Living Between Cultural Spaces: A Journey From Fear to Love. A Talanoa.

Tu’inukuafe, Senolita
Woodard, Wiremu
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Master of Psychotherapy
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Auckland University of Technology

Constructing a cultural identity when living between cultures is often a confusing and complex psycho-social and cultural experience. The aim of this dissertation is to inquire into this human phenomenon using my personal experience being born and raised in Tonga, in a predominantly Tongan culture for the first seventeen years of my life, before migrating to New Zealand in 1986 and finding myself in a marginal culture. Readapting to a new home environment led to deep questions about love, acceptance, cultural identity, and belonging within myself. I am now fifty- four years of age and attempting to explore this phenomenon for the first time.

The complexity of the experience involves ongoing negotiations between my past and present competing differences and loyalties to what I have come to believe the world was, and the need to understand the different dynamics at play in that process. There is no self-discovery journey that does not expose oneself to new frontiers, and new depths and heights of both grief and understanding, thus, this process brings to light multifarious psycho-socio-cultural strands in need of being woven together to make sense of the resultant combined cultural environment.

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