Monash University

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Galuola: a NIU way for informing psychology from the cultural context of Fa’aSamoa

posted on 2017-02-21, 03:00 authored by Alefaio-Tugia, Siautu Tiomai
Galuola is a metaphorical expression in Samoa which refers to the wave that brings people into safe landing. The intent of this research inquiry is to make visible ways for informing psychology from Fa’aSamoa (Indigenous Samoan cultural knowledge traditions). Given the paucity of research within psychology relating to peoples from Pacific nations, the primary aim of this research is to: explore cultural knowledge, customs and traditions of Fa’aSamoa as enacted through participation in work projects for informing psychological theory and practice. Cultural-historical theory through the work of Vygotsky (Collected Works) was utilised as a theoretical position within psychology that provides an opening for new knowledge to inform current psychological theory and practice. In this present study the cultural-historical revolution offers a conceptual framework to mediate between the language of Fa’aSamoa, its cultural artefacts, nuances and meaning and the body of knowledge that informs psychology. The author’s involvement in the re-development of Saili Matagi, a Pacific male violence prevention rehabilitation programme, is a work project foregrounded as a psychological field of practice in which Fa’aSamoa was enacted as tools for healing in offender rehabilitation. Cultural excavation of Samoan cultural constructs used as core components in the therapeutic encounter of Saili Matagi illuminate new cultural understandings for informing psychological theory and practice. Going back to the land of Samoa as a dialectical premise, and delving into the depths of Fa’aSamoa through Fa’afaletui (houses of collected wisdom) with Notable Cultural Authorities, Community Leaders and Church Ministers culminated in Fa’afaletui-dialectical analysis. Through this process of collective wisdom searching, unique cultural-psychological contributions were illuminated which trouble the antiquated methods of traditional psychology. Samoans as ‘others-centered’ highlights one of the new knowledge contributions for informing psychology which offers a new way of conceptualizing human development. Overall, this research reflected on the researcher’s own practice of psychology through the re-development of Saili Matagi and implored the wisdom of Samoan cultural collaborators in Samoa to make known Indigenous cultural knowledge for informing current psychological theory and practice. This process has unveiled New Indigenous Understandings (NIU) for re-theorising psychology from the cultural context of Fa’aSamoa. The development of Niu methodology through Fa’afaletui in Samoa with cultural collaborators produced Niu Ideology which in turn has informed a new contribution to the theory and practice of psychology - NIU Psychology.


Campus location


Principal supervisor

Marilyn Fleer

Year of Award


Department, School or Centre

Education Psychology


Doctor of Philosophy

Degree Type



Faculty of Education