Exploring inclusive education (IE) research in Tonga through Tongan cultural lenses and methodologies


  • Meleana Lahaina Koloto Victoria University of Wellington


This article explores my PhD research into Tongan family practice, looking at how Tongan families support and care for their member with siva-tu‘amelie's (special needs) education. The article discusses the layered approach of both Pacific and non-Pacific methodologies that I used during the study to ensure a safe space for participants. This allowed for rich, high quality stories to be collected. The article also outlines how the approach used promoted a strength-based perception and lens towards a subject that is often associated with negative connotations. My study highlighted the positive, strength-based aspirations and care Tongan families have for their members with siva-tu‘amelie that contradicts common notions of Tongan families viewing their siva-tu‘amelie members through a medical or religious lens. A brief background of siva-tu‘amelie in Tonga is also given, outlining the importance of my study in creating a shift in the way individuals with siva-tu‘amelie are perceived.