnership between the Government, early childhood education services, schools, education providers and Pacific communities. The guidelines have been developed for researchers who intend to undertake educational research involving Pacific participants.

The purpose of this report is to develop a draft set of guidelines for researchers involved in carrying out research on Pacific education issues, in particular, researchers within the Ministry of Education or working under contract to the Ministry of Education. These guidelines will be trialled and reviewed by the Ministry of Education.

These guidelines are intended to highlight significant issues that Pacific researchers, both Pacific and non-Pacific, should be aware of when conducting research on Pacific peoples. They also promote research which embodies empowerment for both researcher and researched. They acknowledge that Pacific research projects will be diverse - framed and shaped according to the context of the research and researched groups - thus it focuses specifically on the consultation process as the vehicle through which these issues can be pragmatically realised and acknowledged during the research process. The guidelines thus begin with the cultural and philosophical contexts of Pacific research in outlining the rationale, key terminology, Pacific models and baseline assumptions. They then move to the consultation process which suggests ways in which these terminologies, models and assumptions and issues surrounding them can be dealt with in a pragmatic way - in the forming of research partnerships; when, why and how to consult with Pacific peoples and communities; and framing research topics and design. The next section titled Pacific Research Methodology extends the earlier consultation section in its consideration of the need to incorporate and appropriately weave Pacific epistemologies into the methodological fabric of the research process. This section consists of the following sections :

(a) The impact of Pacific epistemologies on research methodologies

(b) The research process:

  • Selection of research topic, research questions and methodological approach
  • Instrument design
  • Information gathering
  • Analysis of data
  • Drafting of final report
  • Dissemination of findings

More significantly, this section illustrates that there does exist specific methodological approaches and/or rationales applicable mainly, if not only, to the Pacific research context. It is thus the contention of this report that there does exist a methodological approach specific to Pacific. The guidelines end with a section on future directions.

The information contained in this report to the Ministry of Education is derived primarily from a fono of Pasifika researchers held in Auckland in June 2001. A concurrent literature review of Pacific education in New Zealand (Literature Review on Pacific Education Issues, Ministry of Education 2001), and the combined experiences of the research team are also contained within its findings. Whilst this report is designed to assist research within the Ministry of Education in the first instance, the authors hope that with wider distribution it will foster further discussion, comment and further exploration by Pacific educational researchers.

The ultimate goal is to ensure that policy development and policy implementation of Pacific education is based on informed research and that it is empowering for both researchers and the Pacific communities in Aotearoa. We will not be able to effectively address the ongoing challenges of lower participation rates in education, access to quality education or indeed Pacific student educational achievement without a robust theoretical and research basis. This report is aimed at fostering this important development.

Pacific research practice and theory are developing rapidly. It is hoped that these guidelines will contribute markedly to this process.

Contact Us

Education Data Requests
If you have any questions about education data then please contact us at:
Email:      Requests EDK
Phone:    +64 4 463 8065