Cecelia Faumuina Khakh

Cecelia Faumuina Khakh

Doctor of Philosophy candidate
Master of Philosophy
Bachelor of Art and Design (Honours)

The reputation of AUT’s School of Art and Design is what attracted her to AUT for her postgraduate study, says PhD student Cecelia Faumuina Khakh.

“Like many other people, I express myself best creatively. I chose AUT for my research because it has an excellent School of Art and Design, and I wanted to be mentored by the best academic staff.

“The highlight of my studies has been learning from great leaders in the field, and working within a studio with other creative problem solvers. My primary supervisor is Professor Welby Ings and he is the best.”

The wellbeing of young Oceanic people
For her doctoral research, Cecelia is focusing on performing arts and its effect on young Oceanic people’s wellbeing.

“According to the New Zealand Ministry of Health, Pacific communities experience poor health outcomes in New Zealand. As most young Oceanic people are in western education for the first eighteen years of their life where they are expected to succeed, navigating through their New Zealand and their Oceanic worlds is important to their wellbeing.

“My research considers ‘Asi – the spirit or presence of the unseen – that becomes manifest when young people work together in the creation of contemporary Tongan faiva (performing arts), which consists of sound, poetry and choreography. To explore this process and its transformative effects on performers, my research examines notions of koka’anga (how people work together) and ‘kuo tau e langi (the spirit that bursts forth from faiva).”

Her research builds on her Master of Philosophy, during which she analysed different ways of engaging with Pacific people to benefit their wellbeing.

A world of discovery
She would highly recommend postgraduate study in art and design, Cecelia says.

“I would definitely recommend postgraduate study. It opens up a world of discovery that can be beneficial to both you and to others.”

Cecelia, who received a Mature Student Scholarship to support her postgraduate study, already has a clear idea what she would like to do when she finishes her doctorate.

“I hope to guide others through their own journeys to solve societal problems, and continue to offer creative cultural solutions for better health and wellbeing of Oceanic people.”