Lalaga: Connecting beyond the name

  • Galumalemana Pelu Leaupepetele
  • Katie Batchelor
Keywords: Pacific, Lalaga, Indigenising, relationships, education


Aotearoa New Zealand (Aotearoa) is a nation shaped by the enduring effects of colonisation. For students educated in Aotearoa schools, success is defined by the cultural norms, knowledge systems, and values of Pākehā (white) New Zealanders. Research shows that, for students who sit outside this group, a main influence on their educational achievement is the quality of the relationships they have with their teachers. However, relationships in spaces shaped by colonisation (such as education), are hierarchical: they are defined by those in power and value is assigned to the dominant group’s (Eurocentric) beliefs and knowledge. This article documents the steps taken to Indigenise the relationship between learners and adults in one school south of the Auckland central business district. It further explores the effects of disrupting the history of colonisation at this school (Kedgley Intermediate), a large co-ed school in the predominantly brown community of South Auckland, Aotearoa. In the years leading up to 2017, there was an erosion in school culture and a reliance on punitive punishments that reinforced power imbalances between adults and students. Staff had love for their students but lacked understanding of their experiences and values; they couldn’t conceptualise the expectations the community had from those formally educating their children. Lalaga, at Kedgley in Papatoetoe, Tāmaki Makaurau (Auckland), began with a majority Pasifika student population and a predominantly Pākehā staff as a whole-school approach focused on building relationships and moving away from a punitive punishment approach. We argue that, when time is taken to build meaningful relationships between students and staff, power is shared, and education thrives.


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How to Cite
Leaupepetele, G. P., & Batchelor, K. (2022). Lalaga: Connecting beyond the name. Ethnographic Edge, 5(2).