The journey: Leadership through relationships

  • Bernice Mata’utia


When we battle through adversity and uncertainties such as Covid, a Pacific lens brings cultural responsiveness where resilience, determination, and grit is evident. The power in ‘talanoa’ and ‘whanaungatanga’ is the driver for deliberate and intentional acts to ‘shifting the system’. A vision of ‘Equity and Excellence’ is achievable when we understand ‘what we do’ and ‘why we do it’ as opposed to ‘what we say’.  My talanoa in this article highlights my journey as a Principal in South Auckland, Aotearoa New Zealand and how I have drawn on my family and ancestral dispositions to ‘walk the talk’. Importantly, I discuss how my cultural heritage and values empower and influence my leadership as a Pacific Principal in shifting the system.


Anae, M. (2010). Teu le va: Toward a native anthropology. Pacific Studies, 33, 19-19.

Anae, M. (2010). Research for better Pacific Schooling in New Zealand: Teu le va – a Samoan perspective. MAI Review, 1, 1-24

Anae, M. (2016). Teu le va: Samoan relational ethics. Knowledge Cultures, 4(3), 117–130.

Apulu, M.T.(2010) Tautua Fa’atamalii (servant hood i.e servanthood with absolute integrity) Engaging with Samoan young people a thesis submitted in practical fulfilment of the required for the degree of master of philosophy, Master University 2010.

Fa’aea, A. M., & Enari, D. (2021). The pathway to leadership is through service: Exploring the Samoan tautua lifecycle.

Fa'avae, D., Jones, A., & Manu'atu, L. (2016). Talanoa'i ‘A e Talanoa—Talking about Talanoa: Some dilemmas of a novice researcher. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 12(2), 138-150.

Freeman, C., Ergler, C., Kearns, R., & Smith, M. (2022). Covid-19 in New Zealand and the Pacific: implications for children and families. Children's Geographies, 20(4), 459-468.

Juliet M Boon-Nana (2022) Re-examining the ‘culture of silence’ through peer-based Pasifika pedagogies in a New Zealand tertiary environment.

Laufili - Tigafua, M. F. (2020). University culture and the Fa'asamoa (Samoan) culture: (Navigating between two different cultures). (Master’s thesis). University of Auckland, Auckland, New Zealand.

Leaupepe, M., & Sauni, S. (2014). Dreams, aspirations and challenges: Pasifika early childhood education within Aotearoa, New Zealand. International Journal for Cross-Disciplinary Subjects in Education, 5(3), 1711-1719.

Ministry of Education. (2020). Action Plan for Pacific Education 2020-2030. Ministry of Education.

Ministry of Education. (2018). Tapasā: Cultural competencies framework for teachers of Pacific learners. Wellington.

Reynolds, M. (2016), Relating to Va. Reviewing the concept of relationships in Pasifika education in Aotearoa New Zealand. AlterNative: An International Journal of Indigenous Peoples, 12, 191-202.

Rimoni, F., & Averill, R. (2019). R* E* S* P* E* C* T: A Value Vital for Pasifika Learners. Set: Research Information for Teachers, 3, 3-11.

Robinson, D., & Robinson, K. (2005). " Pacific ways" of talk: Hui and talanoa (No. 36). NZ Trade Consortium Working Paper.

Salesa. (2017). Island time : New Zealand’s Pacific futures. Bridget Williams Books.

Spiller, C., Barclay-Kerr, H., & Panoho, J. (2015). Wayfinding leadership: Ground-breaking wisdom for developing leaders. Huia Publishers

Stewart, G., Devine, N., Benade, L., & Couch, D. (2021). School Zoning: Spatial Justice and Education Policy in Aotearoa New Zealand. New Zealand Journal of Educational Studies, 56(Suppl 1), 1–4.

Tanielu, L., (2000). ‘Education in Western Samoa: Reflections on my experiences’ in Bitter Sweet: Indigenous Women in the Pacific, pp. 49-60. Edited by A. Jones, P. Herda, and T.M. Suaalii. Dunedin: University of Otago Press.

Tapu Tu'itahi, A. (2018). Navigating the boundaries of two cultural worlds while re-negotiating a space for myself: My journey as a Samoan woman in the AUT Psychotherapy course (Doctoral dissertation, Auckland University of Technology).

Vaioleti, T. M. (2006). Talanoa research methodology: A developing position on Pacific research. Waikato Journal of Education, 12.

How to Cite
Mata’utia, B. (2022). The journey: Leadership through relationships. Ethnographic Edge, 5(2).