Tongan ethnic-specific approaches to family restoration

Scholarship research report
Violence against women Family violence Violence prevention Religion Tongan people New Zealand
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The overall aim of the Kainga Tu’umalie (Prosperous families) faith-based research project reported here, was to identify how Tongan indigenous cultural – faith approaches can mitigate the rampant effects of violence. This involved identifying and theorising Tongan cultural concepts in relation to Fofola e fala (laying out the mat) as a basis for understanding efforts to promote family transformation and restoration after experiences of violence (Afeaki-Mafile’o, 2012; Alefaio-Tugia & Havea, 2016; Ministry of Social Development, 2012 ).

This scholarship research focused on Tongan ethnic-specific approaches to kainga (family) restoration and explored the Tongan indigenous concept of Fofola e fala ka e talanoa e kainga (Laying out the mat for the families to dialogue) as used in the Affirming Works: Kainga Tu’umalie faith-based programme. More specifically, this research explored how Fofola e fala, as a metaphor, was utilised as a cultural knowledge construct to engage, impact, transform, heal and restore families in the Kainga Tu’umalie (KT) family violence prevention and intervention programme. Fofola e fala ka e talanoa e kainga literally translates as laying out the mat so the kainga (family) can talanoa (talk, dialogue, discuss). The KT programme aims to identify ethnicspecific cultural ways of ‘knowing, being and doing’ and use these to create therapeutic approaches to family violence prevention and intervention.

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