Love under the Palms: A Samoan case study

Encouraging an open dialogue about relationships, including their intimate aspects, was the aim of a seminar that was held at the National University of Samoa (N.U.S.) Niule'a building by Dr. Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni of The University of Auckland.

Dr. Tamasailau Suaalii-Sauni, a Samoan academic who specialises in criminology at the University of Auckland, visited the N.U.S.  Center for Samoan Studies to hold a seminar called "Love under the palms". 

The challenge of openly discussing sexual relations has been at the center of Dr. Tamasailau's work for a decade.

“It is one [issue] that has been lingering close to my heart in terms of trying to work through a lot of the really not so easy issues that are [borne out] in it,” she said on Thursday at the N.U.S. Niule’a building.

The seminar served the purpose to openly and responsibly talk about ‘sex relations’ and how it has become a must for modern day help services.

 It is a joint paper that has stayed long in the writing as well as in the discussion.

The writings are based on terms of how we are being Samoans and thinking through how it is that we talk about these not so easy issues.

She thanked her team mates Seiuli Vaifou Aloalii Temese and Matatumua Maluiao Leua Latai whose presence existed, for being instrumentals in what she’s been through in creating a dialogue in the Samoan ways to write about these issues.

“We’ve talked about this and thought about it in relation to how to write it, how to speak it and how to feel it,” she says.

It’s no question that they had to do the movement between these two languages Samoan and English, for the outspoken language and for unspoken language, as well as for both the formal and informal language.

In her introduction during the seminar, Doctor Tamasailau had a few things she wanted to touch on that were in the paper.

Initially, she pointed out how this was an ongoing conversation. It’s a conversation that is not going to find the solutions written all over in the piece of writing.

But what she, along with her team wanted to do, was to be able to provoke deep thinking about what the hermeneutic philosophers (which is in the area that they want to bring into this conversation) talk about in terms of the fusion of horizons.

“I’m doing it with my colleagues and so far as one of the challenges when I was here back in 2009 to 2011, I was a bit really green. Like a giu (coconut tree) green,” she says.

She was living her life through in how to engage in the language.

She, Seiuli and Leua had a session that they presented at the NUS Samoan Conference in 2011.

When they first began to enter into this conversation, they didn’t primarily put a number of genres. One of those genres is songs, Samoan songs.  

They wanted to do some great changes as they noticed something out with Otago and then recently with the other universities side as she is now having her way around with different universities.

She started out at Auckland and then she’s been to Otago which is where she had the amazing opportunity to travel to Samoa. She’s also been to Victoria and now she’s back to Auckland.

She shares of how this was amazing because it gave an opportunity to actually think about how they could passivate it through in many ways through academics and scholars.

“So the point in this paper is manifold,” she says.

One key point is to develop our Samoan scholars using our Samoan ways and frames of understanding our knowledge of understanding discourse.

“Some of the words that we use are very hard to be able to engage with in terms of the unhappy, not because we don’t have Samoan words. But because they haven’t been engaged in the systemic way, yet, in the scholastic paragon,” she says.

This is one of the challenges that she thinks needs to be put it out there for NUS working in conjunction with the many other universities around the country or region, and including our own Pacific regions.

“It is how to develop capacity in real ways that allows us to blend our languages and that is what we are trying to do in the written piece of paper,” she says.

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