Relationships, relationality and schooling: Opportunities and challenges for Pacific Islander learners in Melbourne’s western suburbs



Pacific Islander learners, home and school influences, relationships and relationality


Many Pacific Islanders living in Australia have a high regard for education and have high expectations of the capacity of the school system to provide the learning experiences needed for their children to achieve successful education outcomes. However, there are some challenges to achieving this goal; socio-cultural, financial and physical factors such as limited in-home supports for study time, space or schedules have consistently been reported as common barriers to providing a supportive learning environment within the homes of young Pacific Islander (PI) learners. This paper examines notions of relationships and relationality as experienced by a group of PI learners specifically from Polynesia and Melanesia, as they lived and studied in a region of Melbourne from 2012 to 2015. It follows these learners’ experiences as they navigate and negotiate the different spaces, structures and systems found within their home and school environments. In particular, it looks at ways that PI learners engage and interact with various players within these two important spaces and how these relationships affect school achievements and outcomes. The paper argues that complex relationship customs and relationality patterns can lead to both positive and negative impacts on learning for some PI learners.

Author Biography

Irene Kmudu Paulsen, University of Auckland

Programme Manager

Leadership and Education Authorities Programme

Auckland Uniservices Limited

University of Auckland.







Vol 17 (3) ECR Special Edition