Barriers to Food Literacy for Tongan Migrants in Aotearoa New Zealand

Khaw, Cheng See
Neill, Lindsay
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Master of Gastronomy
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Auckland University of Technology

Food literacy within Pacific Island and, more specifically, Tongan contexts is a complex and comparatively new academic topic. This dissertation explores the barriers to food literacy experienced by Tongan migrants living in Aotearoa New Zealand. Their perspectives are important because although there is an abundant corpus of research literature, the voices of Tongan migrants and their cultural experiences potentialise a revised view of the food literacy of Tongan people. Informing that potential, my research explores, through interviews, the lived subjective experiences of three Tongan participants of mixed age, gender, and background who are migrants to Aotearoa New Zealand. Using qualitative description, thematic analysis, talanoa, talanoa-vā, the dual realm of existence, and considerations of voice and double-voicedness, my research recommends a new strategy to enhance food literacy knowledge for Tongans. That strategy is located within the experiences of my Tongan migrant participants. In that way my research makes a unique contribution to existing knowledge, considering the importance of fakalato (balance) and the integration of anga fakatonga (the Tongan way). Additionally, my research maximises my participants’ emic and etic roles, positioning them, as migrants to Aotearoa New Zealand, as unique and insightful sources of food literacy information. Consequently, by drawing on my participants’ insights and my research recommendations, much can be done at a local, community-based level to not only enhance food literacy knowledge but also reduce the prevalence of food-related health issues for Tongans.

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