Samoan Leadership for New Zealand Born Samoan Through the Aganu'u Journey of Discovery - O Ie Isaraelu Moni E Tatala Ie Faamalama Ma Vaava'ai Atu I Iona Nu'u
Much of the literature paints NZ-born Samoans as a vulnerable group unsure of their identity as ‘real’ Samoans or the knowledge and practises of the Fa’asamoa. There is significant research based around the identity journeys of New Zealand born Samoan youth. However, less is known about the identity journeys of adults as they journey through the life stages. My study looked at experiences faced by New Zealand born Samoans aged between 35-50 years old. The aim of the study was to capture the views of New Zealand-born Samoan participants, in particular why they chose to enrol in Samoan aganu’u classes at this point in their life journey? Also, looking at whether they saw a connection between being able to speak Samoan, understand the Samoan culture and Samoan leadership. Participants are male and female with an even gender spread up to ten altogether. All had taken aganu’u classes in Auckland where there is the biggest population of Samoan and the Pacific community in New Zealand. Some of whom held matai titles and others did not.
Using the talanoa methodology and through individual talanoa, valuable insights were gained about the value of attending the aganu’u classes and how for many,this lead to the light bulb finally being switched on in terms of really understanding in-depth Samoan protocols for cultural gatherings, the beauty of Samoan oratory language and the intricate role of the matai in the Fa’asamoa. There was a strong agreement from the participants that the aganu’u classes provided a safe environment for learning with others who were on a similar journey of discovery and in many cases reconnection. Of particular note, was that each participant emphasised that the Samoan gagana and aganu’u definitely added value to those in positions of leadership or for aspiring Samoan leaders. Other findings included that the aganu’u seed, which had been planted when they were young by their parents, have remained dormant for many years but in these aganu’u classes the seed of understanding and appreciation, had grown and flourished.