Narratives of Samoan women who established A'oga Amata in Christchurch New Zealand
Degree GrantorUniversity of Canterbury
Degree NameMaster of Arts
This qualitative study explored the lived experiences of seven Samoan women who became involved in establishing A’oga Amata (licensed Samoan early childhood centres) in Christchurch, New Zealand. A foundation of Pasifika epistemologies comprising talanoa, teu le vā and Fa’aSamoa was used to validate Pasifika ways of knowing as essential forms of knowledge to be used in research for, and by, Pasifika peoples. Western theories of Womanism and critical race theory were also used to support this Pasifika foundation. Every researcher’s life shapes both the question and approach to research. Therefore, the thesis begins with self-narratives from the researcher, supporting the methodology of autoethnography to add depth and richness to the data. The findings revealed that women’s actions were influenced by their values of Fa’aSamoa, cultural beliefs and social motivators of hope and fear within the New Zealand context. Samoan women were poutu (the main pole) that upheld family, church and work within A’oga Amata (licensed Samoan early childhood centres). As immigrants from Samoa, women overcame challenges as a minority culture; and created new spaces for Samoan families. With the support of the church, A’oga Amata became a place of cultural transmission, a place of belonging and also a place where women experienced new confidence, leadership roles and higher status within their own homes, churches and community. Unfortunately, colonial incursions of licensing regulations, teacher qualifications and western ideals of quality teaching undermined the work that was created by these pioneering women. These findings reveal serious implications for A’oga Amata where language, culture and the identity of Samoan children in New Zealand is threatened and lost if cultural incursions continue to exist. The narratives of Samoan women who established A’oga Amata in Christchurch are an inspiration to the whole Samoan community and early childhood community.