Pacific youth "romantic" relationships and wellbeing
Savaii, Koleta Penina
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Healthy youth relationships are central to Pacific youth wellbeing today. Healthy relationship patterns learned in the youth years are precursors for healthy adult relationships in later life. To explore Pacific youth understandings and expectations of healthy relationships, and how and where these were learnt, group and individual talanoa were carried out with Pacific youth in the Auckland region. The final study sample consisted of eleven females and six males who self-identified as Pacific (7 Niue, 9 Samoa, and 1 Tonga). These talanoa were guided by the Fonofale model of health and wellbeing, underpinned by the Pacific Worldview and Appreciative Inquiry. Data were analysed and interpreted both from an individual psychological perspective and a socio-cultural lens. Study findings indicate that this group of Pacific youth had their own words and concepts for making sense of youth relationships. These youths also understood healthy relationships as involving behaviours of respect, commitment, and sharing. Their understandings were grounded in the values and norms of their Pacific cultural ways which had been learned and nurtured within their families. At the same time, it was clear that the use and the increasing popularity of social media had added new ideas to the ways these youths were looking, thinking about, and experiencing relationships. In fact, a main study finding was that these youths were continually negotiating family and Pacific cultural boundaries, alongside the new roles and expectations introduced by social media, and current times and experiences. Notably, however, these youths appeared to give prominence and respect to the family-based cultural norms. This study contributes to the local and international literature on Pacific youth wellbeing, adolescent romantic relationships, and dating violence. This study emphasises the need for Pacific youth policies and programs to be grounded in Pacific youth experiences, and for these to be explored through a gender lens. Second, that research designs and methodologies must be open and aware of the multiple perspectives that participants bring to the research and the interplay of these on their experiences and expectations. Families are important to Pacific youth, and policies, programs, and interventions for Pacific youth need to consider these within the contexts of their families. In sum, healthy relationships are important to the wellbeing of Pacific youth in New Zealand today.