NZ unis must make room for Pasifika models

25 Mar, 2011
NZ unis must make room for Pasifika models
Tagaloatele Professor Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop

Universities have been challenged to “change their ways” if Pasifika and other minority cultures are going to achieve their potential, says New Zealand’s first professor of Pacific studies.

Tagaloatele Professor Peggy Fairbairn-Dunlop said Pacific sense of identity - of “place” - was critically related to Pasifika educational outcomes.

Speaking at her inaugural public lecture as foundation professor of Pacific studies at AUT University’s Manukau campus tonight, she acknowledged that Pasifika students  -  although staying in school for longer - were still below average in terms of academic achievement.

“Access, without support, is not opportunity”, said Tagaloatele.

“Rather than focusing on trying to integrate Pacific or minority students into the culture of a university, is it time now to look more at changing the ways educational institutions are organised?”

‘Bleeding potential’
Tagaloatele said Pacific people were “bleeding potential”, and that developing Pacific models of research and learning had value, not only for Pacific communities, but for all university scholarship, research, and teaching.

“Making our place is a challenge for any minority group in any country where majority norms prevail in every institution and practice. This is a process of constantly adjusting, manoeuvring, and negotiating mainstream ways of doing things,” she said.

After her address, Tagaloatele was given a standing ovation and honoured through song and dance by the Pasifika community.

Her address, part of the AUT Public Lecture Series, was entitled “Pacific: Making our place in education”.

The series, featuring professorial addresses, serves as a public platform for introducing new professors to university colleagues and to the wider community interested in their field.

For more information on Tagaloatele's public address, read the full story on the Pacific Media Centre website.