Aronui – the knowledge of being human

Culture Matters in Teaching and Learning: The international education of a Tongan woman

culture-matters-homeUsing culture as a foundation for education is an opportunity often missed by traditional western teaching practices. Teachers, lecturers and educational leaders can make a significant difference in helping young people to achieve better results in our education systems by recognising and implementing culturally-based methods of teaching and learning.

Recent developments, like the Kakala Research Framework, sourced from Pacific cultures, better motivates Pacific young people to conduct research in their own communities, using their own languages, and most importantly, to value and respect people and their cultures, especially elders.

In her lecture, Konai Helu Thaman will talk about her own educational journey through Tonga, Aotearoa/New Zealand, the USA and the Pacific region, in order to illustrate the key role of culture as a foundation for education for sustainable development. She will weave her own academic and creative works into the presentation and share attempts to make school and university learning – sites of struggle for most Pasifiki people – more culturally democratic.



Hamilton | 6pm Monday 28 November
Te Whare Tapere Iti , Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, University of Waikato

Auckland | 6pm Tuesday 29  November
Events Centre, Auckland Museum, The Domain, Parnell

Dunedin | 5.30pm Thursday 1 December
Hutton Theatre, Otago Museum, Great King Street
(with grateful thanks to the Otago Museum for providing the venue)

Palmerston North | 6pm Monday 5 December,
Sir Geoffrey Peren Auditorium, Massey University, Palmerston North

Wellington | 6pm Tuesday 6 December
Aronui Lecture Theatre, Te Whare Apārangi

About Professor Konai Helu Thaman

aronui-konai-thamanKonai Helu Thaman is currently Professor of Pacific Education and Culture and the UNESCO Chair in Teacher Education and Culture at the University of South Pacific (USP). She is a member of the joint ILO/UNESCO Committee on the Recommendation on the Status of Teachers (CEART), and a Fellow of the Asia Pacific Centre for Educational Innovations and Development (APEID). 

She was born and raised in Tonga, where she received her primary and secondary education. She studied at the University of Auckland (BA Geography), Auckland Secondary Teachers’ College (Teaching Diploma), the University of California at Santa Barbara (MA in International Education), and the University of the South Pacific (PhD in Education). She taught in high school in Tonga and has been on the staff at the USP since 1974. She has researched and published widely in the areas of Pacific curriculum, teacher education, indigenous education, women and university management, and more recently, Pacific research frameworks and education for sustainable development. 

An eminent poet, her work is studied by school children throughout the Pacific region, and has been translated into several languages, including Chinese, French and German.