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 Dr. Jeanne Pau’uvale Teisina

Jeanne Pau’uvale Teisina was born in the islands of Vava’u, a northern group of the islands that make up the Tongan Kingdom. She was raised initially by her grandparents, and came to New Zealand (NZ) with her parents and siblings in 1995. Her mother Meleane Lolohea Pau’uvale, who is influential in her life  and in Tongan ECE in Aotearoa, founded the vision to start Akoteu Kato Kakala (Tongan language nest)  from their garage in 1999. Jeanne is currently working at Akoteu Kato Kakala ECE located in Ōtara, NZ. Her involvement within Akoteu Tonga has drawn her attention to the cultural problems inherent in the regulatory context of NZ ECE and knows the importance of maintaining Tongan language and culture within the context of Aotearoa.  

For her doctoral research Jeanne aims to investigate the notion of subjectivity in Tongan thinking and in NZ early childhood education by theorising, critiquing and linking notions of ‘self’ in official documents on the one hand, and the understandings of Tongans in New Zealand on the other. Her research will add to the emancipatory work of Tongan and Pacific researchers from a poststructuralist indigenous position, presented for a broader audience.


Session Description:

Kāinga Ako: Leading from a place of strength within Tongan ECE in Aotearoa

In Tongan cultural context, the complexities of our worldviews and ontologies are built on a collective orientation made up of tauhi vā or reciprocal relationships with our people, connected to the fonua (land), genealogies and the entire cosmos. It is hard for us to talanoa well-being of Pacific peoples, especially when we are already overrepresented in health, educational research and statistics. This well-being question in itself is conceptually rooted in Western thought and has to be rethought to be meaningful in Tongan life. The Tongan ideas of wellbeing opposes the ideologies that rest on the individual as a separate being detached with no connections to the aspirations and goals of nofo ‘a kāinga. The tensions embedded in our Tongan sense of identity are inconsistent with conventional Western values and goals. In order to unpack the Tongan ideas of holistic well-being in a clearer view, it is essential that we use the Kāinga Ako conceptual thinking within the praxis of Akoteu Kato Kakala.


  • Effective Pacific pedagogies.
  • Wellbeing.
  • Identities, languages and cultures.