New research on Pasifika protective factors, highlights from the Pacific Fono

Thu 03 Aug 2023

Pasefika Proud published a new report about protective and healing factors for Pasifika communities as well as summary highlights from the Pacific Practitioners’ Fono.

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New research on Pasifika protective factors

New research by Yvonne Crichton-Hill and Julia Ioane looks at Pasifika Protective Factors for Family Violence in Aotearoa New Zealand (2023). The research looked at what contributes to family violence, what protects against family violence, what mitigates the impacts of family violence and how to support healing from family violence for Pasifika peoples. In each of these areas, the research highlights the importance of Pasifika cultural frameworks and understanding the diversity within ethnic-specific island communities.

The researchers used a talanoa approach of dialogue and shared conversations to gather insight from 44 community and faith leaders, practitioners, researchers, and academics from the Pasifika community. The report shares quotes from the talanoa. The researchers also drew on a literature review.

The research identifies a range of factors that contribute to violence such as beliefs about gender roles and child discipline, and individual factors such as cultural disconnection. The researchers also discuss the complex and many systemic factors including socio-economic factors, unemployment, colonisation, immigration, and the environment that contribute to family violence, writing:

"Participants highlighted that Pasifika families and communities have often been impacted by negative experiences arising from immigration and colonisation. Participants talked about Pasifika families’ experiences of systemic and institutional bias in Aotearoa New Zealand alongside the challenge of adjusting to a new culture. This is not to say that cultural obligations contribute to family violence, rather it was the barriers that limited their ability to fulfil their cultural obligations that created stress and disharmony within family dynamics."

Participants also highlighted that Pasifika families and communities protect themselves from family violence through education, skills and social support from family and the church. Investment in education was called for, specifically noting:

"Education to grow financial literacy, develop workforce pathways, build knowledge about family violence, and enhance ethnic-specific Pasifika cultural knowledge was viewed as an essential component to protecting Pasifika families."

To mitigate the impact of family violence, the research identified the need for skilled family or community mediators, formal support that uses Pasifika cultural frameworks, cultural processes such as talanoa, and culturally-aligned knowledge and resourcing to know about and understand family violence.

The research also identified ethnic specific Pasifika cultural processes, empowerment of Pasifika people and systemic factors that support healing from family violence. The researchers discussed how principles of practice were identified by participants to empower Pasifika peoples including:

"valuing victim and perpetrator stories, recognising that healing takes time, adopting a holistic approach to work with families, using Pasifika-informed models, suspending judgement, and making sure that the aim is always to maintain family relationships."

Systemic factors to support healing focused on the capability of the family violence system with an emphasis on a system that incorporates Pasifika cultural processes and that "Time is needed to give effect to Pasifika principles of practice; participants suggested that the family violence system should be geared towards supporting existing and sustainable partnerships with Pasifika families and community."

The report concludes with 12 recommendations in education, prevention and intervention. The research was contracted by the Ministry of Social Development (Pasefika Proud). For more information see the Pasefika Proud news story.

For related information see our Issues Paper 16: Pacific perspectives on family violence in Aotearoa New Zealand (2020) by Fuafiva Fa'alau and Sharyn Wilson. Also search our online library with the quick topic search Pasifika.

National Pacific Practitioners’ Fono

A 2-day Fono was held in Auckland in July for non-government organisations and community practitioners working in family and sexual violence. The event was organised by practitioners for practitioners in partnership with Te Puna Aonui. The purpose of the Fono was to bring together Pacific practitioners to talanoa and connect, strengthen and enable their work in family and sexual violence, build regional communities of practice and support, and connect to Te Aorerekura Strategy shifts and action points. Pasefika Proud has shared summaries, highlights and resources from the many speakers at the event. Te Puna Aonui July 2023 e-update said the next steps after the Fono will include strengthening regional connectivity and that a monthly online forum for practitioners will continue on the third Thursday of each month. For more information, contact

Update: The Ministry of Social Development August 2023 Family Violence and Sexual Violence update included a summary of the National Pacific Practitioner's Fono. The update noted that a National Project coordinator role has been established to help coordinate and manage operations of the Pacific Practitioners Forum including building and maintaining membership and regular communications. For more information contact the National coordinators at and

Update: Find out about the next steps following the National Pacific Practitioner's Fono and sign up for updates from the forum. 

