As a New Zealand-born and raised Tongan, Edmond Fehoko has always been fascinated by the cultural space and cultural identity of the Tongan diaspora community, particularly male Tongan culture.
Edmond has a Bachelor of Arts in Criminology & Social Sciences (2011), a Master of Arts in Social Sciences (2014) and is currently completing a PhD thesis in Public Health.
Edmond's master's research, Pukepuke Fonua : an exploratory study on the faikava as an identity marker for New Zealand-born Tongan males in Auckland, New Zealand, is based on kava drinking as a cultural space and identity marker for New Zealand-born Tongan males in Auckland.
Edmond explores the idea of kava drinking which, he says, helps to reinforce a sense of Tongan identity for New Zealand-born Tongans.
Edmond's first introduction to the kava drinking ceremony was at the age of 14, and he discovered it was less about the drinking and more about the socialisation and discussions that came out of the communal act.
The importance of education
Edmond grew up in a low socio-economic area. He says education provided the path for him to make a change. He cites Nelson Mandela’s words, which struck a chord in him, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world”, and it changed the world within and around him.
Edmond was the 2013 recipient of the Inspiration Award at the Prime Minister's Youth Awards and has provided academic support for students throughout his studies.