Intercultural understanding is required for effective intercultural education. The education of Pasifika students (those with cultural and/or family ties to Pacific Islands) living in Aotearoa New Zealand is a negative case in point. Research has linked Pasifika educational achievement to the quality of relationships between teachers and Pasifika students, but has generally stopped short of framing the discussion through Pasifika concepts. This article explores the concept of va (relationship/relatedness) for its potential in telling a relational story in Pasifika conceptual language.
Pasifika social science researchers in Pacific contexts are encouraged to use research methods that reflect the lived realities of their participants, rather than reproduce what are seen as Western methods of research. As a Pasifika process, talanoa has become a popular research method, often likened to narrative interviews. It has been defined as an open, informal conversation between people in which they share their stories, thoughts and feelings (Vaioleti, 2006).