Related news

Pacific community Champions of Change

Pasefika Proud recently highlighted some of the Pacific community led work to address family violence. In 2022, community training was offered to support communities to take action to address family violence using their own ethnic specific cultural framework from Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu. Champion of Change groups have been working towards actions that are by and for their communities. Follow the latest updates from the Nga Vaka o Kāiga Tapu Facebook page.

Related research

Associate Professor Julia Ioane also recently published new research about the views of Pasifika young people in the justice system and their parents/caregivers, about young people's mental health and wellbeing and the links with culture, family and spirituality, and their offending behaviour. The research used a Pasifika approach to interview young people and their parents/caregivers several times over 3 years, along with questionnaires. The report highlights the importance of relationships and cultural identities for young people.

Read the full report You've just got to think about your family and what type of person you want to be: Listening to young Pasifika people in the youth justice system and their families (2023). For more information see the Massey University news article Stay in school! New research hears from Pacific youth going through the justice system or listen to an interview with Julia Iaone on Radio 531pi. Julia Ioane did a second interview with Radio 531pi about the research.

Le Va published the report Pasifika Peoples Perceptions of Health and Wellbeing in Aotearoa New Zealand (2022). The report summarises findings from a project to better understand the current and future health and wellbeing needs of Pasifika people. Feedback was gathered from 895 Pasifika people through workshops or a survey. The report explores 6 key insights from the feedback:

  1. Mental health is the biggest area of concern for Pasifika people
  2. Family is key to wellbeing but also complex
  3. Income, housing and privilege have a major impact on Pasifika wellbeing
  4. Many Pasifika people feel like the health system can be doing more to meet their needs
  5. Pasifika people want diverse options and choice
  6. Stigma and discrimination affect Pasifika wellbeing.

Launch and malaga of Vaka of Stories to remember Dawn Raids

The Vaka of Stories launched in July 2023 in Auckland. The Vaka of Stories aims to bring Pacific communities together in a safe space to share Dawn Raids experiences. The Ministry for Pacific Peoples received government funding to coordinate the Vaka of Stories as a community-facilitated historical account of the Dawn Raids. A ‘Vaka’ will travel around Aotearoa New Zealand to collect stories and experiences of the Dawn Raids from communities. The stories will be collated into a historical report. See the Ministry for Pacific Peoples for dates and locations of Malaga stops throughout the country where people can share their story.

Related media

Pasifika community workers honoured for 'wrapping the village around families', Pacific Media Network, 16.11.2023

Pasifika community workers honoured for 'wrapping the village around families', 531pi, 16.11.2023

Fathers Fono - The importance of culture within our families, Pacific Media Network, 06.11.2023

Pasifika rates in care raise bias concerns, Otago Daily Times, 28.09.2023 (see the research article Child protection inequalities for Pasifika children in Aotearoa New Zealand: diverse realities)

Central Auckland’s new Tongan cafe, reviewed, The Spinoff, 20.08.2023

New book offers new wave of Psychology practice from Pacific-Indigenous frameworks, Tagata Pasifika, 14.08.2023

Island Roots Auckland Ways: A new podcast with a fresh young Pacific focus, NZ Herald, 14.08.2023

Pōwhiri welcomes new advocates to Mana Mokopuna – Children and Young People’s Commission, Mana Mokopuna Children & Young People's Commission media release, 28.07.2023

Interview with Josiah Tualamali’i, Radio 531pi, 27.07.2023

Taking steps to enable Ōtautahi Pasifika Community, Oranga Tamariki news, 13.07.2023

Pasifika youth advocate appointed to new children and young people’s Commission, Tagata Pasifika, 06.07.2023

Book offers Pacific-indigenous insights and showcases the growth of Pacific researchers, Massy University news, 06.07.2023

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