Wednesday, March 23, 2011

[pima.nius] NZ universities must make room for ‘Pasifika models’, says Tagaloatele

12:44 PM |

NZ universities must make room for 'Pasifika models', says Tagaloatele


Pacific Media Centre, Yvonne Brill

21 March, 2011

Universities have been challenged to "change their ways" if Pasifika and other minority cultures are going to achieve their potential, says New Zealand's first professor of Pacific studies.

Tagaloatele Professor Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop said Pacific sense of identity - of "place" - was critically related to Pasifika educational outcomes.

Speaking at her inaugural public lecture as foundation professor of Pacific studies at AUT University's Manukau campus tonight, she acknowledged that Pasifika students  -  although staying in school for longer - were still below average in terms of academic achievement.

"Access, without support, is not opportunity", said Tagaloatele.

"Rather than focusing on trying to integrate Pacific or minority students into the culture of a university, is it time now to look more at changing the ways educational institutions are organised?"

'Bleeding potential'
Tagaloatele said Pacific people were "bleeding potential", and that developing Pacific models of research and learning had value, not only for Pacific communities, but for all university scholarship, research, and teaching.

"Making our place is a challenge for any minority group in any country where majority norms prevail in every institution and practice. This is a process of constantly adjusting, manoeuvring, and negotiating mainstream ways of doing things," she said.

After her address, Tagaloatele was given a standing ovation and honoured through song and dance by the Pasifika community.

A male dancer honours Tagaloatele at the professorial address. Photo: Yvonne Brill/PMC
A male dancer honours Tagaloatele at the professorial address. Photo: Yvonne Brill/PMC
AUT staff, students and members of the Pasifika community, including Labour MP for Mangere Su'a William Sio and opera singer Ben Makisi, gathered at the campus to hear Tagaloatele's lecture.

Her address, part of the AUT Public Lecture Series, was entitled "Pacific: Making our place in education".

The series, featuring professorial addresses, serves as a public platform for introducing new professors to university colleagues and to the wider community interested in their field.

Pacific contribution
Tagaloatele was thanked by AUT Vice-Chancellor Derek McCormack for her contribution to research at the university and by her family.

Labour MP Su'a William Sio thanked her for her contribution to Pacific development over the course of her career.

Tagaloatele, flanked by her daughters, joins in the traditional Samoan siva dance. Photo: Yvonne Brill/PMC
Tagaloatele, flanked by her daughters, joins in the traditional Samoan siva dance. Photo: Yvonne Brill/PMC
At the end of her address, members of the audience spontaneously burst into song, as is common at Pasifika celebrations.

Tagaloatele was also honoured with a siva, a traditional Samoan dance, supported by her family and others from the Pasifika community.

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